This week's blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter, Viva, who sees Easter and Halloween as much higher yielding candy-oriented holidays than dumb old Valentine's Day.
By now you've probably noticed that it is Valentine's Day. Like, currently. What kind of partially-apocryphal-definitely-in-cahoots-with-Hallmark third century saint puts his feast day on a Tuesday, anyhow? How could you have possibly remembered it was today? Totally unrealistic. Ben Franklin and Stephen Covey themselves would have left it out of their planners. Therefore, it's only natural that you've forgotten to get a gift for your spouse. But it's early yet, and maybe they're thinking you just didn't give them anything in the morning because it would have been lost in the madness of getting the kids off to school while the two of you get ready for work. Sure, that's it! Well, you've got a few hours left to go buy some jewelry, or book a fancy dinner, or a surprise vacation, or have some flowers delivered …
What's that? You just dropped thousands on summer camps for the kids--freestyle rapping camp or Lecoq clowning camp or human genome mapping camp or whatever the kids are into these days? And you just replaced the leaking ice crusher on the fridge and the broken on-board vacuum in the Pacifica and bought the girls new Irish dancing wigs? Oh, and at some point this winter you got sick and went to the doctor?!! There goes the romance budget!
Don't worry, I've been where you are. I've forgotten to set a reminder alarm for Feb. 13 that says, “Try to remember what makes your wife happy.” I've blown all the date night money on antibiotics and Irish dancing wigs. I sympathize. And that's how I was able to come up with five affordable, simple gifts that will have your Valentine saying, “Be Mine” and “LOL” quicker than a box of chalky candy hearts.
A coupon book
You can make this with paper and staples you steal from your employer, and have it all ready before you leave work. It's just like the kind you made you Mom when you were a kid with coupons that read “Good For a Free Hug” or “I Will Make My Bed.”. The grown-up version can contain inexpensive but valuable acts your partner will enjoy, such as: “I will not complain about the sociopath at my work for an entire night.” Or “I will get through dinner without checking my Twitter and then screaming about Betsy DeVos.” Also, “I will not attend the school production of 'Godspell' smelling like Bulleit and broken dreams.” Who wouldn't love to cash those in?
Promises of intimacy
Ah, intimacy. Before the kids came along this would have meant whispering promises of harrowing carnal acts found in Sanskrit texts or online dictionaries with daunting names like “Dippin' Dots,” “The Oroville Spillway” and the “Moscow Kompromat,” none of which should be attempted without first laying down a dropcloth.
Now, a bold sensual act could be as straightforward as “maintaining 30 seconds of eye contact without a profound ruefulness bubbling up from your soul,” assuming you're up to the task.
Everybody loves pizza. Everybody loves cardioid ideographs. Why not combine the two? Local favorite Lou Malnati's has a 9” heart-shaped Chicago-style pizza and a matching cookie in their online store for $56.99 that you can ship anywhere. If you want to spend a lot less and also you hate pizza, Pizza Hut has a similar deal for $12.99. Or, as I did in the picture, you can grab a Red Baron for $3.99 and a pair of scissors and make one yourself. Now it's artisanal and you saved $53 dollars.
Completion of a long delayed task
There are probably half-finished or barely begun projects all around the house that you could surprise and impress your loved one by completing. Maybe it's relocating the racoon that's been living in your dumbwaiter, repairing the bannister knob that keeps coming off in your hand or moving the bodies from the old cemetery under your swimming pool. I mean, you already moved the headstones, why not finish the job?
There's nothing a parent cherishes more than time away from their family. Why not show your soulmate you care by taking the kids and getting far enough from her that she can stop feeling that crushing feeling on her chest for a few hours? Take the children to the library. Take them to the park. Take them into the garage and just play with your iPads for an hour on the house's WiFi. Or let your partner get away instead. Perhaps she can hide out in a coffee shop, a cozy bookstore or just huddle under a viaduct where she can go a few minutes without providing anyone with an apple squeezy or help on the potty.
Valentine's day doesn't need to be expensive, and it doesn't need to be planned in advance. The important thing is that you care enough to get the hell away from your spouse, or at least to take scissors to a pizza.
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Matt fathers 5-year-old Viva, Chicago's favorite pint-sized diva, and is the author of "Viva Daddy!" - a monthly column in Chicago Parent Magazine.
See more of Matt's stories here.
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