Him Outdoors doesn’t buy me flowers. I complain about this but it makes no difference. He thinks they’re frivolous and he simply can’t see the point in them. He says ‘If I suddenly bought you flowers, you’d think that something was wrong.’ I wonder how many men use that lame excuse – trust me; we wouldn’t. I love flowers and I like to have them in the house, so I buy my own.
But he buys me other presents – usually what he considers to be practical gifts. He bought me some new headphones because I have to transcribe recorded interviews and the headphones I had pressed too hard against my ears and made them hurt. He bought me a polariser for my camera because he knows I love the vivid colours of Central Otago and am always trying to capture them in photographs.
He buys me beer and wine (also frivolous I know, but he can see the point in that), particularly beverages with names relating to things and places I like. He buys me winter cycling gloves because he knows how much I hate being cold. Once he bought me the boxed set of the Clash singles on vinyl – no special occasion; he just knows they’re one of my favourite ever bands.
He doesn’t really ‘do’ birthdays, anniversaries or what he calls commercial holidays – we’ll go out for a meal and a drink on each other’s birthday, but there are generally no gifts involved. The gifts are thoughtful little touches, and they come throughout the year, when he thinks of them. He’s not the sort of person to buy something and save it for three months until the official celebration is at hand – he would only have lost it or forgotten where he put it by then.
I remember the first Christmas present he ever bought me; it was a blender. We didn’t spend Christmas Day together and I unwrapped it in front of my family. My mother cast a dubious glance at it – to her it was as offensive as an iron or a hoover. ‘He bought you a what?’ But I was a student and living off home-made potato and leek soup. I really needed a blender and he knew it would save me time and effort, rather than having to mash and mix all the vegetables by hand. It was incredibly touching and the sign that I had found a kind and thoughtful man.
So I don’t mind if I have to buy my own flowers. It’s a small price to pay.