Tales From A Hungry Life

February 15, 2013

Valentine’s Day: The Mourning After

By Maria Schulz

Always right

Always right

The big day—Valentine’s Day—has come and gone. You know, that special day when men feel horribly pressured to give gifts and be romantic and women wait by the window, watching for their life-changing big gift to arrive.

I grew up with boys, so I remember how much pressure there was to get a gift that sent the right message, cost the right amount of money, and satisfied some inner need of the girl. You know, the one that was never expressed in words but that she definitely expected you to understand—because after all, if you loved her, you’d know what she wanted without asking.

From lots of trial, error, angry girlfriends and even angrier breakups, the men I’ve known have figured out a few critical things about gift-giving in the minefield of Valentine’s Day.

The 10 Top Things to Remember Next Valentine’s Day

1) Do not ever, ever, EVER give your girlfriend a gift of jewelry that comes in a ring box, or one that remotely looks like a ring box, unless you are getting engaged. To do so will result in an immediate confiscation of all brownie points earned thus far, and long and unhappy days and weeks ahead for all parties.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Danger, Will Robinson!

2) Flower colors really do have meaning. For the love of God, do NOT give yellow roses (meaning: friendship) when you should give red roses (meaning: passionate love).

3) If you are just starting out with a new girlfriend, a small stuffed animal and a box of chocolates should be enough to satisfy the raging Valentine’s beast. But that’s only if she’s under the age of 17.

4) Never, ever give that same gift to a committed girlfriend, fiancée or wife, unless you want to learn the real meaning of regret.

5) Those commercials on TV for giant stuffed Teddy Bears are cute and funny, but don’t expect to see a 10,000-megawatt smile on your lady friend’s face when you hand her this gift. This mammoth dust-collector takes up an entire couch and should be expected to pay rent if he’s going to live with her full time.

If he intends to get a job, then maybe....

If he intends to get a job, then maybe….

6) When your girlfriend, wife or mother says, “Don’t get me flowers. I don’t need flowers!” what she really means is, “of course I don’t need flowers, but I’m saying this so we can keep up the element of surprise. You don’t need a big screen TV, but that didn’t stop you!”

7) Appliances are not romantic gifts. If you buy one for your girlfriend (even boyfriends don’t want one), you are not romantic. You’re lazy! Wait until February 15 to buy her that new coffeemaker. You won’t be sorry.

8) If you live in the tropics or are a small child, by all means gather up a freshly picked bouquet of flowers and feel good about yourself. All others: call a florist.

9) Don’t have much money? Put even the smallest amount of effort into the gift, and you will be thanked tenfold. If her favorite romantic movie of all time is Sleepless in Seattle, buy her the DVD or download the movie, cook her dinner (chicken Kiev or chicken nuggets, doesn’t matter as long as you try) and sacrifice one night of torture watching that chick flick for a gift that gives you romantic street cred.

A little romance

A little romance

10) Remember this Golden Rule: if your sweetheart works in an office and every other woman in the office gets flowers AND SHE DOESN’T, you will be in trouble. Don’t be that guy.

I have always enjoyed hearing others tell me about their Valentine’s Day gifts. The champagne/flowers,/engagement ring/best Valentine’s Day of my life stories are always lovely and charming, but give me a good old cried all night/crash-and-burn/fiery conflagration/worst Valentine’s Day of my life story, and I’m all ears.

From my many years of listening, observing, and oh yeah, being a girl, I have heard about (and lived through) many terrible Valentine’s Days. Here is a very unscientific poll of the worst Valentine’s Day gifts ever:

For the Ladies….

  • Mini-Vacuum
  • Toaster
  • Vest
  • Galoshes
  • Umbrella
  • Hats
  • Bag of M&Ms
  • Framed baby photo—of boyfriend!
  • Tickets to a wrestling match
  • Dead Flowers
  • No Flowers
  • Nothing

For the Men…

  • Frames
  • Ties
  • Shirt
  • DVD of any rom-com or chick flick
  • Key chains
  • Gloves
  • Flowers
  • Car Wax
  • Gift certificate for mani/pedi
  • Candles
  • Book of Love Poems
  • Downloads of your (note: not his. He doesn’t care) favorite romantic songs

I’ve gotten my fair share of terrible gifts in my time. Yes, that framed baby photo of the boyfriend was mine. I think I would’ve preferred a tee-shirt that said “I’m With Stupid!”

This would've been a better gift

This would’ve been a better gift

Luckily, I am blessed with a husband who is kind, considerate, and doesn’t listen to me when I tell him not to get me flowers. I have also gotten my fair share of terrific gifts, and even though they are not as funny as the bad ones, here’s a story about one of my favorites.

