Did you get a gift? Did you buy one for someone else? No? Still want to? There's time.
And to make your task easier, I have gone out and checked the three most popular places to get that last-minute gift that says "I didn't think of this until the last minute, but hey - it's still a gift".
(Yeah, that statement always gets me hot, too.)
I went about this assignment with the verve and zeal of a man who's just remembered it's Valentine's Day tomorrow, i.e., I hit some stores on my way home from work. First stop: CVS.
Now, I knew CVS had possibilities, because that morning I had read the paper, and there was a full page ad that said "Stay out of the Doghouse. CVS... one easy stop for Valentine's Day Gifts." How could I resist? I didn't want to be in the doghouse, no sir.
Well, I may still be in trouble. They had but the one measly aisle of V-day gifts, and most of it was chocolate. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. So generic in its appearance, that I truly think that you'd be better off buying the regular candy - who doesn't love a King-sized Snicker's bar? And really, so much better for you than those chocolate covered cherries - much less in the way of red dye #2.
(Oh, yeah. My ex. He was crazy for them. I think that says all you need to know about him. :P)
They had the requisite number of stuffed things, supposed to make the woman of your dreams go all girly and misty-eyed. Some of them even said things when you squeezed them. But not rational things like "Ouch! Stop squeezing me!", but vaguely icky things like "I've got the hots for you!", conjuring up visions of an army of crazed plush toy stalkers, creeping up the bed in the dead of night, wanting some serious loving.
However, this was not the most disturbing thing in the store (okay, the clientele was the MOST disturbing, but bear with me here). Why buy your love some real roses that will die in a couple of days, when you can demonstrate how eternal your love is by buying her a silk rose that has a half-life of approximately five thousand years? I know, I know, but bear with me, this one is *really* special. It sings.
I don't know what it sings. I couldn't identify the song after ten seconds, and I really wasn't willing to listen to it any longer than that. Even in the service of hard-hitting journalism, I have my limits. Suffice to say that this... thing... would be a Valentine's day gift she'd remember for a long, LONG time. Even after therapy.
CVS: Worst gift - singing rose. Best gift - duct tape, batteries, and first aid supplies.
From there I went over the street to the Giant grocery store, mostly to pick up bread and snacks (if I'm going to die in a terrorist attack, I don't want big jugs of water, I want Pringle's Cheez-ums). It was an eye-opening experience.
The first thing you see as you walk in the door is the enormous shrine to pastel pink pastry products. The first thing to hit your nose is the aroma of those products wrestling mightily with the heavy scent of the thousand potted plants on display immediately behind them.
This is really not a good smell.
Leaving aside the whole insanity behind centering a holiday around gifts of major carbohydrate proportions combined with gifts of skimpy lingerie, I want to know how many pastel pink things the bakery department managed to make before going mad. I felt my sanity teetering on the brink just contemplating the enormous pile of sugary pink.
I certainly didn't feel like buying any of it.
And those flowers are expensive.
Venturing further into the store, I took notes on what I found:
Oh, my God! They have Valentine Barbie, and she's at the grocery store! What a great way to get little girls hooked on domesticity! First, encourage her to regard V-day as something really special, then position Barbie so that you see her surrounded by all the icons of American homemaking!
Next get your little darling an apron and an E-Z Bake oven, and presto! Your little snoogums will never have to worry about getting a man!
(Unlike Barbie, who is forced to throw herself into a desperate career search after discovering Ken in bed with G.I. Joe, shattering all her illusions of a happy, albeit sexually unsatisfying, union.)
(It's true, I swear. I heard it from the Hello Kitty toys in Target.)
Oh, man, who buys TIES at the grocery store? They were losing their shape as they hung there. I pity the man that gets that present.
Actually, I was having a hard time finding any of the normal things on my list, as most of the usual grocery items were completely hidden behind a wall of mylar balloons and bouquets of cut flowers. This store is the Jeffrey Dahmer of the plant world - there are beheaded flowers everywhere.
...I wonder if sushi counts as a V-day gift. It's pink, it tastes good, and it's better for you than candy.
*sigh* I had to escape. It was so crowded in there I couldn't stand it. Apparently, the imminent end of the world has not stopped everyone from doing their weekly shopping. It was really getting unbearable in there, so I gave the candy and promotional aisle only the briefest of glances. The same heart-shaped boxes of chocolates stared back at me from all sides. I felt like I was in a Valentine funhouse, except instead of mirrors, I was reflected back a thousandfold by shiny red mylar boxes.
Feeling like you're in a Fellini film at the grocery store is not conducive to massive Valentine spending.
Giant: Worst gift - "love coupons"; pieces of paper you give out, granting each other such basic human courtesies as "you get the remote ALL EVENING", tied with the resin heart-shaped photo frame decorated with bears called "The Unique Collection". God, I hope there's only one of them. Best gift - Haagen Daz 'Bananas Foster' ice cream and Krispy Kreme raspberry filled glazed doughnuts. Hey, it's a food store.
My last stop of the day was (and here's where you get to appreciate how much I sacrificed for you, my loyal readers): Wal-Mart.
Yes, I descended into the pits of hell that is Wally World, and braved crazed zombie greeters shoving carts at me, mouth-breathing shoppers that filled the entire aisle with their butts, and people shopping with carts so full of children they had to drag another cart along for their purchases.
(Maybe they were buying the kids THERE, I don't know. I couldn't find the shelf the kids were stocked on, even though I looked all over the department called "Children".)
Actually, the pickings here were pretty slim. Obviously Wal-Mart customers plan their V-Day purchases well ahead, for half the shelves were empty. There was a whole aisle of lip-shaped things which everyone had very sensibly left alone (what does getting a lip-shaped plastic box say about your relationship, anyway? "Hey, honey, I got the money for your collagen injections!").
I particularly liked the LOTR Valentines. I was hoping for a Gollum one, but no joy. There was an Ent one with the legend "I'll be there for you on Valentine's Day!". Brrr. That's a pretty creepy thought.
But, again with the acres of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates! It's like a butcher's shop, and the special is heart, with a side of lips. Yum!
Wal-Mart: Best gift - The chocolate rose in a box with heart-shaped truffles. Make your heart go pitter-pat with sugar overload. Worst gift (and possibly worst gift EVER, edging out the singing rose by a narrow margin) - the pink t-shirt hung up in the Valentine display that said "I love boy trouble".
Well, on Valentine's Day, you're going to get your wish, baby.
Especially if your man does his Valentine's Day shopping on the way home from work today.
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.