Column: The challenges of being a guy on Valentine’s Day, past and present

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

Love is like a roller coaster. &160;When it’s good, you don’t want to get off, and when it isn’t, you can’t wait to throw up.

Valentine’s Day is an occasion when plenty of men will pop the question. “Where can I get a cheap gift at the last minute?”

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I sent my wife some durum, whole wheat, semolina, and unbleached white for Valentine’s Day.

It didn’t even get me out of the shadow of the doghouse.

I thought women liked it when a man sent them flours.

When I first started dating my wife, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t do anything. I was that broke.

I remember the first Valentine that I sent to my wife long before we tied the matrimonial knot.

I got a form letter back from her.

It read, &8220;Thank you for your recent submission. &160;We regret to inform you that it does not meet our current needs. &160;The high volume of submissions makes a personal response impossible. &160;We trust you will understand.&8221;

Who was Saint Valentine? &160;One legend contends that Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. &160;Emperor Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and outlawed marriage. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, continued to perform marriages. &160;Claudius ordered that Valentine be put to death.

For some this holiday of love means spending a quiet evening at home with a loved one basking in the comforting warmth of everlasting love as they take turns attempting to draw a rose on an Etch-A-Sketch. &160;For others it means spending a quiet evening at home alone with a taped version of the 10 Best Super Bowl games instead of watching You’re in The Army Now, the film featuring the longest kiss in movie history (three minutes, five seconds) between Jane Wyman and Regis Toomey. &160;&160;

Valentine’s Day glorifies love, yet it can be a heartbreaking day. &160;Many can remember that day in elementary school when they didn’t get a card from that special someone.

I wonder if school kids still exchange Valentines?

We gave each of our classmates a card in the hopes of getting as many cards back. &160;When you’re a kid, Valentine’s Day doesn’t make a lot of sense. &160;We were supposed to make a card for every girl and boy in the room, even the ones we didn’t like. &160;I gave cards each year even though the whole Romeo and Juliet thing concerned me. &160;My card to the girls was the same each year.

&160;It read, &8220;As sure as my dog runs around a stump, you are my love, my little sugar lump.

I’d sign each card with a gaudy example of bad penmanship.

That is, I’d sign the cards I’d give to the girls.

The cards to the boys went unsigned.

Finding gifts is not an easy endeavor for a man. &160;Chocolates melt, flowers wilt, candles burn, and toasters, for some strange reason, are not considered a romantic gift. &160;

As arduous a task as gift buying can be, finding the prefect card is even harder. &160;To most men, greeting cards are nothing more than glorified sticky notes. &160;The same thing could be written on a Post-It note at a much lower cost. &160;It’s not that men are miserly. &160;For example, if I won $112 million, I’d spend $12 million on my wife. &160;I’d keep the rest just so I’d have a little spending money.

Wouldn’t this look great on one of those little yellow sticky papers?

&8220;How do I love thee? Let me Google the ways.&8221;

It’s difficult to find a card that offers me any emotional attachment.

As I walked down the greeting card aisle of the store, I was struck by the chronological order that the cards were presented. &160;Happy Birthday, Graduation, Wedding, New Baby, Anniversary, Get Well, Sympathy. &160;It was slightly depressing.

Buying the romantic card is challenging for a guy because we want to get our loved one a nice card, but we don’t want to spend too much money on a card. &160;So we stand in the store and stare at the many cards, hoping for divine inspiration. &160;That combined with turning the card over and looking at the back of the card to check the price usually directs us to the perfect card. &160;&160;&160;

While I was in the store looking for a card for my beloved wife, I came across a wonderful Valentine card. &160;It read, &8220;To My One and Only True Love. &160;Be My Valentine.&8221;

The card came in a box of 10 identical cards.

(Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays in the Tribune.)