Valentine’s: when the shoe is on the other foot


Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga

It’s a leap year and so men are on the receiving end as opposed to the norm. And are we all so thrilled!

Will the ladies say it with flowers or chocolate? Perhaps one will be surprised with a crate of their favourite brew, and we are not talking mahewu here. The more creative ones could return the favour after four years of pure flattery.

Could the ladies take revenge on those who clean forgot it was Valentine’s by doing the same? Yes, for long men have been found guilty for the act of omission and the opposite sex has made sure that the significance of the day is not lost on them. Men just had to pay.

I would put the blame squarely on capitalism that has commercialised Valentine’s Day with the hope of cashing in on the annual craze. And they have been racking it in, of course, cashing on emotions and other human frailties.

That pockets of many hot bloodied males have been turned inside out is not in dispute. The question this time around is whether the ladies are going to return the favour. While we’ve known that the fastest way to a woman’s heart is through a man’s pocket, what equation will be at play tomorrow?

Will the ladies cook up a storm, literally? Here we are using the adage that face powder may catch a man, but it is the baking powder that keeps him!

There are certain lessons that women have to be aware of concerning Valentine’s. They cannot afford to forget the day like we have discovered to our peril. Ladies, it’s far more costly than purchasing a rose for a dollar like we have witnessed in Bulawayo. But for some strange reason, stores are well stocked with the cheap flowers even if men would rather have something else instead.

Most men are ever on the verge of being broke. Yet somehow, money has to be found to purchase all manner of gifts being sold at extortionist prices. Poor ladies, now it’s your turn to feel it.

Ever noticed how the price of some of these goodies rises exponentially on the run up to Valentine’s Day?

Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Anything red has its price.

The other practice that is likely to be shelved will be wearing red. Don’t expect the men in Bulawayo, for that matter, to be putting on that garish colour, unless you are well “earthed” of course. Not in this rainy season, if you catch my drift.

Admittedly, the hard types will not mark the day. THEY NEVER DID. You are more likely to find them at Masilela, Masina, MaGumede or the many other “Mas” scattered around the city.

The romantics, those who still have hot blood running through their veins will have a field day. I’m talking about those who are not feeling sorry that they’re in love. This is the opportune moment to recharge the batteries of waning affection.

If a relationship is in the midst of World War 3, Valentine’s Day offers a good excuse for couples to bring out the white flag with neither losing face nor crucial ground. The genuine celebrants will be those who anonymously send gifts of flowers, accompanied by a card and a car to members of the opposite sex whom they secretly admire. Cowards!

Remember those heady days when you sent your girl’s young brother with the “letter to end all letters” only for the little imp to divert it to the father? What about the bribes that you had to part with for those precious words to reach the eyes of your precious one.

Ominously addressed “For Your Eyes Only” those elegantly perfumed envelopes would spell disaster if they fell into the wrong hands.

An unfortunate friend’s well crafted letter became the subject of intense marking and correction by his intended girl’s friends. After much dissection, it was hung out on the school notice board for 1,000 plus giggling pupils to read. Shattered to the core, he bunked school for the rest of the year in embarrassment.

As for his undying love for the said girl, well let’s just say that it died a naturally painful death.

Now it’s the digital age, and Facebook, Instagram or Twitter will be jammed as messages of affection make the rounds like a computer virus. Ladies, if you want to know, occasions like Valentine’s Day are fraught with landmines. For example, there is this tradition of publishing valentine greetings on the local paper’s classifieds. I personally know of casanovas who cross their fingers (and other parts of the body) when the day approaches.

They fill up churches praying that their numerous conquests do not spill the beans on the national press.

Then there is this thing of sending bouquets to work places. Don’t do it! I mean sending flowers to your man. Offices are transformed into botanical gardens as suitors try to impress. For us men it will not look good on our CVs. Worse still if the boss happens to be female . . . and has not received anything.

By nature we all want to be spoiled. So the saying that goes, “It’s the thought that counts,” does not hold currency on Valentine’s Day I’m afraid. You just don’t “thought” mister!

Sizo might have thought that coming home sober for the first time in decades is the most romantic thing since Romeo set his eyes on Juliet. While Sikhumbuzo felt confident that his partner would be impressed by him bringing home the left over T-bone from 747.

Let’s just say that some men just didn’t get it. So ladies, now it’s your chance to get back at such characters.

Just buck the trend and localise Valentine’s! How about doing something practical like sending him mufushwa (dehydrated veggies)? Take it from me, dried Mopane worms would clinch any man — who grew up in the dusty township’s heart.

Throw in the odd bag of tobacco and you are set for life! Valentine’s Day may mean different things to different people. The thing is that if you are attached or you are intending to be, you just can’t ignore it.

Which is why retailers take out their calculators long before the day actually arrives.

Since women are more likely to be more aware of its significance, having being on the receiving end so to speak, men will have a field day this time around. They will have to bear the brunt of expectation.

The ladies’ burden this leap year is to remember to get or do something special for her loved one.

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