When I was 8, I took a bad fall. I had to wear a neck brace, suffered a terrible concussion, and sported a lovely, eggplant-shaped bruise on my face. My inability to walk around without getting dizzy and throwing up meant I had to stay in bed for 3 weeks.

Don't try this at home.

Don’t try this at home.

February 14th fell during that time, and I was feeling down since I thought I wouldn’t be getting any Valentine’s Day cards that year. But lo and behold, my 3rd grade teacher had all of my classmates make cards and write me letters. Mostly, they said: “Get Well Maria!” and “Come back soon! We miss you!” But here are the two that I enjoyed the most, for very different reasons.

Dear Maria:

I would’ve never sent you this card, but Mrs. G. made me do it. The class is much quieter without you and I can get a lot of work done. I don’t miss you but I am sorry you broke your head. See you soon.


Then there was this one:

Dear Dear Dear Dear Maria,

Life just isn’t as much fun without you. I haven’t laughed once since you’ve been gone. There’s no one to share my snack with at snack time, and Mary Beth keeps playing her flute and singing “Kumbayah” but you’re not here to laugh along with me! Get better and come back soon. I miss you!

Here is some money to get you through. Have Chris go get you some Wacky Packs to keep you company while you rest.



P.S. Don’t listen to Thomas. He’s an idiot.

Change is good!

Change is good!

Perette taped $1 in change to my card, which was also decorated with hearts, flowers, kittens and puppies. She knew I was a sucker for kittens and puppies. $1 was enough for 4 wacky packs, so Chris and I could share. We sat in my bed and howled with laughter over our cards. Then, we almost broke our teeth on the hard-as-wood gum that came along with it. Those were good times and resulted in one of the best Valentine’s Days ever.

Gotta love 'em

Gotta love ’em

So Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite Valentine’s memory? Best gift? Worst? Please help me continue my unscientific research and let us all know by leaving a comment below.  Thanks!


Chicken Kiev

chicken kiev

Yes, Valentine’s Day is over, but there’s a long weekend ahead. Go ahead and cook—and start earning those brownie points all over again.


Have the butcher butterfly the breasts for you and pound them to 1/8” thickness if you can’t do it yourself.




  1. Love this Maria 🙂

    Comment by Christine — February 15, 2013 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  2. One of the blessings of Alzheimer’s was that the last 10 years or so of my marriage I never had to worry about getting a Valentine’s day gift. First of all my wife didn’t have any idea what year it was much less than what day it was. Secondly She always wondered where her husband was. How do I know this? She was always asking me. Factor that time with the fact she had passed some five years ago and the amount of time I never really had to consider anything about Valentine’s day amounted to about 15 years. So thanks to AD I had less pressure to consider what to do for my girl on Feb. 14. But this year I was faced with the fact that I had to participate in the great Valentine’s day Kabuki dance. I did not have Maria’s Blog to guide me so I just plodded ahead figuring I would be able to take care of the situation when the day came up. Then suddenly it hit me, if I don’t do something early I won’t be able to do anything at all. So after panicking I did what any male who remembered his mother disowning every male in her house for not even sending a card when she said she really didn’t want anything not even a card, would do. I asked my girl explaining I was out of practice. Everything turned out OK, but for a while I was lost at sea. but now I am back in the water swimming very well thank you.

    Comment by Bglou — February 15, 2013 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  3. Love this post! I did chuckle at Thomas’s Valentine’s card to you. I wonder what ever happened to him. I don’t know exactly how to rate this Valentine’s gift so I will leave it up to you. A few years ago your brother gave me a plot in St Mary’s Cementary and said Happy Valentine’s Day. I didn’t know what to think or how to react. He quickly responded when he saw my blank stare with, “Honey its eternal real estate. It’s the gift that never stops giving and I bet no one else ever got this for their Valentine’s present.” Somehow I hope no one ever does though I guess I can cross this off my list of what I need to do! Isn’t he such a romantic! Got to love him!

    Comment by Kathleen Lagalante — February 15, 2013 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

    • Kathie, I wish you had told me this sooner. That would have definitely made the list of worst Valentine’s Day gifts! Although, if you really think about it, you can say that my brother is a true romantic because he wants to spend all eternity next to you! (And Tony, you can thank me later for that one).

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 19, 2013 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  4. This is hysterical, Maria! Framed baby photo! LOL!!! Please tell me it wasn’t bare butt on bear rug! :-O

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — February 19, 2013 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

    • No such luck. You should have seen my face when he gave it to me. I thought the photo was the type of thing that came with the frame! I was so confused. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 25, 2013 @ 9:52 am | Reply

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