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VALENTINES DAY: The Toughest Test Of All

February 2004
VALENTINES DAY: The Toughest Test Of All

When I graduated from college, I was excited about one thing: No more tests! For the first time in my life, I was a free man. I could do as I pleased, go where I pleased, without being graded, without someone looking at me sympathetically and saying, "Sorry, Melvin. If you had only worked twice as hard, shown twice as much enthusiasm in class, you might have earned yourself a ?D.' See you again next year."

My post-college bliss lasted several months, then one day I came to a grim realization: Life is full of tests. You just can't escape them, no matter which government office you hide in. Even in your last days, when you can barely feed and clean yourself, your doctor will be putting you through tests.

Doctor: "I'm still awaiting the results of your blood and urine tests, Mr. Gupta. In the meantime, I'd like to test your sweat. Do you think you can produce a little?"

Gupta: "No sweat, doc. None whatsoever. Last time I sweated was 1992, during the Bombay riots. Why don't you test my saliva instead? I have no trouble producing that."

Doctor: "Yes, I can see that. Here, please take this napkin."

I've had to take a number of tests since college, including eye tests, driving tests, and sanity tests. Perhaps the toughest test comes every Valentine's Day. I call it the "What are you going to get her this time?" test. With my romance skills, I've never received an ?F' in this test. My wife has a complex grading scale and I usually score somewhere between "Y' and ?Z.'

Marriage gives me two other tests every year: anniversary and birthday. A few years ago, I failed the birthday test, not because I couldn't think of the right gift, but because I couldn't think of the right date. Ouch! For several days, I walked around with my head held low, wishing I was back in college. At least after those tests, I didn't have to eat Cornflakes for dinner.

But Valentine's Day is the toughest of the marriage tests, because you don't just have to impress your wife, you have to compete with other men. If your wife's co-worker has just received a dozen roses from her husband, you'd better not send your wife a dozen doughnuts. Even if you've included a special message: "These doughnuts are sweet, but not as sweet as you. These doughnuts are round, but ?" Trust me, you'll have a lot of explaining to do.

You: "Honey, remember how you always say that it's the thought that counts? Well, I thought about getting you roses. Really I did!"

She: "Yes, it's definitely the thought that counts. And you're a bigger idiot than I thought."

Valentine's Day is so commercialized that the only thought most men have is how to pay off the credit card. A dozen roses can cost as much as $100. Women love roses, yet they want men to be creative. On Valentine's Day, with roses being sold in almost every store, picking a rose involves as much creativity as picking a nose. But if you want to pass the test, you'd better buy some roses, unless, of course, you can afford something with diamonds in it. And I'm not talking about a deck of playing cards.

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