What I am not a fan of is romance gone wrong. Because of the forced nature of Valentine's Day, most people think buying a box of chocolate filled with icky, unidentifiable goo and a card with Garfield on the front does the trick and what I would like to tell you is if you believe that is an appropriate way of indicating to me how you feel, then I believe you are a moron. Similarly, ladies, men don't want a teddy bear dressed like cupid or some elaborate drawn out nonsense involving a carriage ride.
When it comes to romance, everyone just wants the same thing. They want to feel "gotten". They want to feel as if you paid attention to WHO THEY ARE and WHAT THEY LIKE and you made some attempt to execute that. If your dude's favorite metal band in the whole world is playing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then the most romantic thing you could do is agree to go to a heavy metal concert in Chattanooga, Tennessee. If you make him a picnic on a giant lace doily, that may not go over the same. Romance isn't some Hallmark store IDEA of romance, it's particularized attention and calculated thoughtfulness.
So, in the spirit of being candid, I thought I would tell you some stories about the STUPID, STUPID, STUPID shit men have done for me over the years and some of the stupid shit which happened recently. Then, I thought I would tell you a little bit about what is and IS NOT romantic. I am not really sure where men get their ideas about what it means to be "romantic", but sometimes it seems as if they all went to a seminar taught by someone's schizophrenic cousin from Topeka, Kansas or something. I don't know where a lot of women get their ideas of what is romantic either, but I think a lot of it comes either from seminars taught by lobotimized Stepford Wives from Nebraska or from romantic comedies. These are movies which grossly perpetuate stereotypes, place unrealistic expectations on both sexes and teach us nothing about anything. These are MOVIES YOU SHOULD NOT BE WATCHING, because they are denigrating nonsense which will only make you a worse human being. Thus, read some of the below and maybe this year we can all act more thoughtful and less like we have Lyme disease eating away at our brains.
Many years ago, I dated a guy who was really hot, but just dumb as a brick. He was kind of like a golden retriever... fun, fun-loving, attractive, great to play with, not bad to be seen with, loyal, but really not all that bright. I enjoyed having sex with him, but he had all the ambition of a pile of hair and he played fantasy football and even though I have dated drug addicts, older men, the mentally ill and some other really crazy motherfuckers, I draw the line at people who play fantasy football. I would rather you sprinkle crack on your fruit loops before eating them with Charles Manson on the front porch than play fantasy football. Nope. In the world of useless pursuits, that has to be the most useless in my opinion.
Here is my summation of fantasy football, first you take something fucking boring (football) and then you make it completely fictional and pointless. Football is boring by the way, because it moves slower than a chess game, but involves less than a fraction of the intellectual strategy. Mostly, televised football involves watching men walk around the field, either the players or the coaches carrying clipboards. There is 30 seconds of action, followed by more clipboards; I would rather watch paint dry and I probably have, as opposed to watching football. I WILL watch football, if forced, but that is a vehicle for drinking, not for football. FANTASY FOOTBALL is like Dungeons and Dragons for sports fans. There are different sects; you have a Dungeon Master, different rules, etc. But I digress.
We hooked up for several months without anything being too serious and it was fun. I have to say, I have some great stories with him. You will get to hear them all in some way in the future. I will say I really liked him and I really liked being around him and although we spent a lot of time together, I just didn't see us being very serious. So hot. So dumb. It was right around Valentine's Day when I finally knew it was time to put the cabash on things. He wanted to surprise me with a romantic evening in a hotel room. I have to say, I kind of don't think that's all that great of a surprise to begin with, although there are things which suck more. It sort of puts unnecessary pressure on you to have sex all night and unless you're actually on vacation/out-of-town, one night in a hotel room always feels kind of dumb. What's the point? Unless, of course, you are staying somewhere with the purpose of avoiding driving drunk, in which case the hotel room could be awesome, but just a hotel room on its own... I dunno.
