This October will mark my 14th year of marriage, which seems hard to believe. I don't know where the time has gone, but it has made me a strong believer in the adage that "the days are long, but the years are short."
I truly enjoy being married and I could not imagine my life without my beautiful wife and our three children. (At least I can't imagine it 99% of the time. 1% of the time I do actively imagine a more high-octane “care-free” life where I'm hanging out and partying like a rock star with famous rappers, celebrities, and pro athletes like Young MC, Brian Austin Green, and John Kruk.)
But those are just passing dreams. Hopefully, I will remain married to my wife for another 40 years so I can atone for some of the bad Valentine's Day gift choices I haved made in the past. Gifts that were given out of love, but that were not as well received as hoped. Gifts like:
1) Last year's $50 gift card to Publix. This was a Valentines’ Day gift I truly thought was going to be a homerun. How nice would it be, I thought, for my wife to not have to pay cash for one-third of our week's grocery shopping? I figured maybe she could treat herself to something she enjoys like a bag of Hershey’s dark chocolate or maybe even some flowers if that was what she so desired. The way I saw the gift card, I was giving her whatever her heart might desire. Unfortunately, the grocery store gift card did not get the warm reception I expected.
2) New floor mats for the mini-van: This was one, given three years back, that I truly thought was a winner. With three kids who are unable to exit the car while carrying anything, our mini-van can get a little smudgy. And the truth is, my wife had said on at least six occasions that she would love some new car mats. She said it enough times that I actually thought she was hinting that she wanted them as a Valentine's Day gift. Suffice it to say she wasn’t.
3) Oil change gift certificate: This is one where I have to put part of the blame on the guy working at Pennzoil. As anyone who gets their oil changed at one of the major chains knows, it no longer seems to be just about a change of oil and a filter. Whereas the quick oil shops used to be staffed by mechanics, nowadays they seem to be run by salesmen who got their training selling timeshare units in Orlando and Las Vegas.
I literally dread getting my oil changed nowadays because I know I’m going to have to listen to a high pressure sales pitch for products that would never even cross my mind. That’s why what is often marketed as a $29.99 process usually ends up in the $180 range by the time I leave and they lay out the little piece of red AstroTurf that they insist on calling the "red carpet" treatment.
It was in January a couple of years ago when the Pennzoil sales manager (the one with the new Rolex) convinced me to buy the oil change coupons for my wife. It was the standard M.O.: the one they make you listen to their entire sales pitch before they will allow you to take repossession of your car keys.
As part of their interrogation, the manager asked me if I was married. I naively said "yes," which led him to display a poster-sized chart showing that 95% of women reported they would feel loved, protected, and cared for if their husband brought home pre-paid oil change certificates. Well either the study was flawed or I'm married to the 5% of women for whom the oil change gift card did not make her feel loved, protected, and cared for. That gift, while eventually used by me during an 18 month period, was a definite dud.
4) Artificial Hydrangea wreath: For me, this one is still a major head scratcher. My wife has told me dozens of times that she loves hydrangea bushes. So when I saw the florist had a couple of wreaths on clearance, I decided to ditch the roses and get a wreath. To me it was a no-brainer, especially since it was artificial and wouldn't wither away over time. A gift that would last.
I truly thought it might be something my wife would want to hang in our family room. Let's just say, the wreath spent a day in a trash can before I rescued it and put it up on my office wall. I refuse to discard it and am hopeful it will eventually achieve heirloom status. I’m already talking in up to my kids in the hopes that it will be something they fight over after I die.
5) Spanx--the biggest mistake of all and another example for husbands that you cannot base your buying decisions based upon what you happen to overhear your wife say to a couple of her friends. Just because your wife said she would "love" something doesn't mean it should be a Valentine's Day gift. Suffice it to say, as happy as my wife might have been when she saw the box from Nordstrom, it ended up being the most costly Valentine's day of my life.
Fortunately, with Valentine's Day tomorrow I think I have found the perfect gift--the six foot Teddy Bear from Vermont Teddy Bear. Based upon the reaction of the wives' in the commercial, I think my wife is going to be ecstatic when she finds out that is what I bought her for this special occassion. Hopefully it will be such a great gift that it makes up for mistakes in the past and ushers in a new era where I find the perfect gift for Valentine's Day.