Wednesday nights for the past few months have meant pumping out a fresh blog post for my beloved readers. Now Wednesdays mean so much more because the new season of The Bachelor has begun! Such quality reality TV (an oxymoron??) where we get to watch yet another tall, ripped, handsome man choose from a fresh crop of emotionally unstable women dressed in high heels and sequins. Essentially, Bachie Wood (as he is dubbed by reviewer Rosie Waterland over at Mamamia) gets to know his 19 girlfriends, plan dates and then eliminate a couple of unlucky spinsters by NOT giving them a red rose at the end of each episode. Relax on a comfy couch, add a bottle of chardonnay and a quick witted viewing companion and it’s pretty much the perfect evening.
What I notice is the Bachelor doesn’t really need to have a mind of his own. There are no doubt stylists, event planners and producers behind the scenes telling him what to do. Last week an earpiece was actually visible in Bachie’s ear as he called out the names of the lucky ladies who would be receiving roses. All he has to do is smile, regularly pose with his shirt off looking pensive in various remote locations and dole out the roses as directed. If he follows the rules, he is guaranteed a lady-love to walk off into the sunset with for at least 6 weeks of relationship bliss. Easy peasy!
But what happens to Bachie after the finale?? What guidance is available to him then, or any man already in a relationship? Who is there to help them navigate through the minefields of married life, specifically special occasions, conversation, customs and generally keeping wifey happy? No one. They have to rely on their own gut. Maybe there is a market for a new TV show – ‘The Married Man’, with coaching available from a slew of experts? Sometimes guidance is required.
Example number 1 is our recent wedding anniversary. George and I just celebrated 12 years of marriage. Sometimes we do gifts on our anniversary, sometimes not. This year we’d agreed on no gifts. On the morning of our anniversary, I handed George a card, with a heartfelt hand-written message that filled both sides. He thanked me and said sheepishly “I didn’t get you a card.”
“That’s OK honey.” I said very graciously. “There’s still today…”
I was going out that morning. When I returned a few hours later, the house was spick and span and there was a huge bunch of flowers in a vase on the table. A guilt cleaning had taken place. Grovelling flowers had been purchased. I assume he had felt the need to buy me flowers because I had given him a card, not that I expected it. But he is a kind husband who would never deliberately disappoint me.
The same day we had a male lunch visitor over who was eager to give commentary on the situation and support his own. He told me that I had broken the sacred no-gift covenant by buying George a card and thus upset the equilibrium, forcing George to one-up me and go out and buy flowers. I am of the firm belief that a card is NOT a gift. But on the other hand, in some cases flowers are not a gift either. Let me explain my theory, which brings us to example number 2.
A young newly married male friend recently told me he planned to buy his wife flowers for her birthday and take her out for dinner. “And what are you getting her for a gift?” I queried. “I have to get her a gift too?!?!” he exclaimed, clearly bewildered. I was forced to explain to him that on a woman’s birthday, flowers are a garnish, not a gift. He didn’t understand. But at least in his ignorance he showed the presence of mind to follow my advice and did, in fact, purchase a gift for his wife.
My anniversary flowers, gift or not, opened up a dialogue which has highlighted a 12 year misconception, leading us to example number 3. The flowers given to me were a ‘mixed bunch’. Not to look gift horse in the mouth, but the ‘mixed bunch’ is the best friend of the florally confused man. They are a way for indecisive males to hedge their blooming bets. I told George, somewhat truthfully, that I liked them and he replied “Oh, good. I wasn’t sure as they have roses in them and I know you don’t like roses.”
Me “Huh? I like roses.”
George repeated “No, you don’t like roses.”
Me ‘Umm, yes I do.”
George very confidently confirmed “No. No you don’t. You told me once you don’t like them so I never buy them.”
He was so adamant that I began to wonder if he was right, that I don’t actually like roses. Perhaps I had mentioned it casually years ago and he’d noted it, in an effort to please me. Whatever the truth, the reason for the dozen or so years of abstinence from roses was unveiled. Men: annual flower preference audits could have averted this confusion.
So I think it’s clear that all married men can use a little help from time to time, even those with the best intentions. If only there were a means by which men could seek wise counsel. A TV show, a guidebook, or even a sensible female relation? I will continue to ponder this over The Bachelor, essentially just another confused fellow doling out roses left, right and centre…but doing it gracefully with perfect hair, a six-pack and an earpiece.