A recent poll revealed that while women plan their holiday gifts in advance, men often buy them at the gas station on the way to a family gathering.
Other men who resist the gas station consider the hardware store fertile gift-buying territory; if they buy a tool for their wife, then they will have a new tool. Or drill bits. Or a seed tiller. How would they like it if we "gave" them new linens or a coffee pot for Valentine's Day? A yoga mat?
Of course, few believe that women's feet are smaller than men's so we can get closer to the kitchen sink -- anymore. Nor does anyone laugh at the joke about the man who didn't realize his wife had passed away until the dishes piled up. But our feet are smaller. That means the size large slippers men pick up at the drug store -- along with the frozen box of candy -- fit like snow shoes or snorkel fins.
And speaking of romantic, men, don't tell your wife or girlfriend she looks beautiful by the light of one candle. Impaired observer compliments haven't worked since Blanche DuBois covered the light bulbs in Streetcar Named Desire to look younger.
If your wife or girlfriend spent three hours getting blond streaks, asymmetrical layers or a weave at the salon, don't say, "Hey, you got a hair cut."
If she's wearing a clingy, turquoise, silk top with beading, don't say, "Nice dress." If she's wearing a cheetah-print tank dress from Bebe, don't say, "Nice skirt."
Dress is a noun to women, not an adjective, as it is to men. It is fanned out by colors like navy, cornflower, robin's egg and azure -- all of which men call what? "Blue."
Few things make women feel more under-appreciated and romantically obsolete than wearing rubber gloves, a dust mask and eau de Lysol. Yet how often do men think to help her with the housework, not just lifting their legs while she vacuums around their camp site on the couch?
Any man who says, "Don't touch the windows," and, "Don't eat that in here" about his car or, "Don't step on the seeds" about his lawn has the concept of housecleaning. All he has to do is enlarge its application.
But give men the controls to our housework workhouse, the vacuum cleaner, and they think it's a game. You wonder why they're spending so long in the hallway and find them trying to vacuum a penny! If this little experiment works, the vacuum will rattle, smoke and stop working. (Right. That's why they do it.)
They'll clean with a dish rag after it's fallen on the floor, as if the germ theory of disease is still a hypothesis, and they leave laundry in the washer for 36 hours -- like they don't know where mildew comes from. They'll put dirty dishes waiting in the dishwasher back in the cupboard -- thanks for that -- and empty ice trays in the freezer. Don't they know where ice comes from?
Still, even the most housework-impaired man can take his wife or girlfriend to a restaurant so she doesn't have to cook -- as long as it's not a restaurant that gives you a beeper that vibrates when your order is ready, plays emo oldies and has Wi-Fi-ing tweens giggling in the next booth.
He can buy her something sexy to wear -- or not wear -- as long as it's not marked "large," isn't a snuggie and doesn't have the price tag attached.
And he can give her something metallic and eternal in a small box -- as long as it's not drill bits.