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Just for You, Sweetie
Turn the Page!
Personalized gift ideas for valentines of all types

by Metroland Staff
Illustrations by Jo Rivers


True Wuv

You may not need a saint to get your love on, but what an excuse for boundless affection! Start early. Give your sweet a daily little valentine bearing a special message and maybe a tiny gift, such as a preferred flower or a coupon for a double bubble bath. Your finale should revisit an early element of your relationship, like the restaurant of your second date. All activities should conclude with a root-beer float with two straws, eyes locked in infatuation.

Married (Newlywed)

Chances are, the two of you are still in the starry-eyed phase of your (hopefully) long life together, so almost any reasonably romantic/thoughtful gift will make her happy, including Valentine’s Day standards like flowers, candy, wine, lingerie and the like. But if you really want to impress your spouse and show her she made a good choice, give her something created by you specifically with her tastes in mind: a favorite dinner, a mixed tape of songs you’ve enjoyed together, a day trip including visits to favorite museums, stores, outdoor spots, etc., culminating in dinner at that special restaurant you’ve always talked about trying. Extra credit: Give her something that shows you’re in it for the long haul; say, savings bonds dedicated your future children’s education.

Married (Newlywed: Britney Division)

Got hitched a little, shall we say, impulsively? Then skip the over-the-top romantic stuff, since this probably is your last Valentine’s Day together anyway. Give him something to make sure you’re forever etched in his memory. Right now, your relationship is about little else besides drinking too much champagne and having impossibly wild sex—and years later, a photographic (or videographic) memento might just bring a smile to his face. Then again, if the idea of recording your carnal escapades gives you the creeps—or if you don’t want your next husband to come across it on the Internet someday—then consider giving your soon-to-be-set-free mate the ultimate forget-me-not gift: a tattoo.

Married (Old Ball and Chain)

Skip the lingerie, the candy, the flowers (flowers are always nice, but she’ll appreciate your budgetary wisdom if you wait till the post-Valentine’s price reduction). And those sex-life-rejuvenating drugs and assorted other gizmos aimed squarely at your demographic: Trust us, she’s not interested. Have you been listening to what she really wants? C’mon buddy, she tells you every day! SHE WANTS A CLEAN HOUSE! So buy her the biggest, baddest vacuum cleaner you can find—with attachments for every hard-to-reach-the-dirt situation imaginable—and watch her face light up like an expectant bride. Better yet, skip the vacuum cleaner and just pay someone to clean the house. Once a week. Now that just might make you seem sexy again.

Marriage of Convenience

It was once believed that birds began to pair by mid-February, perhaps an informative glimpse at the pressure behind this holiday and its romantic tradition for us humans. Like those birds coupling to perpetuate the species, your practical union calls for a gift of indubitable utility—and nothing says codependence like a new backpack or an auto emergency kit.

Will and Grace

Because this is a pairing that probably precludes romantic love, yours is a deeply platonic one. Since the pressure to impress is off, you should enjoy it: Drink champagne, eat loudly and sloppily, dance, and laugh at the humdrum plans your committed friends have. Buy exorbitantly expensive chocolates (or treat of choice) and feed them to each other.

Hopeful Crush

You’re excited! This Valentine’s Day, it looks like you may actually have a valentine! For once, you have your sights on someone who may just be willing to return your amorous feelings. So, since nothin’ says lovin’ like putting in some serious contemplating time to decide what you’re going to give your crush for this holiday, think about it, for chrissake. Don’t just go out and buy the typical flowers or chocolate, the lingerie or sappy cards. Make your crush dinner, a mixed CD, or—if you want to be more suggestive—buy some satin sheets. Put some effort into your gift-giving this holiday, so you can be as pleased to give it as your crush is to receive it.

Hopeless Crush

OK, we understand, you’re in the state of mind where you think it actually may be possible to attract the cute sweatband-wearing gal you see every morning on the treadmill at the gym. Before you come to your senses and realize that it’s likely she’ll never go for the likes of you, and that she probably already has a boyfriend who could very likely beat you to a pulp if he sees you ogling her for too long (oh, and by the way, he’s watching you from the weight bench where he’s pressing, well, a lot), you consider what to present her with as a please-be-my-valentine. Well, buddy, number one, don’t get your hopes up. She’s not gonna go for it. But if you’re still willing to try, we recommend something used—maybe even used by you, so it doesn’t look like you put too much effort into mulling over a gift for her. How about your favorite T-shirt with the cute saying on it that she vocally admired the other day? Oh, one more thing: If you notice her boyfriend coming up behind her when you give her your thoughtful present, run.

