Late in the day yesterday, I ran to a nearby location of a major drugstore chain to pick up two items. Yesterday, by the way, was Valentine’s Day, 2011. With my items in hand, I headed toward the cash registers only to pull up short at the greeting card section.
There, men from college age to upper middle age jockeyed for position like pedestrians on New York City’s midtown streets. At the eleventh hour, these dudes were all hoping to find the perfect card for their sweeties or wives. The devil made me cast my eye down the aisle, where hundreds of pink and red heart-shaped candy boxes had stood just last week. That aisle had been picked clean, as if army ants had marched over it. Instinctively, I hurled, “You guys are all clueless!” at the card jockeys, who ignored me and continued to paw frantically at the greeting cards as if the secrets of life lay within them.
On Valentine’s Day, and on any day of the year, this is not what women want. The last thing we want is to be relegated to a drugstore card and a total lack of creativity in wooing us.
What then, do women want?
In the film, What Women Want, starring Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson, uber macho Mel’s character is suddenly gifted with the ability to hear women’s thoughts. This, he sees as a vile curse until a savvy shrink, played by Bette Midler, explains to him that he has won the emotional lottery, and why. With the ability to hear how women think, Mel’s character gains a genuine understanding of what makes women tick. Thus, he enters — and cherishes — his first adult relationship with Ms. Hunt’s character.
So … what is it that women want?
First and foremost, like the women in the movie, we want to be respected. Men, please read that line again, for it’s the not only the truth, it’s the bottom line.
We may tell you that we want to be loved. And in fact, all normal people, men and women, do wish to be loved by a significant other. But love without respect is hollow and even dangerous. Love cannot begin to sprout until we know that we are respected, that our feelings count and are taken into consideration. Like the women in the movie, we want to be heard — even though we may not feed you guys information directly.
For instance, if we walk around the house muttering, “I need to get the latest Neil Young album, the one he cut with Daniel Lanois, and Robert Plant’s newest outing, too,” we expect you to listen — even though the bills are due and there’s no spare change for Neil, Daniel, or Robert. We expect you to absorb this information so that, when … oh, say, Valentine’s Day … rolls around, we aren’t presented with compilations of artists whose work we already possess, or a lame box of heart-shaped candy. We want to tear off the wrapping paper and see Neil, Danny, and Robert.
And if you’re thinking that Neil, Danny, and Robert don’t make very romantic presents, think again. A present like this means that you have heard us; it means you have honored and granted our wishes.
Sometimes, we don’t want traditional gifts. Sometimes the best present of all is the gift of time. And the essence of romance, in case you were one of those men elbowing each other out yesterday at the card display, is not hearts and flowers or even dinner out at a fine dining establishment. The essence of romance is doing something unexpected for your lady, something that will quietly or perhaps not so quietly thrill her.
Under this category falls:
1. Taking your woman to see a “chick flick” that is so not your bag. Sitting there, actually watching the film, and not grousing about it.
2. Giving her a pedicure (yes, a pedicure), just after you hand her a cup of her favorite tea, unasked.
3. Going for a ride on a sunny day in an area largely untouched by man, when your idea of a grand ole time is to bat around a bucket of golf balls on the range. Packing a picnic for her, as an added surprise. Oh, for heaven’s sake … call the local deli and have them do it, and then just go pick it up!
4. Cooking dinner, serving her, cleaning up, and doing it all with a smile
5. Telling her, “Yes, my mother is completely insane. I must have been left on the doorstep by elves,” when your woman rails yet again about some slight you know was intended, delivered by your dear old mom … because you know your dear old mom!
6. Reliving a childhood memory for her and with her; i.e., visiting the zoo where her daddy used to take her to when she was little, flying a kite by the water, or dressing up for Halloween, even though you both may be staring retirement age (whatever that is, now) squarely in the face.
All of these things, and so many more, spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T. To quote the wise lyrics belted out and immortalized by Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”
Hey, respect does not mean cussing me out for airing this article the day after Valentine’s Day! Print it out, keep it close at hand, and refer back to it when necessary. Yeah, I know, that paper is going to be as wrinkled as your great Aunt Teresa’s face. Don’t worry about it; it’s only paper … it’s not a human heart. Paper is made to spindle, fold, and manipulate; human hearts are not. Refer back to this advice, and you can make many days during the year unofficial Valentine’s Days for your lady — who will, in turn, shower you with lots of love and respect.