What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.
- Roland Barthes
What do women really want?
It's been a frequent question over the past few decades - an inspiration for standup comedy, shopping channels and movies staring Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts.
This is treated like some big mystery and it's not.
Men know what women want; we're just not that good at giving it to them. That's it in a chocolate-covered nutshell.
Never is this more obvious than on Valentine's Day, which is looming only 48 hours away.
We're guys. We can make bookcases, ham sandwiches and quick decisions.
Fellas, let's review the options:
Flowers: Big mistake. Women associate flowers with apologies. Give her some flowers when you're NOT sorry, and she'll automatically think you did something wrong.
And when a woman asks: "Why don't you ever send me flowers?" Answer: "In a week, those flowers will wilt, but my feelings for you will last forever."
Jewelry: You buy a woman jewelry when she's about to slip away. You buy a woman jewelry when you're so far behind on the Relationship Advantage Scoreboard that the umpire is ready to invoke the 10-run "mercy rule."
You buy a woman jewelry when you've lost the Battle of the Sexes (or you're about to get married, which is not that much different).
Perfume: Most expensive colognes were invented by stinky, beret-headed Europeans and hardly worth their cost.
When a woman asks: "Why don't you ever buy me perfume?" Give her your best Alan Jackson smirk and say, "Cause, darlin', I like the way you smell without it."
(If this is not the truth, however, you can always give her a soap-on-a-rope set.)
Candy: There are a few skinny women on the U.S. Olympic volleyball team - the rest of the women in this great land of ours are on a diet. Giving a woman candy is only going to make her feel guilty for eating it.
Massage: Does rubbing her the wrong way count? If not, forget it.
Dinner: It's hard to argue with dinner.
I mean, you've both got to eat anyway, right? But most men are uncomfortable in any establishment that doesn't have a buffet.
On the other hand, women want something involving tablecloths, candles, extraneous silverware and a waiter who seems to think his job got its name because he's supposed to make you wait on him to remember you're sitting there.
Negotiate a place you both can tolerate.
Let her name a place, then you offer something more to your liking.
She'll probably counter, and you can, too.
Accept her third suggestion.
That allows her to get her way, and you to avoid answering any questions involving the word "vinaigrette."
Now, let's review: What do women really want?
They want what anyone wants - security, safety, reliability and a way to get where they want to go quickly.
That's why I bought my wife a new set of tires.
I'm just a hopeless romantic.
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.