Gift Unto Others…

Welcome everyone to my first Bad Girlz post! Amendment: welcome everyone except my husband, who should go away now, since reading this will ruin a Valentine’s Day surprise. While we wait for him to leave, please enjoy staring at the following:

sam

And now that he’s gone, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

I was discussing Valentine’s Day with acquaintances and one of them smirked at me. “So what are you getting your husband?” There was a lot of wink-wink, nudge-nudge in her tone. subtle

I think she was making some assumptions because I write sexy books for Blaze (and, as Lila Bell, really sexy paranormals). I don’t think the answer she expected was, “Brisket.”

Yep, the romance author who makes her living off of love stories is giving her husband barbecued meat. Gee, swoon. But you have to understand, my husband is a displaced Texan. Any time he eats barbecue anywhere other than the state of Texas, he waxes nostalgic about how no one makes barbecue like they do “back home.” (He hasn’t lived in Texas in 20 years but, far as I can tell, if you’re born in Texas, it’s home forever.) So I researched some magazines and online sites to see if I could find a majority opinion on the BEST barbecue house in Texas, and I arranged for them to overnight one hell of a feast.

In my first year of marriage, I would have tried to show my love with a candlelit homemade dinner, maybe something extravagant like lobster, and champagne. But in my first year of marriage, I was kind of an idiot. J doesn’t like lobster. And he prefers a cold beer (brewed in Texas, natch) to the bubbly stuff. I was falling victim to the gift version of the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) The thing is, the best gifts aren’t just reflections of what we wish someone would give us, they’re gifts that show we understand the recipient and love him/her for who they are.

Case in point, I have a towering phobia of Eight Legged Bugs Which Must Not Be Named. J knew this about me when we were dating, but he didn’t see the depths of my psychosis until after we were married. At one point, I was afraid he might bail rather than letting someone so clearly unstable have his children. So I was touched (and amused) the day I came home to find a gift basket in our foyer. Beneath the shrink wrap and bow was bug spray and long-handled/heavy items that could be used to squash critters without getting too close. (Just this past Christmas, I got peppermint oil in my stocking because spraying it around door frames is supposed to help repel eight-legged evil and other pests.)

Then there was the birthday where J presented his gift with a mumbled, “You’re not gonna like it.” Turns out, when he’d told others what he bought me, they said it wasn’t very romantic. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but it was kind of an inside joke. See, while writing IS my dream job, it is also crazy-making. On every single deadline, frustrated with my characters, my computer and my “utter lack of talent! Why the hell did I think I could DO this?” I complain to my husband that I need to hit something. So I laughed out loud when I opened my mini-punching bag. (And, trust me, I use it a lot.)

punchy

Intimacy doesn’t have to be overtly sexual–which isn’t to say classic standbys don’t have their uses. J has never complained when I show up with a new lingerie purchase. And there was that one year when I sent him for supplies to get us through a predicted snowstorm and he came back with whipped cream and champagne. But if you want to give your significant other something memorable (and something they can actually admit to when a co-worker or in-law asks, “So what’d you get?”) think about who they are and how to celebrate that.

As someone who attends Dragon*Con and has witnessed Klingon weddings and Dr. Who marriage proposals, I can tell you that love doesn’t always look like what we see in commercials. Sometimes, it has a prosthetic ridged forehead or even zombie makeup. And sometimes it has Texas barbecue sauce smeared across its face.

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