The holiest day of obligation in relationships, Valentine’s Day – or, as it’s referred to in our house, ‘February 14th’ – is upon us.
Back when I was a young (naive, idealistic, stupid) bride, Valentine’s Day was easily the worst day of the year for me. I would wake up in the morning, look over at my husband and know – just know – that this was the year he would come through with a huge romantic gesture that would leave me swooning and would make me the envy of all of my friends.
In retrospect, I blame soap operas. Their portrayal of men as tender-hearted, poetic, chivalrous puppies so overwhelmed with love for their mate that thoughts of her would consume their doctor/lawyer/mogul days is a filthy lie. I am convinced that all soap opera writers are either women or gay men, because there is simply no such thing as a heterosexual man who behaves like that.
My husband, who brings more good qualities to the table than this girl could begin to deserve, is not a good gifter; therefore, Valentine’s Day (and every other gifty holiday) is almost guaranteed to end in bitter disappointment.
It’s not like it wasn’t clear from the giddy-up that gifts would be an issue. The very first gift he ever gave me was an acrylic dusty rose sweater with horizontal white stripes. Aside from the fact that I am fair-skinned with red hair (or at least my hair was red back then,) making dusty rose quite possibly the worst color choice imaginable, I am a curvy girl. And by ‘curvy’, I mean ‘heavy’. Horizontal stripes – especially white ones – are like a flashing neon ‘WAIT…DID YOU SEE THIS ROLL??’ sign.
Our first Christmas as newlyweds, I practically elbowed my six-year old daughter out of the way so I could get to my gift. I tore open the wrapping paper to find…a dictionary and a thesaurus. True story.
Jack: I thought you really liked words.
We officially stopped exchanging gifts after The Great Mother’s Day Debacle. Mother’s Day is kind of important to me. Not because I think I am a good mother (for, as we already established with the Unfortunate Leash Incident, I am not,) but because I am a Christmas baby. Stick with me…Christmas babies don’t get the usual fanfare others get on their birthday. So, I’ve always kind of considered Mother’s Day to be a back-up fanfare day of sorts.
Side note: My son was born on Mother’s Day. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Anyway…I wasn’t expecting anything elaborate or expensive, for we had been married for about six or seven years at the time and I knew the drill by then. I was thinking maybe something along the lines of breakfast in bed and a day of being pampered by my family.
Not so much.
It was a lazy Sunday morning. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I could hear Jack and the kids milling about in the kitchen. Rather than go downstairs and ruin their attempts to surprise me with breakfast in bed, I decided to stay put and wait for my servants to come to my bedside to greet me. Before long, I heard the children running excitedly up the stairs. They charged into the bedroom, faces beaming, with a regular white envelope and what appeared to be a white shipping envelope (you know, like the kind your Ebay stuff comes in.)
Children: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!
Me (grabbing the envelopes out of their hands): Oh, thank you so much!
Mat: Dad wants to know what’s for breakfast.
Ignoring that last part, I tore open the regular envelope to find a gift certificate for a massage. Wow! That’s a pretty good gift! Maybe he’s finally turned the corner on gift-giving! I could hardly contain myself as I tore open the other envelope! Imagine my
surprise horror when I reached into the envelope and pulled out a teal-trimmed black lace corset (without the bra part – you know, so my boobs would just kind of…hang there) IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN. A size medium, no less.
Turns out he turned the corner and walked right into a brick wall.
I shoved the atrocity back into the envelope, bolted out of bed and flew downstairs (sans broom) in a rage.
Me (shaking bag in fist): SERIOUSLY?!?!
Jack (beaming with pride, horny twinkle in his eyes): Do you like it?
Me (enraged): WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?
Jack (confused and frightened): What? I thought it was hot. You don’t like it?
Me: I can’t believe you sent this upstairs WITH OUR CHILDREN!!! It’s MOTHER’S DAY, you moron, not Valentine’s Day!!!! Who gives their wife raunchy lingerie for MOTHER’S DAY?!?! And what’s with the size medium – ARE YOU MOCKING ME?!?!
I turned and stormed back upstairs before he could respond.
After waiting a few minutes (probably to ensure his safety,) he skulked upstairs and got into the shower. While he was showering, I paced back and forth in the bedroom desperately trying to figure out what would possess him to think that gift would be well-received. Then I decided to give him a peek at his unbelievably inappropriate gift in action. I tore the nasty thing out of the envelope and squeezed my fat self into it.
Please use your imagination (and antacid) and picture my size large (though closer to extra large) body in a size medium (though closer to small) teal-trimmed, braless black corset – curling up at the bottom for it lacked the elasticity to overcome the enormous girth of my belly, and covered about a third of the way from the top by my sagging boobs, the end result appearing to be a very tight teal-trimmed, black lace belt across my waist – standing in the middle of the bathroom, slightly hunched with my feet about a foot apart and my arms wide open as he opened the shower curtain.
Me: THERE. ARE YOU HAPPY? IS THIS SEXY ENOUGH FOR YOU??
Jack: (uncontrollable laughter)
And that marked the end of our gift-giving days. It wasn’t worth the headache for either of us. Now, for the good of our marriage (and my self-esteem,) we are like Jehovah’s Witnesses – holidays are treated just as any other day (for every day’s a holiday with Jack!) and gifts are strictly forbidden. If there’s something I want, I buy it myself. His gift to me is silence when the credit card bill comes. Turns out silence is, in fact, the greatest gift of all.