A few days ago, I posted a Holiday Shopping Guide for Men, which contained some helpful tips for men who need to buy a gift for women and who don’t want to spend the holiday season volunteering to run out for milk in an effort to avoid the wrath of a dissatisfied wife/girlfriend/mother. The brilliant and fabulous Jason Brooks, the Yang to my Patchy Yin, posted his Women's Guide to What to Buy a Dude, which might just be one of the funniest (and truest) things I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read it yet, stop for a moment, click on the link, and do so.
Based on Jason’s post, and the comments to both of our posts, I think this subject matter deserves a little more attention.
One commentator on my post named Mike Huff (who I suspect is a non-creative alias for my husband, Mike Duff, though the Mike Duff that lives in my house isn’t owning up to anything), asked women to simply circle the items they wanted in a catalogue and leave it on the table with snack foods to bait the field. This is a fantastic response, and it would solve a thousand problems and domestic disputes. It might even cut down on some of my divorce business. As such, it will never ever in a thousand years happen.
I have some field experience on this topic. In addition to actually being a woman, I have either been in romantic relationships with guys of the opposite gender and/or been discussing the details of relationships with guys with my female friends for the better part of thirty years. This alone would qualify me. However, remember this: most of the time when I am writing these posts I am doing so to avoid the work I actually get paid to do, which is be a lawyer who specializes in, among other things, divorce. This is how I know that Mike Huff’s suggestion (whether or not that is his real name), while practical, has about as much chance of happening as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney holding hands and singing, “I’ve Got You, Babe” into each other’s eyes during the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
For men, who are largely simple to understand creatures, a gift is what it is. The gift of a tie means that the guy now has one more tie. It is not a comment on the attractiveness or quality of his other ties, nor does the fact that the tie came from Wal-Mart or Joseph A. Banks mean that you think he is low or high class. It is a tie, and if it is a grey tie, don’t get all wadded up if he doesn’t get the hint from the 50 Shades of Grey monstrosity you have probably read (but he hasn’t.)
Women, however, even the most shallow of us, refuse to see things so simply. A gift of a grey tie implies all manner of things dealt out ham-handedly by the book, such as trust and experimentation, blah blah blah. If you want the guy to get this when you give him the tie, be sure to pin a note explaining it in minute detail written in block letters (diagrams would help) to the front of it, as he might not see it if you tuck it in the back.
Remember men, that every single thing you give her (or don’t give her) is going to be interpreted in the same way. It is a pop quiz for your emotional intelligence, and you will either pass or fail. You will not be directly told your grade on the quiz, you will either be allowed to carry on with your life as it has been or, as Jason so beautifully phrased it, she will “run into the bathroom and sit on the toilet sobbing.”
The reason why she will not tell you she wants a gift certificate for a massage is because she is testing you to see if you are paying attention. She has told you that she carries tension in your shoulders. (Or maybe she hasn’t, maybe she just reaches back and rubs her own shoulder and winces when she knows you are looking.) If you REALLY REALLY loved her, you would see her need and fulfill it. If you don’t give it to her, she will ‘know’ it is because you don’t really care about her stress or physical well being and have absolutely no interest in her happiness. If you just tell him what you want, you will never know if he is giving it to you to keep you quiet, or because he really wants you to have it. The test is essential to taking the temperature of the relationship. She considers it the relationship’s annual physical. Or maybe the twice yearly dental cleaning, when you consider birthdays in the mix.
And before you boys start complaining that you are not mind readers and we should just say things more directly, let me say this: in our minds, we are being direct. Sometimes we even think this is the only polite way to do this (blog fodder for another day.) There is no way that the rubbing of shoulders and complaining about the tension therein could be interpreted to mean anything but that we need professional help in releasing this. We are just as mystified by how thick you guys can be as you are by what you think are cryptic clues that require some kind of not yet discovered gender-based Rosetta Stone to understand.
I am not saying that any of this is as it should be, nor am I explaining why this is, or taking any stand on the nature vs. nuture vs. societal norms debate – I am simply saying it is, and if you want to survive in a relationship with a woman you have to at least be aware of it.
And so, Mike Huff, or Mike Duff, or whoever you really are, I am going to break character for a moment and state something very directly: I want a gift certificate for a massage. The sooner the better.