Office Crush

You know he’s noticed you, because he purposefully bumps into you in the hallway or lets you cut in line at the water cooler. You tend to lock eyes with him just a little longer than is necessary. You haven’t really talked too much, but you can’t help but feel that he may be the One! Even if you’re not sure that getting him a Valentine’s Day gift is appropriate, you decide to anyway. A fun, not-too-forward gift we like is Magnetic Poetry, the Romance Edition. This amusing gift is suitable to keep at work (so it’s not overly personal), and it might clue him in to what Valentine’s Day treat you’d like to get from him: a date.

Dumb Crush

We’ve all had them. The inexplicable, lustful, nonsensical crush on the dim-witted bimbo or self-centered meathead whom you would never, ever have a relationship with. It’s fun for a while, but don’t get your heart set on wooing them. They’ll either forget about you or become attached like superpowered magnets, or worse, leeches (worse, of course, because they try to suck the blood out of you). So don’t try to explain this bizarre attraction to the dummy-you’d-never-date-in-real-life, just have fun with it before you tire of it. We suggest that for these crush anomalies, you get something shiny to hold their attention. Maybe a big bag of chocolate kisses to quell her sweet tooth—they are wrapped in foil, after all. Or a gleaming chrome hood ornament to adorn his already shimmering egomobile. And our personal advice to you: Snap out of it now before you permanently lower your standards.

Happy Alone

For the gift to your incredible self, we’re not going to suggest the clichéd trip to the spa, the massage, the new hairdo usually suggested to make you feel better about yourself, since you feel so losery about not having a significant other to share the special day with. Because, guess what! You don’t feel losery, and you’re happy by yourself. You don’t buy into all that Valentine’s Day bullshit anyway. What we suggest is to savor a night alone with a bottle of cabernet, a plate of Town House crackers and cheese, and a good new book. Good picks just released this week include The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory, The Last Juror by John Grisham and PS, I Love You by Ceceilia Ahem. Read and relax, and good for you on being wonderful and happy by your damn self.

Revolving-Door Relationship

One week you’re in love; the next, you’re in the doghouse. It’s an on-again, off-again, on-again (for a day or two) kind of thing for you, oh, king/queen of the emotional merry-go-round. So why not butter him/her up with one of the oh-so-cute “Bad Ass Bitchy Bears” available at www.wonderfullywacky.com. You’ll be sleeping on the couch again once the little devil starts talking, but won’t it be worth it for those few moments of bliss?

Fear of Commitment

So you can’t make up your mind, eh? You’re definitely in “like,” but you’re not sure you want to tie yourself down to anything “serious” or “long-term” right now. That’s OK, we totally understand where you’re coming from. That’s why we recommend you give the one you love—er, like—a gift certificate from the Spectrum 8 Theaters. A date to the movies is pretty noncommittal—hell, you don’t even need to carry on a conversation—and if you’re really not sure about continuing things, you can always include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Explosive Relationship

A few broken lamps, gouged couches and torn chairs. A carpet with burn marks, frayed nerves and pulled hair. Are these a few of your favorite things? Probably not, but when the conversation heats up between the two of you, the fur starts to fly. It’s unavoidable. But you’re communicating, and that’s a good thing. How about investing in an après-battle first-aid kit? A tube of Krazy® Glue, some carpet shampoo, and a gift certificate to Pier 1 Imports to replace the wrecked living-room furniture ought to do the trick. And don’t forget a few extra throw pillows to make the inevitable make-up sex more comfortable.

Living in sin—and loving it

As long as they thought you had separate bedrooms and were considering marriage the ’rents were OK with it. But it’s becoming more and more clear that you have no intention of disrupting your unwedded bliss any time soon. You have separate bank accounts but one CD collection, separate tax returns but one big ol’ bed. You’ve adopted the word “partner” from your gay friends, and taken a lot of teasing from your single ones. This V-Day is time to glory in what you’ve got. Suggested gifts: a nonengagement ring, to mean whatever you want it to mean; Unmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together as an Unmarried Couple, by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller; a weekend at a cute B&B where everyone will assume you’re married but it will be none of their business.

Living in sin—practicing Catholic

It’s cheaper this way. . . . That’s really my room, though I never sleep there. . . . It’s just temporary. Let’s face it guys, you’re shacking up. It’s really not so bad, is it? In fact you seem pretty chipper about it most days. Suggested gifts: caller ID, so you can compose yourself before talking to each other’s parents; something for the kitchen (lemon zester? soup pot?) that will belong—gasp!—to both of you; an old-style date in which one of you gets ready at friend’s house, picks up a bouquet of flowers, and then waits patiently for the other outside the door of your shared abode.

