By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Ahh, I love that spring is right around the corner. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and even the gophers in my back yard seem to be leaving my wife’s rose bushes alone.
Speaking of roses, the spring bloom must also mean it’s that time of year again — Valentine’s Day!
And now comes all the pressure.
Pressure, you say? Well, yes, and let me explain.
I’ve been married for nearly 30 years. The first few years, Valentine’s Day was a fun, romantic filled day for two young people in love. Now? We’re still in love, I’ll have you know. Any woman who can put up with her husband buying a dorky looking, battery powered, portable air conditioner that wraps around his neck and can still bear walking next to him must truly be in love.
Truth be told, I threw that thing out because I couldn’t bear the looks of people (and by people, I mean mainly my wife) staring at me while I was wearing that ridiculous contraption.
But Valentine’s Day, it used to be so easy. Buy her some chocolates. I love her. She loves me. Easy peasy.
But after a few years, chocolates just don’t have the same panache. And besides, with everyone nowadays so apprehensive about what we eat, giving a gal a box of chocolates is like wishing them a diabetic sugar bomb.
Do you know how many calories are in just one of these chocolates?!? And whoa! Look at all those carbs!
How about a bouquet of red roses? Roses are fine, but after a few years of roses, it’s starting to get predictable. Besides, I have a bit of an issue with spending $75 on a bouquet of roses that won’t keep growing, just ends up being thrown away, and you can’t even slice up to make a nice warm chowder to feed your family. I generally prefer gifts that have dual uses.
So, what does a guy do to try and top himself every year for Valentine’s Day? It’s not easy. There’s a virtual landmine of cultural no-no’s waiting for any type of gift you might think of.
How about yellow roses instead of red? In Chinese culture, yellow roses are what you might give to someone if you were planning to break up. That’s problematic. In Western culture, yellow roses are a symbol of friendship and optimism. “Friendship and optimism?” Are we husband and wife or pen pals?
Here’s another cultural no-no. In Chinese culture, giving someone an umbrella as a present is another sign of breaking up, so that’s no good. And even if it weren’t a sign for breaking up, how would that look?
Hi sweetie, Happy Valentine’s Day! I got you this umbrella! And for your birthday next month, I don’t want to give away the surprise, but go ahead and throw your old rain boots away!!
Speaking of footwear, even if my wife would actually appreciate a new pair of rain boots (which, I can tell you right now, she wouldn’t), giving a pair of shoes for Valentine’s Day is culturally unacceptable as well. Chinese tradition says that giving a pair of shoes implies “packing away” your love. Sheesh!
But I’ve also read that if you give a pair of shoes and then ask the recipient to refund you one dollar, then it breaks the curse.
So, let me get this straight. If I give my wife a pair of $500 Jimmy Choos, and she gives me back one dollar, then it’s like she bought the shoes instead of me giving it to her? She just bought a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes for $1?
I don’t think so!
OK, I’ve got it. Gift certificates! You can’t offend anyone with gift certificates, right? It might not be the most romantic thing, but then again, I wouldn’t have inadvertently broken up with anyone either. ■
Wayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.