From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

A Mistake I Will Not Repeat

The first duty of love is to listen.

Paul Tillich

Ah! Valentine’s Day . . . a day for lovers, romance and flowers. A day for hearts, candy and jewelry, but apparently not a day for appliances.

I give up. I will never be able to figure out the unspoken language between men and women. And to think I got married two months ago secure in the knowledge that I had finally figured out how to play the game. I was wrong.

You see, I proudly presented to my new wife, on our very first Valentine’s Day as young newlyweds, a food processor for her St. Valentine’s Day gift. She gazed upon this appliance— one she had mentioned week after week that she desperately needed—and said, “Oh. A food processor.”

I have always heard that when someone says what the gift is upon receiving it, it’s not a good gift (i.e., “Oh. A Chia pet”). Did I mention that my wife has repeatedly said how much she wanted a food processor?

See, I am of the school of thought that says when I ask, “What’s wrong?” and my wife answers, “Nothing,” I assume nothing is wrong. And when my wife tells me she wants something, I want to get it for her. She wanted a food processor. She got it. So why did I have to sleep on the couch Wednesday night?

My coworkers laughed at me when I pleaded my case to them. I guess they all attended Gift-Giving 101. I must have missed that class. My boss asked me, and I quote, “Are you an idiot?” I suppose I am.

To make matters worse, my wife’s coworkers scoffed at my gift, wondering why she would even consider marrying a heathen like me. How dare I? A food processor, indeed!

I’m not a complete idiot. It’s not like I gave her a lawn mower or a subscription to Sports Illustrated. I didn’t even get her that certificate for a free oil change I was tempted to buy. I gave her what she wanted. And she didn’t want it.

I was informed by a female friend of mine that the proper action to take was to buy my wife the food processor on Arbor Day or Flag Day or some random Monday. Never on Valentine’s Day.

Another friend said gifts like mine conjure images of housework and stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with romance. What happened to “It’s the thought that counts”?

I had no idea there were guidelines for which days to give what. The food processor, I am told, was not personal enough for Valentine’s Day. How personal do I need to get? I’m not buying underwear, or anything else she would have to wear, for that matter. If you knew anything of my fashion acumen, you’d agree with me.

I was probably the only person in the world who knew she wanted a food processor. Everyone else got flowers and candy. She got a major appliance. That’s pretty personalized, don’t you think?

I think my gift blunder has less to do with outright stupidity on my part and more to do with a general communication breakdown between the sexes. I have recently discovered that “Watch whatever you want” does not include SportsCenter. I just learned that “Whatever you want to do” does not mean that I can play golf with my friends on Saturday afternoons. I used to think that females found the stereotypical male behaviors cute, even charming. You know, hanging my ties on the doorknob, never making my bed, cold pizza for breakfast, memorizing Caddyshack, cleaning out my refrigerator maybe once every time Neptune orbits the sun.

It’s all so guy-ish and adorable.

I was wrong on all counts. And I obviously didn’t know that “I really wish I had a food processor” meant “Don’t you dare give me anything with a cord and a plug for Valentine’s Day!” I know now. And I promise to spread the word to all males who are considering shopping at Sears or Home Depot for Valentine’s gifts.

For now, I guess I’d better start thinking of a way to make this up to my wife. I should probably start by returning the sewing machine I was going to give her for her birthday next week.

Michael Seale

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