My Top Ten Valentine’s Tips – for the Boys

angel-427480_1280As a long-time single with an admittedly cynical streak, I have no love for Valentine’s Day, nor Valentine’s Night, nor (because one solitary day just isn’t enough any more for the retailers and restaurateurs) the drawn-out torture of Valentine’s Week.

With its tsunami of slush and lovey-doviness; simpering songs, pitiful poems, oozingly creepy messages from Bunnikins to Big-Boy and more schmaltz than you can shake a dozen overpriced red roses at – the whole Valentine’s thing leaves me stony-cold.

But if you’re paired-off in any meaningful way, it’s tough. The Season of Lurve places a burden on people – especially the men – to deliver on excessive romantic expectations. You, sad souls, are deluded and doomed.

Yes, it’s true. When it comes to meeting outlandish romantic expectations, most men are on a hapless hiding to nothing, condemned to failure before they even start. Their card will be too flippant, not romantic enough or an all-too-obvious last-minute garage purchase; their flowers will be flaccid, their chocolates a cliché; the restaurant will be overcrowded and noisy and the romantic dinner for two a lukewarm letdown. As for any heat in the bedroom (a vain attempt to counteract the chill that will have descended during the day), with the mood so deflated by devotional disaster, only the most dauntless will be able to rise to the occasion.

So, with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek (you realised, right?), I offer a few notes of advice to those hapless guys out there who, despite the promise of almost certain failure, aren’t yet ready to give up before they start.

Here then, are my tips for the boys – how to make your girlfriend/wife/partner’s Valentine’s Day memorable for all the right reasons.

  1. Spend A LOT of money on flowers. Gentlemen, when it comes to florals, size matters. Flowers say, ‘I love you this much’. So get a very big and ostentatious display. Spend more than you imagined spending in your entire lifetime on flowers, in one go. Find the best bouquet of flowers you can afford and then borrow more money from your mates and get a bigger, better one.
  2. Deliver your bouquet in person, preferably to her place of work, so all her friends will see what a lucky, lucky lady she is, to own such a wonderful, thoughtful, generous man.
  3. Buy nothing from a garage or motorway service station. Don’t even think of it.
  4. Get a card. Do it. Get one.  Make it tasteful and arty or quirky, but never dirty. Make sure it says love on it somewhere, or prepare yourself for histrionics. Don’t make the mistake of thinking cards are silly. To women, they’re not in the least silly. They will be pored over; their sentiments will be analysed, and providing they make the grade in appropriate levels of taste and expressions of affection, they will be cherished forever in a shoebox under the bed.
  5. When you encounter a naughty underwear shop, walk on by, particularly if the window is dressed with shiny red and black satin. These vile shreds are for you, not her. They show how selfish and deviant you are and you don’t want this thought in her head on Valentine’s Day.
  6. Forget overpriced eating out; cook a meal for her. She won’t care how caustic or inedible the result, she will love you for the attempt. Make food you know she adores, even if you can’t stand it – in fact, particularly if you can’t stand it, as she will love you all the more for your sacrifice.
  7. Fill her car up with petrol/gasoline. It is the gift of all gifts. There’s nothing a woman hates more than when her hands reek of gasoline. It is within your purview to take this misery away.
  8. Unless the pair of you is already acclimatised to painting the town Fifty Shades of Grey, don’t go there for Valentine’s night. If you catch yourself wondering what she might look like in a studded patent leather basque, or whether she might enjoy being roped to the bedposts, or if Valentine’s night might be the appropriate moment to introduce whips and paddles to the bedroom, slap your own face hard and move your naughty little mind along. If you really want to go there, save it for another night; any night, just not this one. The ONLY acceptable play on Valentine’s night is romantic. Got it?
  9. Make it a movie night. Forget Fifty Shades of Grey and hide those movies away – you know the ones I mean. Acquire two or more of the following, plus a box of properly luxurious Belgian chocolates, for your shared pleasure and a guarantee of cuddles and more besides: Sleepless in Seattle, An Officer and A Gentleman, You’ve Got Mail, Brief Encounter, The Way We Were, An Affair to Remember, When Harry Met Sally, Ghost, The Bridges of Madison County, Before Sunrise, Brokeback Mountain, Gone With The Wind, Titanic, Notting Hill, Pretty Woman or Dirty Dancing. Have tissues on standby. No, not for that; for womantic weepiness.
  10. Give her something small which is loaded with meaning and memory. Guys, this one’s a winner and there’s another upside; this kind of gift usually costs little or nothing in cash money terms and it will balance out your investment in the flowers. It can be as small as a pebble from the beach you first kissed on, a fridge magnet from your first holiday together. Nest your tender, thoughtful objet in a box with tissue paper and tie it with a ribbon, then tell her the story of why you kept it. But… I can hear you thinking, how are you ever going to get hold of a sentimental giftie like that – because you’ll never have kept such a thing from its original magical moment. You know that, and I know that. But hey, don’t be troubled by this minor detail. There are pebbles in your garden and fridge magnets from the four corners of the globe on eBay. She’ll never know (because you won’t ever be dumb enough to tell her, will you?) and you won’t believe the cosmic effect your romantic gesture will have on your relationship.

So that’s it – take the advice of this hoary old cynic and a pathway to romantic bliss awaits. Possibly.

And… Happy V… V… oh, I can’t say it. But if you’re into it, have a magnificently slushy time.  😉

Ten things you should never eat on a first date

oysters-220955_1280 - narrowOrdering any of these foods on a first date is, in my humble opinion, a relationship-limiting move. Doh.

  1. Corn on the cob – no one looks luscious with their face smeared in melted butter. No one.
  2. French Onion soup – the one with the giant indigestible cheesy crouton floater. To say nothing of the gastrointestinal impact of the alliums.
  3. Snails in garlic butter – you might love them (as I do) but for some, the yuk-factor of these gummy little garden critters is insurmountable.
  4. Oysters – yes, really; they’re seriously overburdened with sexual innuendo and have no role to play on a respectable first date.
  5. Spaghetti Bolognaise – or indeed any flicky tomato-based spaghetti dish. It’s just not cool when your shirt looks like it’s been raining tomato sauce.
  6. Anything requiring chopsticks – unless you’re confident you can deploy them dexterously and without making a total ass of yourself.
  7. Anything wrapped in puff pastry – watching as you choke on stray flakes of dry pastry will smother your date’s libido.
  8. ‘Blue’ steak – order this only when you’re certain your partner is also a vampire.
  9. Sweetbreads – some people are inexplicably squeamish about animal glands. Most mistakenly believe them to be testicles. The potential yuk-factor rating amongst the untutored is up in the stratosphere – we’re in ‘I’m a Celebrity’ territory here.
  10. And last, but not least… Spare Ribs – they come with A BIB. Enough said.