Help For the Cupidly-Challenged Male

Feb 04, 1999 |John Thomas

Buying a Valentines Day gift can be intimidating. John Thomas is here to help.

The holiday season is now over. Santa has been removed, and in his place has appeared what is recognized the world over as the symbol of romantic love — an armed, flying infant — a.k.a. Cupid.

Although the seasons have changed, the challenge is the same: what to buy that special someone? Valentines Day is especially difficult for males for a couple of reasons. First of all, we exhausted every last "gift idea" brain cell during Christmas. A lot of people don't appreciate the time and thoughtfulness that goes into the purchase of a meaningful gift such as the Chia Pet.

And secondly, although the nation's economy is doing fine, our own economy is definitely in a "slump." Buying Christmas gifts drained almost every penny, and the beginning of a new semester means tuition payments are due, housing payments are due, textbooks must be purchased, and our membership to the Veggie Tales Fan Club must be renewed. Money is TIGHT!

So, I'm dedicating this one to all the gentlemen who find themselves in the unenviable position of having to come up with a creative and memorable gift for Valentines Day, and stay within budget, which at last count totaled 17 cents. Therefore I recently set out to discover if it would be possible to actually find gifts that touch the heart of every woman, yet didn't cost you your life savings, i.e., all the change in your couch. So, in the spirit of romance and mystery, I humbly submit my:

MALE GUIDE TO VALENTINES DAY GIFTS ON A COLLEGE BUDGET (or, How To Say "I'll Love You Forever" and Still Get Change Back)

To begin, when you think of Valentines Day, you probably think of what millions of other American males just like you are thinking — gas prices are at the lowest they've been in months. And nothing says, "I Wanna Hold Your (Clean) Hand" like a brand new pair of ...

Gas Mitts

Every woman knows the value of soft and silky skin, not to mention her desire not to smell of petroleum. What could make her happier than a new pair of gloves. The beautiful thing about these practical, yet feminine "hand guardians" is that one size fits all. Not only that, but the genius behind the design of the Gas Mitt is that there is no difference between the right and left hands — they're both the same! And, you can't go wrong with the color — clear opaque is all the rage.

You'll agree this is the perfect gift — no complicated decisions for the man; inflammable hands for the woman. For such an exquisite gift, you might think that you'd have to pay a hefty price, but brace yourself, they're free with any gas purchase.

And speaking of cleanliness, men, fewer gifts say "When You Blow Your Nose, Think of Me" like ...

Monogrammed Handkerchiefs

No, not those pretentious cloth handkerchiefs. Those are wasteful and hazardous to the environment. You have to wash them after each use, putting more detergent into our fragile ecosystem, unlike paper tissues that can simply be tossed into a nearby landfill.

If there is anything a girl seems to always need, it's tissues. This is because females are so in touch with their emotions. Of course, this isn't to say that men aren't in touch with theirs too. But unlike men, who only cry when a homerun record is broken, women are secure enough to cry during romantic movies and coffee commercials. By giving her tissues you're saying, "you're just too classy a girl to use your sleeve."

Simply get yourself eight napkins (Napkins aren't as soft as tissues but they're free with most value meals) and a pen. Discreetly find out her initials, and write them handsomely on each napkin. She'll probably use them right away! And it's heartwarming to know she'll be thinking of you every time she has a cold. If you really want the sparks to fly, include a gift set of those moist towlettes, which come free with most fast food chicken orders.

And men, speaking of a woman's needs, psychologists tell us that one of the greatest female needs can be summed up in a word: security. Women need to feel secure in a relationship. And believe me, nothing says "security" like ...

Duct Tape

This is something that no college co-ed should be without. Oh sure, it's not flowers or chocolates. But let me ask you, have you ever heard of doing shoe repairs, car window replacement (note: this also requires a trash bag), and small-engine repairs with a box of chocolates? Of course not. No doubt she's always admired the way you've reinforced your auto upholstery and dashboard with it. Something she couldn't do with a bouquet of flowers.

I know some of you "Romeos" will worry about giving such a gift to your special someone. You're having doubts, aren't you? You're concerned that gray duct tape may not be the most romantic gift you could give to your sweetheart for Valentines Day. That one nagging question lingers in your head, and the answer is yes — it also comes in red! (Now that's Romance!)

And finally, for the sentimental fellas in the audience, let's not forget that favorite activity of a bygone era. When times were a little tougher than they are now, and money was tight, our grandparents would often go on a:

Drive in the Country

Our generation has almost lost the ability to slow down and enjoy the serene beauty of a short trip outside the "city limits." In today's fast-paced world, this may sound boring and uneventful. But don't judge too quickly. Men, this is something that is inexpensive and creative and lets your sweetheart know that you are "in touch" with nature.

Besides guys, our gender doesn't take enough time to slow down and reflect on the more important things in life. No, we're too busy with our video games and our satellite TV's and our fast food and our cappuccinos, and the list goes on and on. That's why a drive in the country would do us all some good. It would show the lady in your life that you are in touch with your sensitive side and that you too enjoy the beauty of nature. Of course, it would be a waste of time and precious fuel resources if there weren't some larger purpose for your trip. That's why I suggest taking this drive during deer season.

These suggestions should be enough to get your own ideas flowing. Just one of these gifts would be enough, but if you really want to make a lasting impression, put them all together in a gift set. It'll be one Valentines Day she'll never forget, guaranteed. Guys, once the word gets around about your romantic ways, you'll be the talk of the campus!

The most important thing to remember is that Valentines Gift Giving on a College Budget is all about sincerity and thoughtfulness, not about who can spend the most money on gifts. It should focus on putting your sweetheart before yourself, which is why you shouldn't be disappointed if, after presenting these gifts, you get next to nothing in return. Some girls just don't appreciate the spirit of Valentines.

Copyright 1999 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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