With Valentine’s day looming, it’s time for a confession.
I suck at romance.
Actually that’s not quite accurate. I don’t really suck at it, it’s just that I hate the cheesy, tacky schmaltz that’s become known as romance, so I try to actively avoid it. Sure, I like flowers, but I’d rather you bought me a bottle of gin than spend a small fortune on two dozen red roses. Nothing says love like a gift with a limited shelf-life, destined to die.
And yes, I like chocolate. But I’d rather you bought me a bar of Lindt’s dark chocolate with Sea Salt when it’s on offer for £1.50 in Sainsbury’s than a box of soft centres from Thornton’s. That would prove you really know me and my love for sweet and salty bargains.
Teddy bears? Actually those I don’t like so much. Call me a killjoy, but that’s no present for an adult. They have no purpose. They don’t even serve as a joke present.
I think it’s at least partly coming from a very straightforward, practical, and frankly Scottish family. A few years ago, my dad gave my mum a Christmas card and didn’t even sign it. His response? “It says “To my wife” – who else was it going to be from?”. That’s not to say my dad isn’t thoughtful or romantic in his own way, we’re just not a family that goes in for any sort of unnecessary sentimental crap. My mum likes it that way – you should see the face she pulls if you give her a card with a soppy poem in it.
So I count myself lucky to have landed myself a husband that has more imagination. I don’t often get flowers, and I certainly don’t get them when I’m expecting them.
I don’t get a cliched proposal on top of the Empire State Building, but I get a really cool, unexpected one at the zoo which was reminiscent of Rocky’s proposal to Adrian and genuinely took my by surprise (even though I knew he’d made a point of seeing my dad to ask for his blessing a couple of months before our trip).
I don’t get chocolates in pink and red foil packaging. I get an entire healthy meal’s worth of ingredients peeled, chopped, grated and portioned out in tupperware so that when I get home, alone, late from work I’m not tempted to order takeaway.
I don’t get teddy bears. I get archery lessons that I mentioned might be fun 8 months prior, or a t-shirt printed with an obscure film reference or a DVD box set for us to watch together.
We don’t drink prosecco because it’s Valentine’s Day. We pop open a bottle because it’s Saturday. Or Wednesday.
What does he get? He’s a very practical chap, so he’d hate it if I spent lots of money on frivolous or extravagant presents he doesn’t need. This is a guy who’s literally *just* got his first smartphone because his 8 year old Nokia was still capable of making calls and sending texts despite going through the washing machine. Twice.
So I tend to get him what he wants, which is usually what he needs. Plus a few surprises thrown in because I’m not made of stone and I do get real joy in giving great presents.
But I just can’t take Valentine’s Day seriously. We don’t usually do gifts at all, and if we do we’ll set a very low gift budget. We tend not to eat out, and if we do it certainly won’t be on Valentine’s Day itself, eating an uninspiring set menu which is almost certainly mass-produced, lower quality and worse value than you’d get any other night of the year.
So I’m not giving in to the pink and red tat every shop tries to sell you from the second the Christmas cards are taken off the shelves. I’m staying true to myself and appreciating him in my own way. For our first Valentine’s Day together, I bought him a Mr Potato Head. And the card he’ll receive tomorrow calls him a knobhead.
Maybe I do suck at romance. But it works for us.