Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Valentine's Public Service Announcement

Many years ago, my husband David was visiting his friend Fred Bramante up in New Hampshire when the subject of D-I-V-O-R-C-E was broached. I don’t know HOW the conversation came up, and I don’t want to know WHY the topic surfaced, but I suspect the boys were feeling pretty frisky as they buzzed around in Fred’s sleek black BMW. Both men are music merchants, with David owning “Steinway Piano Gallery of St. Louis” and Fred owning (are you ready for this?) “Daddy’s Junky Music Store,” a chain of 20 guitar shops. It might seem like the guys are worlds apart, but they have a shared history as entrepreneurs in a tough business. And at the time, both were fathers to demanding toddlers and husbands to tired wives.

“Ever think about divorcing your wife?” asked David.

“Sure,” said Fred. “The thought crosses my mind. But whenever it does, I get this vision. I see the sign over my flagship store.”
“The sign?” said David.
“Yeah, the sign.” Fred sighed. “Mommy’s Junky Music Store.”
So with Valentine’s Day approaching, I’m delivering this Public Service Announcement to all you husbands out there: “Don’t blow this holiday. Take a tip from Fred. The stakes are too high. You do not want to get divorced.”
Especially in this economy.
You can talk about your stock portfolio taking a dive, you can curse the name Bernie
Madoff, you can worry about the solvency of your bank, but if you want to stay financially sound, you do NOT want to make a trip to divorce court. According to research scientist Jay Zagorsky of Ohio State University, divorce reduces a person’s wealth by 77% compared to that of a single
Furthermore, according to Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher in their book The Case for Marriage, staying hitched is good for your career, with married men getting more promotions and receiving higher performance ratings.
So if you haven’t done your Valentine’s Day shopping, you need to get busy--FAST. Allow me to assist with some simple rules for pleasing that special woman in your life:

1. Buy her a dozen red roses—hang the cost. And count them before you hand the suckers over. I once received eleven and set up such a howl the neighbors called the cops. “You only love me ELEVEN roses worth?” I moaned.

2. Buy her chocolate. A few pieces of the best you can afford. It’s the luxury that counts, not the calories.

3. Stay away from Victoria’s Secret. Oh, I know what you think—“I’ll get her something sexy.” That’s for YOU, pal, not for her. Besides, you’ll probably buy the wrong size. Their clothes only fit anorexic pre-teens with implants. (If you married an anorexic pre-teen with implants, all I have to say is, "Oooo. Yuck. You are a sick puppy.")

4. Buy her a beautiful card with lovely, romantic sentiments. (Hint: If there’s a dog or a golfer on the front, it’s not going to make her happy. Trust me on this.)

5. Make reservations at a special restaurant. A quick swing through Mickey D’s will not cut the mustard. Let her know in ADVANCE that you’re going out to eat. See, part of the joy is anticipation. (Review the song by Carole King a couple hundred times for help with this concept.)
6. Resist, resist, resist, resist the urge to buy any of the following: lawnmowers, garbage disposals, snowblowers, weed-whackers, drills, sanders, car parts, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, clothes washers, tools (even pink ones), and especially big screen TVs.

7. Buy her a copy of Paper, Scissors, Death and pre-order Cut, Crop & Die, the second book in the series, from Amazon or your local independent bookseller. That way she'll have a gift for now (plus a code for 50 free digital prints) and a surprise from you later. (And when the book arrives in June, you can smile and say, "See? I love you twelve months a year, darling. I don't need Valentine's Day to show you how much I care.")

And it goes without saying, you should tell her you love being married to her. Repeat after me, "Honey, I love you. I adore you. And I wouldn't want to be married to anybody but you." (Practice looking at her soulfully as you say this. It won't work if you are in the midst of changing channels on your big screen TV.)

Because you do love being married to her, you really do, especially given the state of the economy.


Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

I tell my wife how much I love being married every day.
Our first date was on valentines day

G.M. Malliet said...

I have another suggestion: Instead of taking her out for a pricey meal, cook her a nice dinner with champagne. NOTE: You should probably only try this if you know how to cook, and if you can get through the process without shouting a dozen questions from the kitchen such as: Where is the frying pan? Where do we keep the spoons? Do we have any plates? Etc.

After my husband and I spent way too much on a New Year's Eve meal in which we were rushed through the first seating by snooty French waiters, I much prefer the above recession-type romantic meal, despite the fact I'll have to supervise.

[Honey, yes, we have plates.]

G.M. Malliet said...

p.s. Jon - you must have known right away that she was the one, and vice versa. No one would risk a first date on THE BIG DAY otherwise.

Jessica Lourey said...

OK, Joanna, you know I love you, and your post was hilarious, but I gotta put my foot down, and I hope it lands on the next person who talks about Valentine's Day. I'm single, which certainly is contributing to my Valentine's Grinchiness, but I object on principle to the commodification of love, and particularly to the pressure put on men (it's the one day a year I'll defend you, guys).

If you love the one you're with, go the route of Jon and tell him/her every single day. Better yet, show 'em.

Bah. Humbug. Roses. Pah.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Jon, that's because you are married to Ruth, who is a gem, a doll, and a real catch. Give her a hug for me...

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

See, GM, it's those pesky questions and the menu of beans and corn and Doritos that caused me to exclude this option! (Love the man. But he's NO cook.)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Jess, it's not the commodification. I see VD (ha!) as a poignant public service REMINDER to say, "I love you." Some folks just need a push. And if you are unfamiliar with the language of love, you might need a coach. Hence the PSA I've offered.

David shows me a million times a day that he loves me, but some years, I've needed a bit more of a culturally approved "big deal." Besides, it's not THAT much of an effort, is it? And if you count up VD, wedding anniversary, birthday and Christmas as the biggies, we're not talking but, oh, four touchstones a year.

Since he's been known to argue with me about whether it's my birthday or not...well...VD is a public opportunity for him to get it right!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

PS Guys, check out this interview on the future of the Kindle

Cricket McRae said...

Love your post, Joanna -- very funny! I've got to jump on board with Jess, though. The diamonds=love commercials especially get to me. I'd rather have one perfect chocolate covered cherry because he was near my favorite candy store and thought of me, or a bunch of sunflowers because he knew I'd like them in the kitchen -- on any random day of the year. There's something about Hallmark deciding when he should show me he loves me that makes me grumpy.

I will admit, though, that I'm not sentimental about much. Except book releases, of course -- then I WANT CHAMPAGNE.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hmm. I see your point, Cricket. It's really the thought that counts. But I still love flowers and chocolates and gifts. Sorry, I'm just that kind of girl!

Gimme, gimme, gimme!

G.M. Malliet said...

Cricket - re. the entire industry dedicated to making you think you *have* to have are so right, there's something not so good going on there.

I'd rather spend serious diamond money on travel. What's left over goes for chocolate and champagne. Flowers are good, too.