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A woman's guide on what not to do for Valentine's

Talking about tires will make the date go flat in a hurry
helen toews new
Writer and humourist Helen Toews

Does age matter when it comes to affairs of the heart? Certainly not. This week a friend showed me recent pictures of her uncle and his new bride. He’s 82. He and his betrothed had been childhood sweethearts who reconnected after losing touch some 50 years earlier. Romantic right? Of course, all relationships don’t end as happily. So, for those fine men hoping to meet a special someone, I’ve compiled a handy guide, complete with real-life examples. You’re welcome.

Many rendezvous’ begin over a steaming beverage in the non-threatening atmosphere of a coffeehouse. But, what if the fellow you meet was like the guy I was introduced to? He spoke for two solid hours on one subject. Tires!

That’s not a date, it’s a monologue. It was restful, since I wasn’t required to participate beyond an occasional nod, but as general rule monologues are desperately dull, particularly ones concerning steel-belted rubber.

He debated the minimum tread depth required for winter driving; waxed eloquent over air pressure, and knowledgeably discussed road conditions, climate interference and the misuse of a manufactures warranty. Finally, at the conclusion of our visit, with misty eyes, he declared his undying love for the Goodyear family (who knew tires were such a close knit group) and produced pictures of a new set he’d acquired using their finance program. Sigh.

Tip #1 Leave the soliloquys with Shakespeare where they belong. Go out on a limb and ask a girl a few questions. It’s nice to share information on your hobby, but two hours’ worth is preposterous.

I’d been seeing a fellow a couple of weeks when Valentine’s Day rolled around and he popped over with a present, telling me proudly he’d asked the help of a saleslady when making this important purchase. I was impressed. Breathlessly, he presented me with a gorgeous gift wrapped in thin pink tinfoil; tied with matching bows and ribbons.

I envisioned what must certainly lurk within. Was it bath salts and fragrant soaps? Perhaps a lovely perfume, or a book and slippers with which to pamper myself?  Holding my breath I slowly pulled the paper away; savouring the moment as the outside of the box was revealed and I saw the manufacturer.

Wait a minute. Did Proctor Silex ever make women’s beauty products? Nope. I lifted the gift with astonishment. It was a bathroom scale with durable metal platform and solid foot grips—how—touching.

This gives rise to several interesting questions. Whatever happened to flowers and chocolates? Was he delivering a not-so-subtle and unappreciated hint? What kind of nut was this aforementioned saleswoman? And, who in their right mind, would want to clamber on a weigh scale for Valentine’s Day, or be reminded of excess poundage they’d laid on over Christmas?

Tip #2 Household appliances rarely make appropriate gifts—romantic or otherwise. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but almost any sort of present is better than a bathroom scale.

Of course, this was a forgivable faux pas and when he invited me to his home next day for brunch, I accepted with a smile. However, as I seated myself at the kitchen table and viewed food preparations, it was all I could do not to bolt for the door. He reached for a box of frozen waffles from the refrigerator, in itself not unusual, but now he stood at the counter briskly slashing at them with a serrated knife. A pale, greenish haze accompanied this endeavor and I craned my head in curiosity. With infinite care, he bent over each toaster treat, shaving a thick growth of MOULD from their sides! HORRORS!

#3 Raw, unadulterated penicillin is not breakfast food! No one expects culinary excellence, but serving a meal derived from decomposing waffles will almost certainly breed contempt, not love. (Also, of course, it lent a whole new meaning to the slogan, “Leggo my eggo.”)

There you have it folks, a few pointers to ponder. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Helen was born in Maidstone, SK. and has lived on the family farm in the Lloydminster area much of her life. As married mother of four grown children, Helen works as writer, bus driver and EA in her local school. This, along with her love of the Canadian prairies, travel, and all things humorous, is what she draws upon to write her tales. To order Prairie Wool, a collection of short, humorous anecdotes gleaned from the everyday of rural life, or to find more of these relatable stories from the prairies, please go to and sign up for the newsletter.