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 Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We are informed by J.H. Hull that the reason the street sprinkler was not at work yesterday settling the dust on the streets, was because one of his horses was injured.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.




(More History)