Thursday, 14 February 2013

Retail Tales: Why the World is Falling Apart #3

     Valentine's Day.

      Do any other words send such a shudder down the spines of men?

      Well, tampon, vasectomy and Twilight might do it.

      Though it is probably rightly called a "greeting-card holiday," and the tradition of Valentine's is a pretty big load of hooey, it's actually not a twentieth century invention. The romantic connotations aren't as old as the saint for which they're named, but they do date back to Chaucer, which means they're over 600 years old. But it still doesn't make any sense. Aren't you supposed to love someone all the time? Didn't I buy you dinner last week? Am I not paying the electricity bill? You better love having lights in here!

Ever see the "Trash of the Titans" episode of The Simpsons that leads off with the new holiday "Love Day," made up to boost lagging sales in mid-spring? It makes a great point about popular opinion of Valentine's: we're still paying for Christmas you greedy pricks, piss off!

      My stance is that I love my partner every day of the year, and I believe I express it often, and as such, Valentine's is sort of pointless. But, she is the sort of uber-thoughtful creature who is always looking for an excuse to do nice things for people, and I like, in turn, to do nice things for her. My mom always gets me some chocolate, because she's the sweetest and I like chocolate, and that's great. I also think that any celebration is usually a good excuse to celebrate, because enjoying life is healthy, but that's not what's happening here.

      What throws me off is that I've noticed many, many girls and women saying they, too, think Valentine's is a cow-patty burger masquerading as a steak. Then they get angry when, after telling their man that it's silly and not to worry about it, they don't get anything.

      Probably the single best explanation I've received for this puzzling phenomenon came from a former employee who was a few flowers short of a bouquet, and therefore a surprising source of wisdom. She told me that yes, most girls do feel it's a made-up, hogwash day, and that it's corny, and that they don't particularly care about flowers or cards (chocolate is different), BUT it hurts them to see other girls getting stuff, and being cared for, when they don't.

      The girls who don't care about celebrating this day get jealous when they see other girls who don't care about celebrating this day, celebrating this day.

      Well, whatever. It sort of makes sense. It's dumb and petty and lends zero credence to arguments against the stereotype that females are catty and jealous, but at least it's some kind of explanation.

     (No one seems to have thought of the obvious fact that all holidays are made up. Can't quite piece that one together yet.)

      So how, this time, is the retail world a barometer of such a seemingly hypocritical, fickle interpersonal mess?

It's not.
      I just wanted to point it out, because it chaps my ass.
No, you don't.
      The trend I noticed today at work was a bit different, and, I must admit, one I've never picked up on before. I could only scratch my head at how many times I was asked:

      "You're a guy, do you think my boyfriend will like this balloon, or this one?"
      I...uhm. What?
      Then I acted like I slipped and split my head open on the floor so I didn't have to answer. I'm begging you, please stop asking me these kinds of questions, I don't like lying.
      This retail tale is about how the mind of many a young woman has obviously been twisted. Why in the world are you asking me this? Why in the world are you in here blowing upwards of 20-60 doll hairs on balloons? Who told you this is an acceptable, let alone good, gift? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
      A lot of comics remark on how simple men are, and as a very unsimple man I can only disagree, but you could do so many better things with your efforts. Spend that money on a steak, a package of bacon, a new hat, a pair of socks, a case of beer, a knife, a tomahawk ,a really big knife, a puppy, something relevant to him loving you or you loving him (in your chosen format), a pencil sharpener, a fart machine, a book, a bag of french fries, a season of My Little Pony on DVD, or his favourite liquor.
     Or don't spend money! Rub his back, laugh at his awful impressions, pretend like you care about Epic Meal Time or Call of Dudes.
      But no.     

      Do you know this person at all?
      Now, I try not to generalize, as it is entirely possible any given man may be thrilled about getting some floating rubber sacs of slightly differing colours. Still, I'm going to play the stereotype card (as a friend always reminds me, "It's quicker!") and say that these efforts are horribly, horribly misguided. Why, in the bloody buggering balls of Christ, would you think this is a good idea?
      Today, the retail world confirmed one of my long held suspicions. All those sitcoms where men buy their partners gifts that they would like themselves were actually a way for women to shift blame for a practice they are in fact culpable of!
      It is you, balloon-buying girlfriend or wife, who is the thoughtless one! It is you who doesn't understand your partner, it is you who does not listen! Take THAT, The View! Take THAT, comedy repertoire of syndicated television and second rate stand-up comics!
      I entreat you again: please stop spending money on this garbage. Get creative; you'll both be much happier. Or, be really crazy; actually think about your partner and what they like, instead of what you've been programmed to think they want.
      And Crappy Vilentine's, you goofy mouth-breathers.
      God, I hate Epic Meal Time.

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