Cut your Valentine some slack


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Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013, 1:01 pm
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By Terry Marotta
Everywhere you went this last week you saw them: desperate guys hoping to stay out of trouble with their ladies.

I think of the one I saw a year ago at the supermarket checkout at 9 at night, clutching a bouquet of flowers so wilted it seemed like week-old romaine. We both looked down at it when he placed it on the belt.

"Hey it's the thought that counts!" he said defensively.

My own man is never defensive when he presents such gifts. He felt GOOD about the can of WD-40 he gave me one year. Ditto the jumper cables I got the next year.

When our kids were little, what I did was to make a huge deal of Valentine's Day, with food coloring even. (Pink milk! Mashed potatoes the color of Strawberry Shortcake's petticoats!)

What he did was bring us one small square box of fudge.

One year anyway. Oh and one year he bought me a card, though he didn't bother signing it.

It must have been the following year that I got some marriage revenge by washing his underpants with my dark-red sweater.

I had less understanding then.

And the world was very different.

I think of the old jokes male stand-up comics used to make, like "My wife: Can't live with her, can't live without her." And "My wife: She's so big that when she sits around the house she sits AROUND the house."

You don't hear those anymore.

Things shifted somewhere along the line and now nobody DARES make fun of women. Rather, we show how evolved we are by making fun of men.

All over the media men are now portrayed as louts or goofballs, or well-meaning doofuses, like the Phil Dunphy character on ABC's Modern Family.

Only that's not what men are like at all, at least not in my experience.

I say this because in my line of work I get to talk to a lot of strangers.

I also receive a lot of e-mails, a surprising amount of them from men.

One man wrote to say that when he moved to his new town and began reading my column in his local paper he thought of me as his first friend in the area. I found that an extremely sensitive and generous thing to say.

Another wrote to tell about a cat he drove past that morning as the poor thing lay by the side of the road, just as his neighbor sped going in the other direction.

This man stopped his car. He saw the blood. "I think my neighbor hit her without realizing it," he wrote in this email. "My first thought was to knock frantically on doors, but instead I called Animal Control because the cat was still alive.

"I hope I made the right decision," he added, "but I can't stop thinking about it."

And a third man wrote once to describe how kind and sensitive his young sons were when his best friend died.

"Joseph is having fun in Heaven,'" one told him. "Someday you'll make a new friend," said the other gently.

Men are louts and dopes and goofballs?

I don't think so.

Men are our partners in adulthood, our allies, who find themselves living in a culture that paradoxically still feels free to mock signs of tenderness in them.

So what do I care if my man doesn't "deliver" on this shamelessly commercial shakedown of a day? When for me, secretly, it's been enough to have a good set of jumper cables, and that fresh can of WD-40 when I need it.
Write Terry Marotta at terrymarotta@verizon.net or day or visit her for blog Exit Only, at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com.
















 



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  Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The Rock Island Paper Mill is now operating. It is an establishment which our people ought to encourage by saving all rags for the mill, where you can get cash and the highest prices for them.
1889 -- 125 years ago: E. W. Robinson purchased from J.T. Miller the livery stable on the triangle south of Market Square.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Henry Kramer was elected president of the Tri-City Typothetae Franklin Club, which took the place of the Tri-City Ben Franklin Club.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Floyd Furh, Illinois City, was first-place winner in the second annual Gov. Horner Farm floral contest.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Nearly 4,000 people are expected to attend weekend sessions of the Jehovah's Witnesses Assembly being held at the Masonic Temple.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The B-29 Super-Fortress bomber is impressive looking, and it did the job during World War II. Its claim to fame is dropping the atomic bombs in Japan to end the war. Only one B-29 is operational in the world today. It is on display at the Quad City Airport in Moline until Friday.






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