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Love Lab

Human nature

The simplest gift

Last year was our first Valentine’s Day together. My girlfriend and I had been together just three months, so it had to be special. I’d had a few relationships in the past and would normally feel fairly confident with the task at hand, however, this was my partner’s very first Valentine’s with someone so I had to up my game.

Not that hard a challenge? Did I tell you my partner is an award-winning, lesbian romance fiction writer? It’s her job to be so ridiculously romantic that people fall in love with her more-than-perfect female Casanovas.

If ever there was a genuine need for a real-life fairy Godmother, this was it.

I decided to start with the obvious. My partner had never had flowers bought for her before, so I searched for the perfect floral gift. I came across silver roses, ever-lasting flowers that would never wilt and could survive being hidden in the bottom of my over-stuffed wardrobe until the big day. However, they were either ridiculously expensive and out of my price range, or so cheap and nasty looking, I could do a better job with a coat hanger and some tin foil. In my desperation to find the perfect rose I ran out of time and ended up having to resort to the last, rather pathetic looking, artificial flower clinging desperately to life in Clinton’s card shop.

A love letter penned from the heart was my next attempt, but when you have received dozens of romantic notes from a professional romance writer, “Roses are red, violets are blue…” just doesn’t cut it. I found a compromise. A little wooden figure of a girl holding a big red love heart and a hidden compartment underneath her dress for a little piece of paper. It was the perfect size to write something simple and to the point. I bought the figure and returned home to think of the perfect, easy note to write. Three hours later, once I had cleaned up the ink stain on my chin after biting through my pen in frustration, I settled with a simple, “I love you”. I folded the tiny piece of paper and stuffed it inside the secret hole… a little too far. I tried to pull it back out, it was stuck! My love note would never see the light of day.

I had one final chance at winning the ‘most romantic girlfriend of the year’ prize. It had to be good. I decided to go for the most obvious when it comes to my partner – cookies. If she were on death row, her final meal would be a large plate of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. My own home-made biscuits were her favourite, so I rushed back into town for the ingredients and some Valentine-themed presentation supplies.

With cookie dough in my hair, flour smeared across my face and chocolate chips melting into the kitchen lino, I threw the baking tray full of heart shaped dreams into the pre-heated oven and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had time to clean up and get the delivery prepared. I was digging out the mini-jute ‘love’ bag and red tissue paper when a faint aroma drifted from the kitchen. I dashed to whip open the oven door just in time to see the final heart explode and merge with the giant, Texas shaped blob in the middle of the baking tray.

An hour later, my girlfriend and I were exchanging gifts. Needless to say I was spoilt rotten and showered with romantic gestures to rival a Shakespearean sonnet. My partner received a half-dead fake rose, a love note stuck up the bum of a wooden ornament (which I later dropped and decapitated) and a giant half-burnt cookie.

I promised to make it up to her the following day when we went shopping. She could have anything she wanted, anything at all. She decided she wanted a toilet brush! “We need one”, was her explanation.

A few months later I surprised her with the most romantic lakeside proposal. I made a book out of a piece of wood and carved out, “The next chapter of our lives starts when you turn this page…Will you marry me?”

I could have bought my girlfriend a brick and she would have loved it, as long as it came from the heart. We are at our most romantic when we are being ourselves, without the commercial-fueled pressure that surrounds February 14th. So rather than get yourself into a knot and risk disappointing yourself more than your desired, just be yourself.

Valentine’s Day can leave us under so much pressure to get it right that we miss the thing that is most important. Just say “I love you”.


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