Tips for giving her the perfect Valentine's gift - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Tips for giving her the perfect Valentine's gift

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Dolly Withrow Dolly Withrow

A retired English professor, Dolly Withrow is the author of four books, including "The Confident Writer," a grammar-based college textbook.

This is a self-help column to aid you anxious men in getting through yet another Valentine's Day. According to one legend, St. Valentine was a martyred priest who defied Claudius II. Claudius believed that love would weaken his soldiers, and who could tolerate weak soldiers in a battle? Wanting to enlist all young men in his army, Claudius, therefore, had decreed they could not marry. An independent man, St. Valentine defied Claudius and submitted to the desires of eager young lovers by conducting secret marriage ceremonies. You can see the thread of love running all the way back to the third century in Rome.  

I think you men have it much tougher than the martyred saint. All St. Valentine had to do was die, but you have to shop for a gift that you're fairly sure ahead of time won't please your love. I mean, after all, you've barely survived previous Valentine's Days. Remember when some of you purchased tickets to the Super Bowl game and gave them a bit early to your valentines? Each of you knew she would be ecstatic. Instead, she wept and told you she hated football. What about the year before that when you bought her a chain saw because of her affinity for working in the yard? That little gift almost caused a permanent cutoff. Then the year before that, you bought perfume only to discover she was allergic to its ingredients. Knowing your love, then, is important. Do you know her favorite color or candy? Do a bit of detective work and shop accordingly.

Also, stay away from hardware stores, appliance departments, sporting goods stores and gun shops. On second thought, she might want a gun in this strange age. Don't go near kitchen gadgets, no matter what she says. Giving flowers can be risky. One woman tells her husband each year that flowers are a waste of money because they die. Then she has a hissy fit when she doesn't get them. I'm a woman, and sometimes I don't even know what we women want. That's part of our mystique and part of your misery. There's not much to be done for it. 

If this special day leaves you little more than a trembling earthworm, take heart. You can make reservations for two at a quaint restaurant, but make sure it's not a sports bar where giant television screens track various games in progress. If the restaurant has no candlelight to enhance your beloved's beauty, back off. In other words, avoid fast-food joints. 

As for cards, shop early. If you wait until the last minute, you might have to purchase a card that says, "Happy Valentine's Day to Our Favorite Trash Collector." You don't want to be forced to scratch out "Trash Collector" and add your own words. That would be tacky. Be sure to write a sweet note on the card. Better still, forget the card and write a love letter. When my husband was in Puerto Rico and our son and daughter were still younger than 6, he wrote his first love letter to me. 

Here it is: 

"Dear Mrs. Withrow, I hope this letter finds you in good health. I look forward to seeing you when I get home in about a month. Sincerely yours, Howard W. Withrow." 

If you can't think of something to write in your love letter, you're free to plagiarize my husband's. He would be honored.

If you hate to write, you could buy a teddy, but that would be more for you than for her, wouldn't it? I didn't know what a teddy was until I had already reached the evening of my life. Drats. Of course, if your sweetie doesn't have Barbie doll's figure, you might want to steer clear of lingerie. She wouldn't wear it even in the dark. Also, avoid gift certificates and money. Either might make your love feel like, well, a lady of the night. 

Look at it this way. Things could be a lot worse. What if you had to buy a gift for West Virginia's favorite valentine, Martha Stewart, who, after her stay in a West Virginia prison, has probably learned how to say "poke" and "portabella mushroom" in the same sentence? Good luck, guys.