Valentine’s Day is coming, that day in February when we are supposed to buy or wear stripper lingerie to remember the life of a third-century Roman saint who died on the Via Flaminia. In truth, not all couples celebrate with thongs or chocolate or chocolate thongs.
As a public service, a few weeks ago I asked readers for the single worst Valentine’s Day gift they had ever received. (Just call me Cupid.) I was actually a little overwhelmed at the impressively bad choices some of us have made. So, as a public service, here are a few of the responses I received. Here are those things you should never confuse with an appropriate Valentine’s Day present.
• Nicole Williams Adamowicz: “A box of floppy disks. ‘But you need them,’ said my boyfriend.”
• Evan Wing. “A two-page letter from my girlfriend saying that she was breaking up with me.”
• Jude Bond. “On Valentines Day in college, a new beau took me on our first date to see ‘Deep Throat.’ That was our last date.”
• Carol A. Wheel: “A large print Sudoku book.”
• Elayne Carringer: “In college, I got dumped two years in a row on Valentine’s Day. The second time was by my serious boyfriend who, after blowing off our planned date, decided he was going to spend v-day with his buddies because he ‘needed time to think.’”
• Sharon Miller Buchanan: “A blender from my fiancé — and a cheap one at that.”
• Barbara Gayle Dozetos: “Spray cheese. Seriously. Fake cheese in a can.”
• Julie Failla Earhart: “The gentleman I was dating gave me a card that said, ‘Best Wishes, Mike.’”
• Zepure Talar Kurumlian: “My ex-husband, after dating me for five years and being married to me for one, and knowing that I don’t like chocolate, brought home a box of chocolates — on Feb. 15th. It had already been unwrapped. He apologized that he’d forgotten it in his car the night before. He said he’d eaten some that morning because his whole car smelled like chocolate.”
• Deborah Spofford Churchill: “On my very first Valentine’s day as a new mom – after a very difficult pregnancy and rough emergency delivery — I was really excited to get … a sweatshirt. Yay.”
• Tracy Kahl: “A heart rate monitor for exercising, because Valentine’s Day is all about the ‘heart.’ I interpreted it as a not so subtle hint that I needed to exercise more. He made it up to me by dressing up as cupid and bringing a dozen roses to my office and asking for forgiveness.”
• Maggie Rogers: “A vacuum cleaner.” (Note: Three other women reported receiving vacuums. None were happy.)
• Barbara Jester O’Brien: “A chameleon that lunged out of the box and got tangled in my necklace. He did change color, though, to match my turquoise sweater.”
• Mandy Mullinix: “I collected cow figurines, so a guy I’d been dating found a six-foot-tall stuffed cow. I never knew what to do with it, so I sat it in a dining room chair. One night, I got up for some water in the kitchen. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw that giant cow sitting there.”
• Alison Fraser: “Three days after a Valentine’s Day that was present-less, my disappointment guilted the negligent one into buying me a half-off tin box of chocolate sardines. They had gone bad.”
• Sarah Woodard: “A field guide to obstetrics and gynecology – a book filled with photos of birth mishaps and defects.”
Finally, there is this piece of advice from my friend and book publicist, Jennifer Marshall: “Don’t people know to just buy themselves their own damn present?”
This is especially true if you want a vacuum.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on February 10, 2013. Chris’s new novel HOUR OF THE WITCH, arrives May 4.)