Another View - Apples and Oranges
edited: Thursday, March 29, 2001
By Patricia C Behnke
Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2001
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This column discusses the differences between men and women on the most romantic of holidays: Valentines Day.
by Pat Behnke
For two weeks I had eagerly looked forward to a romantic Valentine’s dinner with my husband of twenty years. For the first time in all of our years of marriage, he asked me out on a date two weeks prior to the event. Usually he complained about the Hallmark holidays, but he knew the symoblism of them was important to me, so he would indulge me by buying the box of candy, the lovely card, possibly some flowers. But he buys me flowers throughout the year so I can’t complain. He writes me love notes and puts them in my lunch or on the dashboard of my car; he says he doesn’t need Hallmark to tell him when he needs to let me know that he loves me.
But this year was different. He asked me out for dinner. I suggested a few places I would like to go, but he said “It’s all been taken care of, don’t worry.”
Well, I did begin to worry. My daughter assured me that he knew better than to take me to McDonalds for this very special night, but I couldn’t be sure. After all he was breaking a twenty year tradition. We had never gone out on Valentine’s Day for dinner. But I kept my mouth shut for once and waited with anticpation.
The night of the big date, he said, “I guess I better tell you where we’re going.” He pulled an ad out which mentioned a Lover’s dinner at a local restaurant. And he had made reservations.Very impressive.
At the restaurant we walked past tables for two lit simply by candlelight, and I looked forward to the quiet dinner we would have with the rare opportunity to talk at a slow pace about our day .
The host took us to a table set for ten with a bright light shining down upon the white tablecloth.
“This isn’t very romantic,” I told my husband. I begin to make noises about moving to the smaller more intimate tables.
“I guess I better tell you everything,” he said.
“That might be a good idea,” I repsonded.
“See we had this idea that we would plan a surprise for you girls.”
He told me that a male friend of ours had gotten the idea. Then he mentioned that it included another couple, too.
“But their wives are out of town this week.”
“I know. See that’s when everything started to break down when they realized their wives wouldn’t be here on Valentine’s Day. And then this morning we found out that the other two couples who had originally been in on the surprise couldn’t make it either.”
“So let’s get a smaller table,” I said reasonably.
I looked up at this precise moment and saw the two husbands whose wives were away for the week.
“No, we can’t do that. Look who’s here!” My husband was so proud of himself as we greeted our two friends.
It wasn’t the romantic Valentine’s Day of my dreams, but I soon forgot that as I realized that I was a very lucky woman indeed. I didn’t have one date for the night; I had three. The two other men, lonely for their wives for the night, knew that it would be all right if they came to dinner with us. And it was.
But it made me think about the differences between men and women. I’d always believed that somehow women were the smarter and more intuitive of the sexes. Women were from New York: sassy, sophisticated, and responsible. Men were from California: laid back, never worrying about the future, and a little irresponsible on the social end of life. Women were oranges: difficult to get beyond the skin and pulp, but juicy once the facade was broken through. Men were apples: what you see is what you get and what you eat.
Now after my Valentine’s night, I’m not so sure of my analogies. I tried to imagine if one of my female friends or I had planned this Valentine’s surprise. First, we wouldn’t have. We women look at Valentine’s Day as a sort of sacred holiday with hopes and expectations which are often disappointed by our aspirations to the perfect romantic experience. We wouldn’t have thought to include others in our selfish pursuit of something which probably can’t be attained in the first place.
Second, if we had planned it, we would have probably cancelled when the first couple cancelled. We wouldn’t have considered the fact that two of the people in question would have to spend the evening alone.
Or we would have postponed until the weekend and then cooked and cleaned ourselves into a frenzy throwing a bash for our men who prefer beer and chips to the gourmet creations served with wine.
Now who’s the brightest? The most responsible? The most thoughtful? The women who didn’t even try or the men who did try to plan an evening of romance for the women in their lives who they know place a high importance on this one sacred day of the year? They tried in the best way to place an importance upon a “Hallmark” holiday which they really don’t understand, at least from the point of view of a New York orange.
But the whole point is they tried. And they wanted to please us. And they understood the importance of friendship and love.
And I spent an evening in the company of good friends who toasted not only me but the missing women in their lives and sang praises to the beauty of relationships. Perhaps it’s time I started taking lessons in the art of romance from the California apples.