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Valentine's Day Gifts (January 24, 2002)

In my bachelor years Valentine's Day was an annual watershed. Relationships flourished or foundered on the gifts I gave.

After a variety of break-ups resulting from untraditional offerings – one memorable item was a set of two silver-plated eggcups and spoons (too early and too suggestive) – I resorted to the tried and trusted: roses. You can't go wrong with roses.

Well, nobody ever told me there was a secret Language of Roses. It's the mother tongue of every woman born.

So that Valentine's Day I bought my inamorata a dozen roses. Yellow roses. They were gorgeous. I like yellow. Sunshine, I thought, to brighten a dreary February day.

Wrong. I might as well have handed her a bunch of poison ivy. Yellow roses, according to the floral lexicon, mean "Try to care" – a message to someone who was already choosing the names of our children.

You probably didn't know this, but there is also the secret Language of Beverage Alcohol. A language as ancient as the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, to help you avoid sending the wrong message with a gift of wine, beer or spirits, I offer this introductory lesson or a refresher course for those who haven't used the language in a long time.

If you give the following bottles on Valentine's Day this is what you are telling the recipient:

Baby Duck: "I really shouldn't be going out with you, you're far too young for me."

Two-four of Molson Canadian: "I expect you to watch Hockey Night in Canada and if there's a T-shirt inside it's mine."

Vodka: "You need breath mints."

Gin: "You remind me of my mother."

Port: "You light the fire and I'll crack the walnuts."

Sherry: "I don't mind going out with a librarian but can I unpin your hair?"

Madeira: "I've already had some, now it's your turn."

Champagne: "The glass is modelled on Marie Antoinette's left breast. How do you measure up?"

Red Burgundy: "I may not remember your name, but I never forget Chambertin."

Sauvignon Blanc: "Sure you'll get grass stains but it's healthier outdoors."

 

 

 

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