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Flowers, Gentlemen?

February 12, 2014

“Valentines Day… a consumerist fraud” [1], “It’s just a con” , “Should I get the red rose?” , “I guess I should take her out to dinner… I suppose I won’t have to cook.”

Gentleman, your standards are slipping. Ladies, take note of what a gentleman should do.

Romance is the epitome of the situation where thoughtful actions and kind deeds matter. It’s a case of where the means are ends – the courtship matters! You don’t need to go to some ritzy parlour to eat just because good food is nice… you should try your humble hand at cooking a meal though. You should dress the part of a good English gentleman as well.

Whether you try your hand at time worn traditions like a moonlight stroll, or walking through gardens, or simply a joking ballroom dance… Gentleman, these are well worn traditions that have accumulated in the-past because they engage with others in good-natured, convivial ways. But, obviously, if somebody dreads a moonlight stroll, think up something else!

Show some thought.

We associate Valantines Day with red roses and romance. But Valentines Day need not be Romantic. It can be filled with acts of kindness. And if life is spotted with such acts, then all the better.

But what if you’re not declaring Romantic love? Do you still send a red rose? No! There’s a reason Victorian gentleman gave different flowers depending on the message he meant to send to somebody, be it gentle courtship or not. Any klutz can send a red rose… but the thoughtful gentleman picks out his flowers with delicate care and sends a personalised message. He puts time and thought into his work, like the meal he cooks. For even if he does not achieve perfection, the nobility of his self-sacrifice, of the time he gave for somebody else… that matters.

3 red roses or a hibiscus, white rose and a lily? The latter, of course. You convey so much more in meaning! And if you really do need to press Romantic love, then of course you may get a red rose if you wish. Better yet, gentlemen, why not wear a boutonniere?

Do you still need help gentleman? Fine, let me give you some advice I gave a friend recently for organising a day with a good lady he knew:

“The gentleman plans his time out so that the joys flow seamlessly from one to the other. But you say that spontaneity is the key? Look, you don’t want to be after dinner or something and then have a case of ‘Uh, well… what should we do?’ You want to be able to just say, offhand, ‘I think it’d be to lovely to go walk to…’ , or, ‘I know a place for a drink / food etc.’ ; you gently lead. You don’t want it to be regimented, but it’s a good idea to have an outline, a plan for the night, and let events take their course around that. And these events can be perfectly relaxed, like walking . What’s important is to start on a cordial, relaxed note. That means something that isn’t immediately labelled ‘romantic’ or ‘a date’ with all the expectations and connotations that go with that.

I can’t plan it for you, but pick an activity, have a bite to eat (it will be charming if you prepared the food) , go for a walk, and then settle at some spot or activity and enjoy the moment. Remember, do thoughtful deeds, and be spontaneous if it catches you.”

Gentleman, to convey the image of a sincerely kind, honest and forthright fellow throughout your life is all that can be expected of you, and all that can be expected of anyone. Your confidence will radiantly shine through, as will your personality, if you conduct yourself with the aplomb of an ideal English gentleman and plan your evening to be full of kind thoughts and deeds.

This is not just the image you should convey on Valentines Day. It is the forthright dignity and respect that you ought to live every day with.

——

1 – Valentines Day is often perceived as consumerist – go to the movies, expensive dining etc. – and a relative of mine recently espoused such a view. But, as the article discusses, what Valentines Day ought to be about is thought for those you love, be it Romantic or platonic. To show these thoughts in deeds does not require much money at all. You can cook yourself, go for a walk, think up bad (or good!) romantic poetry.

Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Get rid of consumerism and Valentines Day if you wish… but don’t get rid of the thought behind the day, for if you do, then how can you profess to be living every day as you should?

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