Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Your Resident Single Friend's Guide to What Not to Buy for Valentine's Day

Happy almost Valentine's Day! Are you ready for another holiday? I group Valentine's Day with New Year's Eve: I'm not really sure why it's such a big deal and why people get all crazy like. My fondest Valentine's memory is being the first "E" in an elementary school play. Good times. Or maybe I was the "I"; I just remember being part of the word and how much fun that was. We probably sang a song too. Wasn't elementary school the best? While the celebration of Valentine's Day is actually a product of the Middle Ages and the idea of courtly love, Valentine's Day as we know it is more closely associated with the 18th century and the practice of giving gifts, tokens, and cards (known as valentines) to your lover. It's this practice of gift giving that I'd like to focus on today.

 Image result for valentine's day nontraditional

As your resident single friend, I want to make sure that you take the time to really think about the gifts you give this Valentine's Day. I've worked in an office (schools count) for the last twelve years and I can say that it is the most competitive holiday for office gift giving. I've watched women (mostly) be reduced to tears because the guy they've been seeing (for years, months, weeks) forgot to send them anything while their co-workers receive every flower known to man. I've seen grown men have absolute panic attacks because they forgot completely or they realized too late that they bought an inappropriate gift. Valentine's Day is way too stressful. If you've ever seen the 1998 movie Overnight Delivery starring Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd you know that I'm right.

And so dear readers, I'm here to help you make smart life choices this Valentine's Day. I want you and your SO to be happy and stay together a long time (if that's what you want to do) and for there to be the hope that the person who loves you gets you at the same time. Here are my suggestions for what NOT to buy this holiday season:
  1. Edible Arrangements. I love chocolate covered fruit as much as the next person; it combines the deliciousness of chocolate with the illusion that you're making a healthy snack choice. Edible Arrangements make sense for birthdays and random occasions where you feel that the recipient needs a little pick me up on a Wednesday afternoon. They do not scream "I love you and I think you're special and I want to spend my life with you." There's something mildly practical about an Edible Arrangement. Honestly, it's screams friend zone. I would reserve this gift (even with the added teddy bear) for teachers, your mom, and the co-worker whose birthday is next week and you have to get them something but you don't know them that well.
  2. A Stanley Kubrick box set. I get it, Kubrick is a genius. We can debate the merits and missteps of his filmography over a few drinks sometime. Nothing about his films scream "give this as a Valentine's Day gift." I once overheard a young man on Metro chatting up a girl he clearly liked liked and he spent the entire conversation telling her to watch A Clockwork Orange. This is not the movie you recommend to a girl you like who has never watched a Kubrick film. You will not get anywhere with this suggestion - not to coffee, an actual date, and certainly not to anything remotely resembling a physical relationship. I dated a pretentious film buff and it was miserable. Had he opened with, "You have to see A Clockwork Orange," I would have run the other way much faster than I did. If you must buy movies, focus on something your SO actually likes or get them a subscription to Netflix so they can binge watch Gilmore Girls.
  3.  Pajamagrams. I like to listen to 98 Rock on my drive to work (it's the rock station out of Baltimore for those not from the DMV). I'm a big fan of the Morning Show with Justin, Scott, and Spiegel. They're amusing, play more music than most morning shows, and I feel like they'd be fun to hang out with. Spiegel is the resident curmudgeon and has a lot of stuff and issues. I was listening last week and during a break an ad came on for Pajamagrams read by Spiegel. I associate Pajamagrams with my mom and Christmas not with Valentine's Day. The ad was specifically for the "Stimulate Her Senses" gift pack. I don't know if it was his reading or the ridiculousness of Pajamagrams trying to be sexy but I was laughing so hard I almost got in a car accident. Just go buy lingerie like a normal person or buy cozy pjs if that's more your SO's thing. Please don't buy a creepily named gift pack from Pajamagrams.
  4. Monogrammed anything. Monogrammed gifts sound like a really great idea - no one will get confused if someone else has the same bag! There is a time and place for monogramming things: stationary sets, wedding accoutrement, sleep away camp gear but not Valentine's Day. No one wants stationary for Valentine's Day.
  5. Singing telegrams. I have a co-worker who is in a quartet that offers singing telegrams for Valentine's Day so I'm in no way saying that these aren't a good idea. Actually, I think this is a delightful and creative gift for the right person. If you are dating/married to/hooking up with/talking to/etc/etc an introvert or a very shy person, this may not be the best gift idea. If they don't like attention directed at them, this is not the right gift. If the idea of a person dressed as Elvis singing Neil Diamond songs confuses and/or enrages your SO, this is not the gift for them. Think before they sing.
  6. Tattooing their name on your person. Tattoos are a serious thing. They are with you forever. The decision to get a tattoo should never be rushed and you should consider the design carefully. Names are a dangerous choice even if you have the best intentions. Tattooing a person's name on your person is serious business. Look what happened to poor Johnny Depp and his "Winona Forever" tattoo; it was not forever. I don't even think that relationship made it past their appearance in a Tom Petty video. If you absolutely must get a tattoo for Valentine's Day, why not make it an experience you can have together? You can each get something that's distinctly you and you share in the thrill of getting inked.
  7. A puppy or a kitten or a ferret. Pets sound like a good idea especially puppies and kittens. They're adorable and cuddly and make people smile. What people tend to forget are that pets are a major responsibility and should not be adopted on a whim. If you and your SO are not ready to take on the care and feeding of a live being, don't give a pet as a gift. Honestly, ferrets shouldn't be pets no matter what so just don't make that choice at all. 
Then what should I buy resident single friend? Stick to the classics: pretty flowers, chocolates, cute stuffed animals (and I mean plush not taxidermied), a fun event date, a romantic dinner. Keep it simple and heartfelt. If you want to get really adventurous make them a mix CD and illustrate the cover. Sometimes in the frenzy of gift giving for arbitrary holidays, it's good to stand back and remember that less is more and classic never goes out of style.

Have another quandary you'd like your resident single friend to help you with? Share in the comments and maybe I'll help you out in a future Island post.

Coming soon to the Island: I sign up for Date Lab and at least one online dating site. If I type it here I have to do it so there's not turning back.


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