Yesterday I had my annual conversation with my husband about Valentine’s Day. Earlier in our marriage there were a few V-Days when – paralized by the expectations he felt surrounding the day – he did absolutely nothing and got a tearful rebuke from me at bedtime. (I just wanted to see a little effort. After all, we had two young sons. Someday they might have wives. Did we want to raise them thinking they could ignore all sentimental holidays?) Anyway, he’s always been a little skittish on the subject, and I wanted to make it easier on him.

I told him that either flowers or good chocolates would be nice. Jewelry, perfume and lingerie were unnecessary. This last bit was added to counter the flood of commercials this week showing women bursting into tears of joy upon opening gifts from their beloved. Jackpot! the guys’ expressions seemed to say. Apparently V-Day has become an annual rite where men have to grapple with the unsolvable question, What do women want?

“You don’t have to get me a card, and I won’t get one for you.” (I knew how picked-over and lame the selection would be by February 13th.) “In fact, forget the chocolates.” (I knew the definition of  “good chocolates” would cause more angst.) “Just get me some flowers.”

“What kind of flowers?”

“Well, I like tulips. They cost less than roses and you can get them at Stop and Shop.”

He still looked wary. “What color?”

“Hmmm…. well, since you ask, I like yellow, pink, red, and orange, not necessarily in that order. I prefer a single color to mixed.”

“You mean mixed in the bouquet or mixed on the flower. You know some flowers have those streaks…”

Sheeese! I’m thinking at this point. Am I really that difficult? I think of myself as a low-maintenance wife. I’m trying to offer helpful suggestions here, not a list of demands! It’s this crazy holiday!

Then, in the interest of fair play, I asked him, “Now what would you like for Valentine’s Day?” I was sure the answer would be “nothing.”

“I want you not to feel short-changed.”

“Oh! Okay I won’t.” That was easy.