The hotel, mind you, ended up being a Quality Inn near his place in Madison Heights and he chose this hotel because it had hot tubs in the rooms. The Quality Inn in Madison Heights WOULD NOT BE MY FIRST CHOICE FOR HOT TUBBING, unless I was a hooker and possibly not even then. In fact, since I checked and I am not 22, not a drunken sorority chick, this is not 1976 and I am not a swinger, there is pretty much no reason for me to get in a fucking hot tub with you, unless we are in like Mexico or something and if that's the case, it had better not be at a Hotel Calidad.
He didn't tell me what we were doing and I was trying to go out drinking with my girlfriends that evening and he made a big production of not letting me. I ended up driving us and he got me to the hotel, where we went together to the room. He'd been to the room earlier to set up already. He lit strawberry scented candles and sprinkled rose petals everywhere. Literally, there were roses everywhere... in the hot tub, all over the floor and the bed. He had a boombox (no exaggeration, it was a real boombox), which was playing "I knew I loved you before I met you" on repeat. He'd even been so
thoughtful as to fill the sink with ice and buy us a twelve pack of Miller Lites. Seriously, he filled the sink with ice and Miller Lites.
He walked in ahead of me and it was all I could do to force myself to enter that room. Once in, it was all I could do to not ask if he meant this as a joke. The look on his face told me he was trying to be sincere. He said something about wanting to take our relationship somewhere and something-something, but all I could think about was the romantic crime scene surrounding me. Immediately, he started filling the hot tub with hot water and undressing. There were mirrors everywhere surrounding the hot tub and the thought of having to get naked in front of all those mirrors and somehow get myself gracefully into that hot tub with him while holding a Miller Lite, pretending not to be completely reviled by the whole thing terrified me. Apparently, it didn't bother him in the slightest because he cracked a Miller Lite and stripped right down. I was still fully clothed, with my coat and shoes on. I recall thinking, "He's naked, you're not, you have the car keys; if you just turn and run, there's no way he could get dressed fast enough to catch you." I didn't run, but I still think I should have.
Once the tub was full, he set down his beer and went to get in. The water must have been molten lava hot, because what he did next, I will never forget. He tried to get in the tub quickly without testing the water first. It was so hot, he pretty much lept out of the water, into the air and somehow, he ended up with one appendage on each corner of the tub, arching his back to stay out of the water. So, he had his right arm/hand on one corner, him left arm/hand on another and then one foot on each of the opposite sides. He was face-up, totally naked, spread eagle, surrounded by mirrors, with rose petals floating underneath him, burnt by the water, to the tune of "I knew I loved you before I met you" and he was screaming, "Oh Jesus, it's hot, it's too hot, it's too fucking hot."
And I just stood there, fully clothed, with my shoes and my coat still on, drinking a Miller Lite thinking, "Yeah, I think this has run its course."
I couldn't bring myself to burn his feelings too after everything he did, as stupid as it was, so I did stay the night and I did get in the hot tub and I did drink the Miller Lite. I wish you could see the face I am making right now, because I am sure it is the same face I made that night and I am sure I made it all night. I stopped seeing him after that. I still hooked up with him a few times, but by then we both knew it was over and it wasn't even the consistent hooking up we'd previously done. By the time it started to get warm again, we were totally through. I wonder about him from time to time and I have searched for him on Facebook (I don't know why...). He does not seem to have a Facebook account, which is not a good sign. It probably means he is as dumb and unambitious as ever, off playing fantasy football.
So, what was wrong with all the stuff that dude did? I hope it's readily apparent. I mean, okay, maybe you LIKE The Quality Inn and Savage Garden and strawberry candles and Miller Lite, but I don't. So, that was the major problem. This guy thought he was making a grand gesture, but he really didn't know anything about me or what I would find romantic. Somehow, he made up in his head his version of what a chick would like and find to be a romantic evening and he executed it without any pause to wonder about me. Because it was so generic and ridiculous, it ended up being one enormous joke.
None of that was necessary to show me how he felt. In fact, none of it was wanted. Jane Nichols talked about this in a prior post. It is more about knowing who YOU are and targeting that than it is about the grandeur of the gesture. Thoughtfulness is what counts. We want to know that you are paying attention and want to get to know us and really like who we are.
