Straight men can be so impossible... Endearing, but impossible.
I just hung up the phone with one who was trying to surprise me with a present, and I should say right off the bat that A. I love presents, and B. that his gift-giving instincts and execution are (now) without parallel. I should also say, he didn't come that way out of a box for heaven's sake. I trained him. Painstakingly. (He's the one who tried to give me the ill-fated I'm-Sorry-MacBook for ruining a vacation a long time ago.) It took years for him to be allowed to give me high-end, overpriced electronics -- and that was only after he'd finally demonstrated that he knew the difference between "extravagant" and "thoughtful."
He's at the electronics store again today, trying to decide between pink, and pink, which meant a lot of futile text-exchanges like this one "which tone of pink?" (Only a straight man would think "pink" comes in "tones.") You know. Pank. Not pink, Pank. "Oh. OOOkkkkkk. Thanks." (Points for mastering SMS sarcasm.) I finally had to text over visual aids, and hope that the resolution on his iPhone is reasonably accurate. [The shoephone is the correct shade of pank (also known as "blush" or "bashful") and the phone booth is the wrong shade of pink. It's admittedly confusing, because I have a scarf that's the wrong pink that I wear all the time, just because it was a gift I loved. I was wearing it on New Year's Day at the DiscoKroger when I ran into a different Ex, and when I said I was surprised he'd spotted me from halfmile across the parking lot, he said, "are you kidding? I was blinded by the beacon of that scarf screamin' New Boyfriend."]
Our first Christmas together was spent in tears. And honestly, it was hard to see a big man cry like that.
By Valentines a month later, he had shaped up. The presents were silly-but-thoughtful. He knew the right flower, and the right color, and the right florist -- there is one in town you use if you're trying to be impressive, and another you use if you genuinely are impressive. He knew that it was better if they came to the office and not my house (although he brought along more for dinner). He knew -- as all foodies do -- that you do NOT eat out on Valentines Day or other major holidays (when you get the worst food and the worst service ever). So he took my list and did all the shopping at (what was then) Wild Oats -- which is definitely my least favorite part of the cooking process -- and then we had Naked Chef time (my most favorite part of the cooking process, but really: wear an apron if you're searing anything; there are definitely some places more than others where you don't want to risk a burn). This year especially, I would've died before I left the house Valentine Weekend mid-heartbreak, so he got me carryout from virtually every place we'd ever eaten, and picked up every menu item he'd ever remembered me liking. (Relax. There aren't that many. I prefer cooking to eating out.) And then he stood on-line patiently waiting for them which could not have been easy on Valentine Weekend. Of course, I wasn't even taking broth at the time, and of course, we all know it's not possible to eat a legitimate caprese salad out-of-season in February, but any man who works that hard to get you over another man is, at heart, a good guy.
Unfortunately, he does too, which I consider the height of rudeness on my part, because I got all likkered up on Ambien one night as we were on the way out the door to work late (relax: he was driving, not me) and I took the opportunity to educate him on the many nuances of pink he had yet to learn.("THIS" is the right pink. "THAT" is the wrong pink.) I still think it was a shockingly ungracious, ungrateful thing to say on my part -- because I am genuinely happy when anybody takes the time to pick out any kind of present for me -- but he seemed nonplussed, and if there's one thing I prize in a man above all else it's equanimity.
The DonutMule RingToss Classmate who was here a lot in the immediate aftermath of Storm2010 (they've apparently all gotten together and taken shifts) said he actually prefers getting a lot of direction, because it leaves him less room for error. He's a disciplined guy (a guy who runs marathons) in a very precise field and I could see that, but I honestly didn't remember ever giving him any. Unfortunately, here again, is someone who's spent a lot of time with me post-Ambien. And what he said, in response to that was "does the phrase: 'you're petting a butterfly! not sawing logs!' ring a bell?"
...And at first....it didn't.