For Valentine's Day, my boyfriend gave me a card that read, "The world needs more people like you… people who reach out and care about others… people you can count on to the the good, right, and kind thing… I'm so glad someone like you is in the world." Lovely sentiments, but they were drafted by Hallmark's copywriters. My boyfriend simply added, "This card sums it up perfectly…" along with the obligatory "Happy Valentine's Day! I love you!"
Granted, he has said (in his own words) in the past that he admires my compassion, ethics and the fact that I regularly do volunteer work, but I can't help but feel disappointed that he used an impersonal, mass-produced card to express these feelings when I was hoping for something a little more special. Is that okay?
Since your boyfriend didn't take the time to compose a St. Valentine's ode to you, I will write the one he should have written:
Your compassion is legend,
Your volunteer work makes me weep,
You are my private nightmare,
And I'm so glad I'm asleep.
Twenty minutes in the Hallmark store,
Paper cuts on sweaty palms,
Bypass the "Shoebox," the 99-cents-ers
For I know you'll have no qualms
About telling me my choice is bad,
Is mass-produced, is trite.
I'd put down my praise in blood, my dear
But slit wrists make it hard to write.
Card after card, I imagine
The fits they might make you pitch:
"You know I hate Garfield," "This music is tinny"
My friends told me that you were a…not a nice person
At last, my lass, I have found it:
Sweet sentiments; elegant design;
It conjures you just as you tell me you are,
My righteous (-ly cruel) Valentine.
"The world needs more people like you," it reads
To say when what we've done is not right.
You are my angel, my beautiful flower
Lucifer, my aconite.
I thank Hallmark for putting to cardstock
What my trampled-down soul could not;
Last year when I composed an original poem
You asked "That's the best that you've got?"
Underneath the print, I write "I LOVE YOU,"
It's mandatory (you've made me see)
Maybe next year I'll plagiarize a whole card by hand
Where's the sonnet you've written for me?
Thatz not okay.
Just before we broke up, I bought my ex a gift certificate for a facial. It was more than I'd normally spend for a present, but not hugely extravagant. She likes facials, it's a really nice spa, no big deal. That was about two weeks before the breakup, which was awful and definitely not amicable, although we're back on speaking terms now.
Anyway, while I was buying another deal last month, I noticed that she hadn't redeemed hers, so I made the certificate into a PDF and sent it to her with a reminder that it would expire on February 9. She thanked me, but somehow I knew she wouldn't redeem it. She didn't.
My response is to accept that it was a gift and she was free to use or not use it, but should I have handled this differently? Technically I bought one for myself too (and used it) so I couldn't have redeemed this one, but should I have tried to negotiate? Gifted it to someone else (which would have been okay in terms of their rules)? I just can't fathom her behavior. Throwing away a $200 service, when all she had to do was walk to the spa (it's in her neighborhood) – is that okay?
Could it be that a contributing factor to your break-up was your tendency to fixate on stupid things you can't change?
Once you break up with a person, you no longer have any say over how they spend their time, with whom they have sex, or whether or not they use their spa gift certificates.
Apart from not working yourself into a lather by obsessively checking up on a gift you had already sent out into the universe, I'm not sure how you could have "handled this differently." By not giving her the gift in the first place? By requiring her to sign a Terms & Conditions agreement ("In the event Recipient does not make use of gift to Donor's satisfaction within thirty (30) days of receipt, Recipient relinquishes all ownership of gift, at which point ownership of gift reverts back to Donor")? By leading a letter writing campaign to overturn the spa's draconian gift certificate expiration policies?
You gave a woman you were dating a gift, not a homework assignment.
Let's say you gave a couple an ice cream maker for a wedding present; would you visit their home every day to make sure they were using it?
"Not sure if you guys are aware, but that ice cream maker did cost $100, so you should consider using it."
"Hey, I noticed when I was here this morning the ice cream maker I bought you was still in its box. Eight hours later, nothing's changed. Feel free to use."
"Guys, I saw your spare key was missing from under the mat, so I replaced it with an extra I keep in my car (don't worry—I have hundreds of copies). I thought maybe the reason you haven't opened that ice cream maker I bought you is because you were worried about losing the instructions, so I printed them out from the website and also emailed you a PDF of the instruction booklet, subject line: 'INSTRUCTIONS FOR ICE CREAM MAKER THAT I GAVE YOU.'"
Maybe your ex is still sour from the break up and didn't think she'd be able to enjoy a gift you gave her (and didn't realize you'd be obsessively monitoring her gift enjoyment progress). Maybe she knows you can be anal about these things and letting the gift certificate expire was a final "Fuck you!" Maybe she didn't have time to go to the damn spa.
In any case, what she did with the gift was her business. You got all the credit you were ever going to receive from that gift when you gave it to her and she said "Thank you!"
Also, judging from some of the language you use ("buying another deal," "$200 service," "spa"), it sounds like maybe the gift was a Groupon spa certificate billed as a "$200 value" for which you paid around $40.
You can't ever fight about a Groupon.
You can't EVER fight about a Groupon.