Christmas was what settled it. Over my years of dating I’d learned a thing or two about gift selection during the holidays, the first of which was to never, ever buy your girlfriend electronics. Exceptions can now be made for all things Apple, of course, but in my experience, women do not want to unwrap a gift on Christmas morning to find a new home theater receiver. The second rule: no perfume. Buying perfume was the easy way out. All a man had to do was look on his girlfriend/wife/sex worker’s dresser and find the bottle, write down the name, and drive ten minutes to the mall. While the gift itself might be appreciated, in her heart, she would be disappointed that her boyfriend/husband/john couldn’t even bother to use a little imagination, dig further past the surface, find a gift that said, “I know who you are inside and I value your presence in my life! See?”
One year, I’d bought Heather tickets to see Wicked at the Oriental. Heather loved musicals, and she loved Edina Medzel, who starred in the production. It was a good gift; we had a great night. But here I was, two years later and dating a different girl entirely, standing in the bathroom trying to figure out who made the fragrance bottle in my hand. This, after giving my current girlfriend the other half of her Christmas present two days early – a transmitter so she could listen to her iPod over her car stereo. In my defense, she’d be leaving town for Philly in a few days and would be driving for hours at a time, but whatever. I had broken my own rules and I knew it, and it sickened me to think that, for all my supposed creativity, I couldn’t manage to come up with a better gift than a miniscule bottle of scented alcohol and a plastic gadget that plugged into a cigarette lighter.