Thursday, February 15, 2007

a seasonal rant

Last night as I left work there was a queue of about 20 people, mostly men, outside the flower stand. It was after 6pm and few of them looked at home in such a place. Most appeared a little harassed.

While I waited for the tram I saw a blonde woman being picked up by a man, presumably her boyfriend, in a yellow porche. There was the flash of florist paper and she gave him a big kiss. Then a present. Two. Flimsy items of lingerie. She nuzzled into him more each time the wrapping was opened. I couldn’t see his face clearly but she was truly in bliss.

What lengths does a man have to go through to get sex these days, I thought.

I know I am a cynic. No doubt I have posted about this before. I’ve only had one partner who bought into the commercially engineered Valentines crap and unlike the blonde in the porche, it made me feel very uncomfortable.

Not that I am knocking romance. When someone really knows you, can throw the perfect surprise and act with heartfelt care – is a beautiful gift. I will accept flowers most days of the year, you can tell by my home and workplace that I love them – but if you know me it would probably not be a spray of carnations or long stemmed roses. Overblown rosebuds from your garden are a whole different issue though. But please save your money and avoid it in mid February.

The first year with Valentines man, most unusually he called at work one day to see if I was free for lunch. This was most unusual, but I didn’t twig. We had a quick catch up, over lunch he asked if I was free for dinner too. That’s keen I thought. But I wasn’t, actually I was meant to be seeing a friend, a distant ex boyfriend. We were better companions than lovers and both living on our own as we were, often caught up for dinner or a movie. Valentines man had an unreadable look on his face. Back at work, half an hour later a bunch of roses arrived by courier. At this point the penny dropped. I noticed it was the 14th of February and rearranged whom I would dine with that night.

But it didn’t feel right. Why roses? Why dinner? Why this day? I guess it was my first relationship with a traditional bloke and it didn’t sit well with me. Successive years I learnt to not catch up with ex boyfriends on this particular night of the year. Each year there would be a bunch of roses. Sometimes chocolates too. Dinner at a fully booked restaurant.

What happened to imagination? Why do so many people buy into the commercialisation of romance?

I went on a first date once with a guy who wasn’t a natural cook but had found out about my dietary perversions and made a wonderful picnic (he cooked quiche – ah but it was the 80’s). He took me up a hill, a spot I had never been to and we snuggled into the contoured earth ate, chatted and marvelled at the view. He also turned up for said date wearing a rainbow wig. But that’s another story.

The most meaningful gifts I have received over the years have been handmade things from partners. One made me an axe. It was perfect, I needed one to chop wood – but what made it so special is he’d actually honed and welded the metal himself. Another took almost 2 years to make a piece of furniture that I still love and admire. He delivered it about a week after we broke up. If we hadn’t split I think it would have taken him about another 6 months. But still, each bit of wood was lovingly selected, the design reworked til he got it right. An amazing gift.

The Not Boyfriend gives me art, pieces that he’s painted. I hope he always will. What do I do? I’ve massaged, cooked, collaged, I’ve collected photos, decorated the packaging, hidden concert tickets inside books and T shirts.

In the end it’s not actually about the gift, it is the giving. It is remembering a friend’s birthday or an important date in their life. It’s knowing them well enough to give a token that says more about the receiver than the giver. It is about honouring friendship, saying thank you, sorry or just – I’m glad you are in my life.

But please, do it any day - just not February 14.

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Blogger MelbourneGirl said...

beautiful. ah, the axe, love it. and the piece of furniture - was it a chair? i hope so, then you can sit in it and remember him fondly.

i confess i do love being spoilt on val day, and making a bit of a fuss. i agree with you about it being about giving rather than the gift, and being flashy about it. and i do know friends who've had partners who've showered them with gifts, but been very remiss in almost every other relationship department.

we've all received flowers, and chocolates. but you must be the only person who's gotten an axe. how special is that? and handmade furniture - lovely.

hope you're enjoying the day after valentines, now that things are back to normal.


11:19 am  
Blogger The Editter said...

I don't buy into Valentine's either. But it was sweet when George gave me an overblown rose from the garden ;)

12:56 pm  
Blogger JahTeh said...

I knew the marriage was in trouble when he gave me a Valentine signed by the cats, followed by my birthday card also signed by the cats.

12:35 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

MG - thanks for stopping by. The axe and furniture were birthday presents. Honestly, despite my many loves, only one bought into the VD stuff.

Ed - yup its the thought that counts. A home grown rose is far prettier than the factory one.

Copperwitch - LOL the VD man was giving me cards from the cat in the end Cracked me up when i read your comment :)

Phew now we are through this hallmark event for another year, we can all get back to normal.

11:15 am  
Blogger Michael said...

I totally agree with everything in this post.

Not to be too cynical, but for those who just subscribe to these generic relationship/holiday gestures, it allows one to be conscientious in their relationships without actual thinking or empathy.

It's tragic, and one of the biggest problems with relationships today.

5:20 pm  

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