Valentine’s gift-giving lessons learned

Grant McGee: CNJ columnist

Valentine’s Day is Monday. Stores around Clovis, Portales and Muleshoe are festooned in red hearts, giant teddy bears, boxes of chocolates, heart-shaped balloons and stuff.

All this love in the air got me to thinking about my own (mis)adventures in the fine art of gift giving to those we are smitten with (or supposed to be).

I remember Ginny Powers in the seventh grade. She was the first girl I ever danced with. It was the big junior high Valentine’s dance. Ginny was tall and skinny with braces and I was a tall big boy with glasses.

My self-esteem was up due to a helping hand from the seventh-grade physical education teacher, Coach Hill. He had taken me aside and told me it wasn’t cool to wear plaid pants with plaid shirts. Coach Hill also gave me a pocket comb to carry around with me. He said I needed to comb my hair every now and then (my mother later told me she was sure she told me these things).

So we danced, Ginny all the while chomping on her bubble gum. I was smitten.

The next day I ran out and bought about a dollar’s worth of Bazooka bubble gum. It must’ve been about 20 pieces. Then it occurred to me, Ginny probably would only be interested in the bubble gum, not the little comics that came with each piece. If you saved enough of them you could order cool stuff from the Bazooka catalog like an exploding battleship or a submarine that you stuffed with baking powder so it would dive and surface over and over again.
So I sat down with a pair of tweezers and carefully pulled the comics out of each piece of bubble gum.

The next day I presented Ginny with the token of my affection in a brown paper bag.

“What’s this?” she said.

“Bubble gum. I know you like bubble gum.”

“Thanks.” She opened the bag and pulled out a piece.

“I took out the comics. I’m saving for an exploding battleship.”

“Oh,” she said.

Nothing happened after that. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, not knowing much about girls. That exploding battleship was really cool, though.

There’ve been other times like that over the years.

There was the young lady who just raved and raved over food processors. She wanted one really bad to use in her kitchen. So, for that special holiday I gave her one. How was I to know she was expecting an engagement ring? She was not amused.

My friends admonished me, surprised that I didn’t know not to give the gift of appliances or power tools to one’s love interest. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s one to consider.
Good Valentine’s Day gift giving, I believe, comes from listening. Sometimes, just expressing yourself sincerely on how you feel about your sweetheart can be a wonderful gift.
I think the best tip for gift giving has come from my girlfriend who advised, “Just go shopping and whatever you think would be nice to give, get it.”

I share her advice with you because she gives pretty good gifts. For Christmas she gave me a helicopter that flies up to 50 feet in the air.

That’s better than an exploding battleship any day.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: