Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


The Valentine’s Day gift hunt

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Bush Administration remains entangled in a diplomatic game of Twister centering on a region with cultures extremely different from our own. This game dominates the news, as both Bush and Hussein appear to take turns misunderstanding each other.

Such problems in cultural communication are nothing new: the early relationship between European Americans and Native Americans was a textbook example of cross-cultural misunderstanding, as was the fatal decision by the Japanese to make a surprise attack on a Sunday morning against Pearl Harbor in World War II.

Such miscommunication can lead to tragedy, suffering or just plain insult. And in these two days before America’s holiday for lovers, no one realizes such potential dangers more than the men of this country. Men are really fairly simple creatures. Women know this; some have successfully manipulated us for years. But our translation guide to the female culture remains incomplete, inaccessible and full of contradictions. At no time of the year do men realize this complete lack of understanding more than when shopping for a gift for Valentine’s Day.

Gift: Jewelry

We think: Women always like jewelry, don’t they? I mean, look at those women on “Joe Millionaire.”


Women say: “Oh, so you don’t care about me enough to get me something sweet and personal … And jewelry? Do you think I’m as materialistic as those gold diggers in “Joe Millionaire?”

Gift: Personal poetry

We think: It’s personal, it’s sweet and ladies eat that poetry stuff up.

Women say: “Oh, so you don’t care about me enough to spend any money for Valentine’s Day? And heart and orchard don’t rhyme, Shakespeare.”

Gift: Champagne

We think: It worked for Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman.”

Women say: “Oh, so you just thought you’d get me liquored up so I’d put out, huh? I’m not a prostitute.”

Gift: Big stuffed animal

We think: It’s cute and not at all suggestive — ought to be safe.

Women say: “What, am I dating my father?”

Gift: Lingerie

We think: It won’t be mistaken for something from her father.

Women say: “This is a size too big — you think I’m fat,” or “This is a size too small — I must be fat,” or “This is too slutty — you think I’m a whore,” or “This is too conservative — you think I’m a prude,” or “This is perfect — the guy I date next will love it.”

Gift: Dinner and a movie

We think: How can this possibly go wrong?

Women say: “Oh, so you think Valentine’s Day is just like any other date? You don’t think I’m special?”

Gift: Serenade her at dinner

We think: She’ll know she’s special if I’m willing to make an ass of myself for her.

Women say: “You are quite possibly the worst singer in the world. This is the most embarrassing night of my life. Take me home.”

Gift: Personalized CD with songs that capture the relationship

We think: I feel kind of like a tool, but maybe she’ll like it.

Women say: “You are a tool.”

Gift: Flowers

We think: Men have done it for centuries.

Women say: “Oh, so you think our love will whither and die like these roses? I need somebody serious. And really original, by the way.”

Gift: Engagement ring

We think: It’ll show how serious I am.

Women say: “Oh, so you celebrate this day of love by offering me a symbol of the oppression of women for the last thousand years? You think you can make me your property now, that I will love, honor and cherish you because you buy me a little band of gold with a diamond in it? And where did that diamond come from? Did you get a guarantee that it wasn’t a conflict diamond from Sierra Leone? Little children are losing their lives in war, and you’re helping the armies buy weapons. So you oppress women and fund terrorism, and yet you had the nerve to say the Taliban were awful? I think you ought to be part of the Axis of Evil.”

And so it goes. George Bush might have trouble sending the right message to Saddam Hussein, but such struggles probably pale in comparison to his gaffes with Laura along the way.

Men and women will continue to coexist, because the future of the species depends upon it. But on Valentine’s Day, we are forced to wonder if that may be the only thing holding our two cultures together.

Matt Lynch ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in English and political science.

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