I was watching TV the other day when a commercial came on for a company that makes gigantic teddy bears. I do not remember the announcer’s exact words but they were something along the lines of “Hey guys, buy your special lady a 6-foot teddy bear and she will – wink-wink, nudge-nudge – return the favor later that night, if you know what I mean – ah-WOO-gah, ah-WOO-gah!” There may have been other sound effects like honk honk or wheee-wheee as well. It’s hard to remember.
But that was the gist.
Several observations: One, who the hell wants a 6-foot teddy bear? Kids, yes, I can see that. But adult women – do they really want one of these things?
To find out I turned to my favorite test subject, the lovely yet formidable Marcia, who was watching the commercial with me. I slyly said, “Hey, maybe I’ll get you one of those.”
Without looking away from the TV she said, “I would kill you.”
And I think she meant it. Literally. You don’t know her. I sleep with one eye open.
I asked her why she wouldn’t want one and she put down her popcorn, looked at me and said, “One, it’s over the top. Two, I’m a grown woman. That’s cute when you’re 18 but a grown woman doesn’t want a teddy bear any more than you want a G.I. Joe doll. We want dinner, OK? Three, where would I put something that big?”
“I’m that big,” I reminded her.
“Exactly. It’d be another you sitting around taking up space, except I don’t have to dust you. Are you going to dust it because I’m not going to dust it?”
So, OK, that’s out.
Second observation: Have you noticed that just about every TV commercial for Valentine’s Day strongly implies a male-female quid pro quo (which is Latin for “If I give you something you gotta give me something in return –wink-wink, nudge-nudge, heh-heh, thank you very much, guvnah! Ah-WOO-gah!”)
I’m sure that’s been obvious to you all along but I only noticed it this year. I don’t catch on quickly.
But it’s true. Chocolate commercials do it, fruit bouquet commercials do it, flower shop commercials do it. Even car commercials do it: “Get your sweetie a new car and she’ll be so happy she’ll …” What, wash your fenders?
Honestly, if I were a woman and it was clear a guy wanted something in return for his Valentine’s gift, I’d purr seductively and say, “And here’s something for you, big boy!” Then hand him a new wrench. “The upstairs faucet is leaking. Make yourself useful.”
Or I’d deck him – one of the two.
Call me a mushy husband or an old-fashioned romantic but a Valentine’s gift, like all gifts, should come with no strings attached, no expectations. It should be a natural and strings-free expression of your respect, admiration and love.
And I’m almost certain I’d say that even if Marcia weren’t reading over my shoulder.