Despite being married for the better part of 20 years, my beloved husband and I don’t have all that much in common besides a smart mouth, a strong will and being the parents of two pretty cute blonde boys.
He likes the outdoors. I believe nature is best viewed through a pane of glass with fantastic climate control and a fruity drink from which to sip. I love a musical theater song and dance number, while he prefers a black-and-white WWII history biopic. He has to concentrate while he works, but I am the queen of multitasking – I love to chat and busy myself with five things at the same time. He is fiercely competitive, while I really don't care whether or not I win or lose.
On one thing, however, we agree; Valentine’s Day is for the birds.
I mean, I love the idea of Valentine’s Day. I really do. I love love. No one loves love more than I do, it’s just that Valentine’s Day is a lot of pressure. I think I’m in fairly good company, since probably 80 percent of the population considers Valentine's Day a complete chore, with crowded restaurants, crappy chocolate, and stuffed animals that are eventually discarded. I say, in response to playing the ‘St. Valentine’s Day Game,’ a deep and resounding Darth Vader-like, No.
This position grew from my husband’s general Fear and Loathing of the Greeting Card Holidays.
Basically, any occasion normal people would go into the card-and-party aisle to get their beloved a card proclaiming their love/affection/approval of whatever, my husband doesn't do it.
When we were first married, this stance against obligatory presents was a problem. Many things were a problem when we were first married, but this was a biggie.
When I say 'a problem,' I mean I might have had a couple of pity party mini-meltdowns, and he may have actually refused to bend to the collective will of the mainstream rules of romance. What I'm saying is that we chatted about it a few times.
What a punk, right?
Well, actually, as it turns out ... yes, it's true. No doubt about it, my husband is a punk. But not about the Greeting Card Holidays.
Because, like so many things with my dearest, he had a reason he believed the things that he did. Does. And he'd tell you, but your eyes would roll back in your head by the time he finished, because when he gets on a roll ... whew. The man can monologue. I'll boil it down for you.
He doesn't like being told what to do. Neither do I, actually. Does anyone? And for him, the greeting card industry has always been one, big, finger-pointing, here’s-what-you’re-supposed-to-do, nagging annoyance. So he dug his heels in and refused. And looking back, I don't blame him. The husband is a very romantic guy. He's totally chivalrous.
That being said, I’m here to offer some sound chivalric advice to the men out there whose lady friends aren’t yet as enlightened as me, eschewing Valentine’s Day for the trap it is. These are things my husband does for me, and that he’s training his sons to do for their future wives. (You’re welcome, girls, wherever you are. Can’t wait to meet you.)
Ask your girl out on a date face to face. Don’t text it. I realize we live in a different world now than back in the dark ages of the mid-nineties when I was dating, but this is a nice touch. Is there more risk? Yes. But, with big risk, comes big reward. I still get a little thrill when my husband takes my hand and asks me out. “Still?” you ask. Yes, still. Even though it’s not like I have a line of men out the door for backup, it’s nice to be asked.
Open the door for your girl. Or any lady, actually, but this is an easy one. It’s a sign of respect. Can we open our own doors? Yes, absolutely. We have opposable thumbs and a can-do attitude. But this is a lovely gesture, and a gracious girl will appreciate it.
Compliments. Give them. It’s highly likely your girl spent some time on her Valentine look. No woman hates to be told she looks nice. Tell her you like her shoes, or the way she did her hair. Or that you like her nose. Really, she probably won’t be picky. Any compliment will do – providing it’s sincere – and not the backhanded sort.
Drop her off, first. It’s winter, and will likely be cold here on February 14 in the Texas Panhandle. One of the nicest things my husband does for me is to drop me off at the door, then go to park the car. It’s cold, and I’m a delicate flower. Or don’t like being cold. Whatever.
Walk on the street side of the sidewalk. OK, I know if a car decides to mow us down, my husband won’t make much of a difference against a two-ton truck. But it’s the thought, you know?
Pull out her chair for her. It’s something that makes girls fluttery, guys. Give it a shot.
Walk her to her door. It’s so much nicer than dropping her off. And a kiss at the door? Icing on the cake.
So, my husband and I may not do Valentine’s Day. But I’m OK with it – and him – because he is chivalrous year-round. He's brave, thrifty, loyal, and all those other Boy Scout-like adjectives. He brings me flowers on a random Thursday afternoon. Cooks me dinner on a Monday evening. Brings me presents on Tuesday morning, for no reason. And that’s something with which no hot pink stuffed teddy bear and chocolates can ever compete. But whatever you decide to do for Valentine’s Day, I recommend you be chivalrous, guys. Be spontaneous. Crush the expectation of the Greeting Card Holidays. Be original.
I advise this way of life unless your significant other gets cranky if you don't do things the way society expects, in which case, get yourself out to the florist posthaste. You've got some roses, crappy chocolate, and a giant pink teddy bear to buy.
by Carrie Huckabay
Carrie Leigh Huckabay Carrie is an actress, teacher, writer and lover of blueberries who resides in Amarillo with her husband and two sons. She can be found online at carrie_leigh.livejournal.com.