I woke up this morning, Valentine's Day, and decided to resume my never-ending hunt for a bathing suit. (If you missed all of that agony, click here for Bathing Suits, You Suck.) It must be my lucky day because I actually found a few! So what better way to celebrate the victory? Get myself some Valentine's chocolate.
So there I was, in the madhouse of Valentine shoppers, searching for the perfect chocolately peanut buttery morsel, when....BAM!!
I ran my cart into a poor guy and his armful of Valentine doodads went flying. It was like slow-mo. I saw the box of heart-shaped candy topple over his arm. That, at least, could be saved. But the heart-shaped candy dish figurine (or whatever it was) could not. It fell and smashed into smithereens.
I think I let out an, "Oh God...." just as he looked up from the porcelain broken heart thingy and our eyes met. I think there may have been tears (either from the stress of shopping for Valentine's Day on the morning of - or - because I had just demolished his gift.)
I immediately apologized and tried to help him recover the pieces. I think he was in a state of shock because all he said was, "That was the last one."
Now I know that I was totally at fault here. But in the back of my mind, I think I may have been doing his girl a favor. Nobody (except for all the other people who bought the rest of them) really probably wants to receive an ugly heart-shaped candy dish figurine. But I wasn't about to say that to the poor kid.
He looked about to be in his mid-to-lower twenties. And he was in panic mode. So as I picked up the last of the pieces, I offered to help.
"I am so sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going and I didn't even see you there," I tried to explain as I held up the remnants. "But I can try to go find another one of these....um...things."
"No. That was the last one. I don't know what else to get her, besides this candy," he said in defeat as he picked up the dented box.
"Well, you can't go wrong with chocolate," I said, trying to lighten the mood. "Unless she's allergic or something."
He looked at me like I had just punched him in the gut. So I tried to backpedal, "I mean, she's not allergic. Right? That's her favorite kind of candy.... right?"
"No, she likes gummy bears."
See, this is what happens to people (mainly, I think: men) when they are doing their Valentine's gift scrambling. They walk into the store, they head straight for the Valentine's aisle, and they grab whatever heart-shaped-chocolate-covered-junk that's available because they want to be romantic.
I think their intentions are good. I really do. I just don't think they realize what being romantic really means to us ladies. Or maybe it's just me. But paying attention to what we love, or like, or have mentioned that we need- goes leaps and bounds above any pre-packaged box of Russell Stover's.
Case in point-
One Valentine's Day, long long ago, I opened a cute little package of the ugliest heart-shaped earrings on the planet. As I took them out of the box, I tried to sugar-coat the obvious: They were atrocious and I hated them. Before I could even tactfully explain my dislike, he already knew. His reasoning for buy them? They were hearts.
And that they were. They were ridiculous diamond encrusted dangly hearts that probably cost a fortune, yet looked hideous. And as gaudy as I like my jewelry to be, these were earrings that I would never wear in a million years.
But I knew he meant well. He just didn't have any taste. And in his mind: Hearts had to equal romance! However, what he failed to do was to listen to what I had been talking about for the previous months on end: I really wanted a water cooler.
"I just thought for sure you'd get me one of those water machines that dispenses either hot or cold water. We even looked at them together, " I explained.
He seemed so puzzled. "But a water cooler isn't romantic. It's an appliance. Although it would have been cheaper than those earrings."
So we returned them, got the water cooler, and he ended up with $50 back in his pocket.
(Ok, let's flash back to today)
I felt like this same scenario was happening to this poor kid. In his mind, the gummy bears weren't even on his radar. He saw the chocolate heart and he went with it.
So I took the dented heart and put it in my own cart. I damaged the thing, so the least I could do was eat it, right? And I told him to follow me.
We located the regular candy aisle and found the gummy bears. He still seemed hesitant that they weren't in a Valentine's themed box. But I told him, "Trust me. She'll like these much better. Now, what else does she really need?"
This wasn't a question on the SAT exam, but it may as well have been. "Like....um.....I don't understand what you're asking," he stated, clearly puzzled by my inquisition.
So I tried to explain it, the best I could in a few short minutes in the middle of the candy aisle. "See, if you really want to let her know how much you care, you'll surprise her with things that show you pay attention to her. Anyone can grab the ceramic heart thing you were going to buy before I annihilated it, but we should find her something that shows that you really went out of your way to make her happy."
I think this was all sinking in because he was nodding and then said, "Her dog just chewed up her slippers this week and she was pretty upset about it."
"PERFECT," I shouted way too loud because people stopped and looked at us. So we made our exit from candy and entered the footwear section.
I asked what her favorite color was and he said it was blue. Not my style, but that's ok. We found a pair that closely resembled the chewed up pair as best he could remember. And then he looked at me like: What else ya got?
Not that I minded helping this poor kid since I did temporarily break his heart (no pun intended), but we had been shopping together for about a half hour and I did need to get a move on. So I told him the most important other thing he should do is to get a card and write something inside of it. "Don't just sign your name. But write something really personal. Tell her how she makes you feel. Or name a few things that she does that you simply adore. Or tell her that you had a box of chocolates in your hand, but you realized that she's worth so much more than that. Tell her she's worth gummy bears. You know, write something like that."
"Yeah. I'll do that. Thanks a lot. Really. I wouldn't have thought of all this. I'm glad you hit me with your cart," he laughed before we parted ways.
In retrospect, I'm glad I hit him, too. For her sake. Because I think deep down, most guys do have it in them to be romantically unromantic. And that's all we really want.
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