by Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum
Every so often there comes an event that a guy simply cannot ignore, at least not without the risk of suffering pain. A Weather Service warning that a tornado is knocking on your front door would be an example of such an event. Another one would be Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is a tricky time for us guys. Our culture expects men to be strong and silent and stoic, not squishy and sharing and sentimental. Yet Valentine’s Day demands that we show our softer side, which almost inevitably leads to problems. Superman never had to deal with so many troubles as when he had to do things that involved Lois Lane.
Merely purchasing a greeting card that was pounded out by some stranger in some dank and cavernous greeting card factory no longer cuts the mustard. Modern guys are expected to think outside the box and do something for Valentine’s Day that’s grand and unexpected and romantic.
I checked with local authorities and have been informed that such things as rotating the tires or installing a new fan belt on the vehicle that’s driven by your Significant Other may not be considered very romantic. Yet if a guy were to do these things for one of his buddies, its beneficiary would deem it downright mushy.
Back when I was an impoverished young dairy farmer and my wife and I were newlyweds, I became an expert at finding creative and unexpected ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
The main element of my method was to avoid springing my Valentine surprise on Valentine’s Day. Sometime along about midwinter, I might say to my bride, “What say we drive into town? There are some things I need to get and, well, maybe…”
My wife interpreted the “well, maybe…” part as us enjoying a meal at a classy restaurant such as Burger King. I did nothing to disabuse her of this notion and she would summarily launch into the activity that many women call “getting pretty.”
I had no choice but to wait while the prettification process ran its course. Finally, my wife would be ready and we would climb into our pickup and drive to town. Our first stop might be the farm supply store. Telling my wife that we needed to purchase a few small items, we would stroll into the store.
Imagine her surprise when she learned that the store was in the midst of Hotdog Days! And that a hotdog and a cup of soda could be had for a buck! And that we could eat like royalty and return home with change from a five dollar bill in our pockets!
Better still would be if Customer Appreciation Day was being held at a local farm implement dealership. The meal would cost us nothing – that is, if you didn’t count being forced to sit through a video about the latest and greatest developments in farm equipment. It wasn’t like we would ever be able to afford any of those snazzy new toys, so I would use the opportunity to sneak in a catnap.
I would be awakened by a sharp elbow to the ribs, a jab that, in my opinion, was delivered with a lot more force than necessary. Looking around, I would see that the product promotion movie was over. I also perceived an annoyed look on my wife’s face. I could never figure out if she was peeved due to my falling asleep or the fact that she, like me, was frustrated that all those nifty tractors and combines in the film would remain forever beyond our financial reach.
Having shared three dozen Valentine’s Days with my wife, I have some ideas to help guys avoid pain when the holiday of love rolls around. Foremost among these suggestions is to be unpredictable. Nothing surprises like a surprise.
One of the easiest ways to surprise your beloved is to celebrate Valentine’s Day long after it has passed. I’m not saying that you should ignore the holiday completely. Doing that could quite possibly land you in Guantanamo.
Proffer some sort of token gift on Valentine’s Day, albeit one that’s so weak that your Significant Other smiles in a way which says, “Thanks. But wow, that’s really weak.”
Wait until the memory of Valentine’s Day has faded. Then out of the blue – surprise! – you bowl your beloved over with something deeply thoughtful and totally unexpected. As the waves of shock wash over his or her face, you can exclaim “Happy Valentine’s Day!” and reap your tender rewards.
The most difficult part is dreaming up something thoughtful. I wonder how my wife would feel about some spiffy new windshield wiper blades?
If you’d like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at [email protected] His new book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at Workman.com and at booksellers everywhere.