I once dated a guy who gave me a bunch of boxer shorts as my birthday present, because every time I stayed over at his place, I slept in a pair of his boxer shorts. He gave me a bunch of boxer shorts to keep at his place, so I would stop wearing his to sleep in. Underwhelming. We'd been dating for months and he gave himself a gift for my birthday so I would be less annoying when I spent the night.
I am just now getting out of a marriage to someone who never did anything romantic for me, in a great many years. He would refute that by saying he cooked for me all the time, but that was not a gesture of romance. I don't blame him, he really isn't that horrible of a guy, we just were NOT meant to be together. He cooks for a living and like boxer-shorts guy, it was more for him than for me. I was with him for around ten years and I do not remember a single Valentine's Day during that entire period, save one. I was 23, Valentine's Day fell on a Friday or Saturday that year, I was waiting tables and I got off work that night, exhausted but flush with cash. I went to meet up with him and some friends at the Magic Stick. When I got there he was so hammered he could barely stand. I wanted to slam some drinks myself after my long evening so I proceeded to the bar. He tried to convince me to buy him a drink, but I was pretty sure he'd had enough. After spending several minutes of trying to bully me into buying us "Red-Headed Slut" shots, he finally settled on begging me for some rum, straight up in a glass. Where he came up with this, I don't know since he doesn't even drink that. He kept asking me for, "Just a little bit of rum, just to sip. I promise I will only sip it. I won't gulp it, I won't even take big sips, I will just sip it with little sips. Please get me just a little bit of rum to sip." I don't remember if I actually got him the rum to sip or not, but that is the only Valentine's Day I have an actual memory of with him and that is the memory... A little bit of rum to sip.
So, to demystify this for all of you, here is a list of things generally thought of as "romantic" and how to properly execute them:
1. Cards/Notes: Don't bother buying a card at all if it's a shitty drug store card clearly purchased at the last minute, we can tell when you do that. Have you ever seen me do or say or come near anything with "Snoopy" on it ever in my life? No? Then why the fuck are you buying me a "Snoopy" card? Would you want a "Snoopy" card? No? Then why the fuck are you buying me a "Snoopy" card? Ladies, same deal - is he an icky, mushy, romantic guy? No? Then why the fuck are you buying him a "Snoopy" card? Similarly, do not buy him a card with enough verbiage in it to rival "War and Peace" and then get fussy when he doesn't seem to soak it all in. Try to make this meaningful. Are they funny? Then buy them a funny card. An ACTUALLY funny card. Or... better yet, get a BLANK CARD AND WRITE SOMETHING THOUGHTFUL IN IT. They sell blank cards for a reason people. Does anyone ever really care what the pre-printed message is? Usually not. Cards and notes are so much better when they come from YOU. This goes both ways, male and female. Stick a card in my purse when I am not looking, so I will find it later. Ladies, throw one in his mailbox with his regular mail. Do not leave 9 bazillion post-it notes all over the bathroom reminding him how "cute" he is. Do not write her endless bad poetry about how her eyes remind you of the moon. Do not give me a fourth thing that makes me puke (in addition to seriously heavy drinking, the flu and other people's dating blogs). Buy a decent card, that isn't stupid, write something meaningful in it and surprise them with it. Just try to be yourself and convey how you feel. Done.
2. Flowers: Do not ever, I repeat, EVER show up with a shitty "mixed bouquet" from Kroger for containing daisies and carnations. Just don't do that. It's insulting. Do not ever show up with anything which has carnations in it, or was clearly purchased hastily at the grocery store. If you show up with one of those shitty mixed bouquets from the grocery store, all wrapped in plastic and icky, I can't promise what I will do. I will probably attempt to be polite, but I will probably make a face and I will remember... oh yes, I will remember. Flowers don't have to be roses. Actually, unless roses are her favorite flower, flowers kind of shouldn't be roses. Figuring out what her favorite flower is and sending her, or bringing her those flowers, packs WAY more of a punch than just sending roses. Send her favorite flower to her work and you will probably get a really good blow job. Show up unexpected, with her favorite flower, for no reason and I have no idea what will happen to you, but it will be something good and you can get away with just about anything after that. Why? Because it shows attention, thoughtfulness and effort - the holy trinity of romance. Ladies, you can give dudes unexpected gifts without sending them flowers. What does he like? Does homeboy LOVE beer more than anything in the world? Send him beer as a surprise. Surprises are easy to execute. They are simply calculated thoughtfulness.
