Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Time for a shot from Cupid

Okay, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and guys, you know what that means. Either the pressure is on big time, or you are single.

For you married guys, here’s a quick guide to let you know how much trouble you are in. Does your wife frequently point out mathematical facts that appear on the surface to be patently obvious? For example, does she say things like, “There are two people in this marriage” or “This child has two parents!” Well, that’s a bad sign. What she is saying, in essence, is that she doesn’t think that you are bright enough to count to two, and that’s not very bright.

But there is hope. Valentine’s Day was invented so that guys could play catch up. Come up with the right gift or gifts or dinner reservation and your slate is wiped clean, you get to pass Go and collect $200, you get out of jail free.

So what’s the right thing to do? That’s the hard part. There may be no right thing. No matter what you do, it may be wrong. In other words, you may be one of the unlucky ones for whom Valentine’s Day is just like any other day. Not to put too fine a point on it, I actually once overheard a female co-worker tell a female friend the following (this actually a verbatim transcript of her exact words):

“The first year we were married, I was furious with him because he forgot my birthday. So the next year, I dropped some hints so he wouldn’t forget. But then I got angry with him because he bought me the wrong gift. So the next year, I not only dropped gentle reminders it was my birthday but I also dropped hints about what I wanted. When he bought me what I wanted, I was still furious with him because he hadn’t thought to buy it all by himself.”

You see? You can’t win. So why try? Because sometimes you get it right, and then the rewards are incalculable. Like any difficult prize, it is worth going for, even if you fail.

So what’s the right gift? Well, since this is a movie column, allow me to suggest buying your lady a package of her favorite romantic movies. A very good idea, if I do say so myself. Just one problem. You actually have to have some sort of inkling of just what her favorite romantic movies are. Bummer.

Whatever you do, do not fall into the trap of selecting your own favorite romantic movies. This is a recipe for disaster. The way this is done is to figure out what her favorite romantic movies are, buy them for her, and tell her that they are your favorite romantic movies too.

Why is picking your romantic favorites a bad idea? Well, because you’re a guy. When you think of your favorite sentimental moment in movie, you’re liable to think back fondly, say, to the scene in Armageddon where Will Patton is about to fly into space with Bruce Willis to blow up an asteroid, but before he goes on a mission that is almost certain death he violates a court order to go to his ex-wife’s house to stay good-by to his little boy and gets dragged away by the police. (I’m going a bit weepy just typing the words.) Now, while you and I may think this makes Armageddon a great movie about feelings, your Significant Other probably won’t think so. I’d explain why, but it would take too long.

So the message is: don’t use your own judgment. Just go out and buy something with Robert Redford or Tom Hanks in it. I once actually scored major points by buying a romantic video three-pack that included The Way We Were, Sleepless in Seattle and Strictly Ballroom. (Strictly Ballroom?) Why does this work? Don’t bother your pretty little head trying to figure it out. Just do it.

-S.L., 8 February 2001

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