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Dear Todd Parker (02/08/2017)

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Dear Todd Parker,

All right. I’m in a serious mess and you’re my last resort.

I’ve been dating this girl since last summer. She’s great, really cool and very accepting of me, warts and all. But Valentine’s Day is coming and I’m completely at a loss. She’s so great; I just want to get her an awesome gift, something she’ll really love. I’ve asked my buddies and they’re completely useless. My female friends aren’t much better.

So what do I do? This is our first Valentine’s Day together and I feel like I need to find the perfect thing and the clock is ticking. Help me!

Panicked in Bangor

Dear Panicked,

(General V-Day disclaimer: It’s OK to have conflicted feelings about Valentine’s Day. There’s an overarching corporate-ness to it that can definitely feel a little icky. Feel free to rail against it if you so choose – I get it – but don’t let your principled stand get in the way of making sure your significant other gets the holiday experience that they desire.)

All right? All right.

So I appreciate where your heart is at, man. I do. I generally have little use for the rest of humanity, but you actually seem like you might be okay. At least in your letter, you come off as a guy who genuinely loves his girl. Kind of refreshing, living as we do in a world awash in loser stink. And so, here are a few suggestions for you.

First of all, don’t hitch your wagon to a cliché. Flowers and candy are fine, but they can’t be the centerpiece of a truly memorable valentine. Red roses and a heart-shaped box of candy will tell her that you thought of her. Just not for very long. They are supplementary gifts at best.

Doing something creative can be good too - so long as you have some semblance of talent. If you’re an artist, make her some art. Musician? Write her a song. Or maybe write her a poem if you’ve got the words. But you can’t sit down with your out-of-tune guitar and a rhyming dictionary for 10 minutes and expect anything good to happen. Know your limitations.

And what does she like? It could be as simple as signing the two of you up for ballroom dancing lessons, a cooking class, any of that random couple crap that people do. One of the best gifts you can give her is to take an interest (or at least feign interest) in something she enjoys. My guess is that she has feigned plenty of interest in the past; most women have. Your turn, chief. And you never know - you might even find something that you actually do like.

But seriously, dude. Don’t overthink this so much. You dig her, she digs you. That’s what’s important. That’s what the day is actually supposed to be about. Any gift given from a place of thoughtfulness, respect and love will be the best gift she could ever hope to receive. 

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