Swingers

Having a hobby you share can strengthen a relationship. Your hobby is more, um, social than most, but if you’re both game, it just might give your Valentine’s Day a zing that even the self-absorbed newlyweds would envy. Suggested gifts: on-the-go condom packages designed for car, purse, and briefcase; The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt; a promise to try to talk your hot best friend’s spouse into one experimental night.

Living in sin—later in life

Free of angst (mostly) and hotter than your grown kids could ever imagine, this relationship was worth waiting for. But in the meantime, you’ve each acquired a couple decades worth of redundant stuff that makes your love nest a little crowded. Suggested gifts: anything that won’t take up space—theater tickets, gift certificates for a massage, a promise to look at all your partner’s old photos before bundling them off to a rented storage facility.

Ex—the One Who Got Away

Mistakes? We’ve made a few. Look, we admit it: We haven’t always been the honey-do-you-want-backrub-or-just-an-hour-of Tantric-sex-focused-solely-on-your-needs kinds of romantic partners you would assume us to be today. Yes, we are the left-leaning alternative and as such far better, more passionate and sensitive lovers than you’ll find at other more centrist publications (we have conclusive scientific data); but we’ve had some rough patches just like normal humans. And, from time to time, we still flip through our photo albums, ruefully thinking, “What was I smoking to let this one go?” You’ve probably been in the same boat, and so you know it’s impossible to gift wrap a richly deserved apology. Instead we suggest a whole stack of self-help books—The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Feeling Good Feels Better, Getting to Yes, hell, try The Tao According to Pooh—and a highlighter. A well-used highlighter. The books aren’t for your former flame, dummy. Read ’em, read ’em closely. Take notes. Then present ’em to your ex as evidence that you’ve acknowledged and addressed your faults. It may not win back the relationship you blew, but it greatly increases the chances that you won’t screw up the next one. And won’t that make your ex crazy?

Ex—the One Who Won’t Go Away

There is no adhesive so infuriatingly durable as that of romantic obsession, and—unless you’re inhumanly cruel—it really is more painful to be the unrequiting party than to be the one shunned. So how, as a good and kind person, do you acknowledge another’s devotion to you when you’d just as soon be left alone with Green Acres reruns? Match.com, my friend. Or any one—or more—of the other 6 million online dating services. Buy your presumptive paramour a membership and offer your enthusiastic copywriting advice and expertise. Spring for studio-quality photos, audio clips, streaming video—whatever’s necessary. In the long run, it’s more than worth the expense. Sell, sell, sell! Then you’ll be free to get back to your first love, digital cable.

Ex—the One You’d Introduce to Your Current Partner

This is a tricky one. Of course, if you run into your old mate with any frequency, it’s a lot easier if you don’t have hustle your current flame into the coat closet until the danger passes; but, on the other hand, a warm-and-fuzzy relationship between past and present has its threats as well. Your ex is your ex for a reason, we assume. You don’t want these two sharing drinks, and bonding over just what a raging shrew/inconsiderate boor you are. If you’re going to make this introduction, you’re obliged to keep the ex happier than you did in the first place. We suggest something addictive—and you should already have some insight on their weaknesses. If it’s caramel corn, spread it around your pad like potpourri; if they had some insatiable yen for your mother’s Hungarian goulash, provide it by the bucket. You detect some souring of your new sweety, and the supply is cut. The first dose is free, then they’ve got to work for it.

Ex—the One You’d Never Introduce to Your Current Partner

First of all, you do know that you’re fooling yourself, right? This can’t possibly work. But if you’re going to buy a Valentine’s Day gift for an ex whom you’re hiding in some way from your present playmate, then go whole hog: Admit to yourself that, though you couldn’t stand anything about that person’s personality, his/her very noxiousness was and still is an inexplicably powerful turn-on; buy a steamer trunk full of sex toys, a week in a hotel room with reinforced headboards and thick walls, and a video camera; spend that week in a Zeppelin circa ’73 hedonistic haze, and guard that videotape with your life. It will likely be your only companion in the very near future.

The Online Romance

Don’t buy anything. Just write a convincing description of what you would buy them if you were to have a real-live face-to-face relationship—which, of course, you have no intention of doing. Then get back to describing how the wool sweater of your cheerleader’s outfit sure is itchy in this stuffy basement rec room. Do you mind if I take it off?


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