3. Music: Unless you are an actual singer-songwriter, who can actually sing and who plays an instrument, do not serenade me. Within the last several weeks, I had someone serenade me with an R&B song at Karaoke and one guy sing a rousing rendition of "Lady in Red" to me outside a different bar on another night. I was not wearing red. Meaningful songs between two people can be mindblowingly awesome and the power of music to evoke emotion is truly astonishing, but seriously, unless you can actually sing and play an instrument, please do not fucking sing to me. Totally make me a CD, totally post a song to my Facebook Timeline, totally do all of that, just please don't sing. Ladies, this is tricky territory... some men are really weirded out by the "music is meaningful" thing, so I guess you have to feel it out. I would say that if you ever make a dude a CD, it should be after you speak with him extensively about his musical tastes, it should be focused on songs you think he will really enjoy and it should under NO CIRCUMSTANCES have "Call Me Maybe" on it. No one has ever written a song for me and if they did, it would have to be really good for me not to think it was stupid. I have never written a love song, but I heard this recently and I would like to think that if I did, it would sound sort of like this one. If someone ever wrote something like this for me, I am fairly certain that like the flash mob person, they would be cemented in my heart forever:
5. Food: I love to cook and I love to make dinner for people. I also would love to have someone cook for me, despite the fact that I was married to someone who cooked professionally. With him, it was always showing off, but I think with someone else it would be an act of caring. It's an act of caring for me. Cooking for someone is awesome. I actually prefer it to just going out to dinner which you can do with anyone at any time. Cooking for someone takes effort, preparation and intention; it is calculated thoughtfulness. Anyone can make reservations. That is not to say I don't love dining out, because I totally do and I am very adventurous in what I eat, etc. However, cooking for me, (or enjoying what I cook for you) spending the whole night in drinking wine with me and talking is incomparably romantic... unless you're boring, in which case it's tortuous, but I am thinking of doing this with someone you already really like. Certain food is stupid though. There are a bunch of people who will disagree with me, but I always found the whole "chocolate covered strawberry" thing to be cheesy, bullshit nonsense. Also, I don't care how many commercials are on T.V., do not ever get me an "edible arrangement". I do not want a bouquet of fruit. I don't think anyone thinks a bouquet of fruit is romantic. I would send that if someone died.
6. Hot Tubs: Just no, just fucking no. Not ever, not romantic, avoid this altogether. You can't have sex, because of the hot water, it's overdone and cheesy as hell. This is reserved for the college and swinger set only. ONLY get in a hot tub if you are on vacation or at the spa and then for relaxation purposes only.
Despite all my mistakes and despite all the mistakes of others, I do (as I've said NUMEROUS TIMES) really believe in the idea of love. So, repeat the lesson from this post over and over and over and over and I think we will all be a lot better off. ROMANCE IS WHAT KIDS? Romance is... CALCULATED THOUGHTFULNESS. And it isn't just for stupid Valentine's Day.
We all just want someone to "get" us. When you do something for someone, especially when it's NOT on Valentine's Day and it speaks to who they really are, they feel as if someone out there in this big, cold universe recognizes who they are and that's a beautiful thing. You want, I want it, we all want it. You scream, I scream, we all scream for fucking ice cream.
Here is my "pal" Rufus Wainwright, singing a slightly less ridiculous love song, but one I believe in, because I believe in the idea of love. Now, go clear up your Lyme disease and do something unexpectedly romantic for someone you care about - BEFORE Valentine's Day. xoxo, Saraswati.