, Salem, MA

February 14, 2013

Talk is cheap — and works great

Mary Alice Cookson
The Salem News

---- — Recently, I overheard a man say that Valentine’s Day was nothing but a “Hallmark holiday” and he wasn’t going to be “forced into romance by the greeting card industry trying to rake more money out of him.” (I should mention this man is married. Or maybe that goes without saying.)

He makes an excellent point, though. Have you seen the price of greeting cards lately? Today’s cards sing and play tunes and do things that cards in the past never had to do. Soon, I bet, they’ll be dancing across shelves. With an entire selection of cards worthy of being featured on “The X Factor,” it’s hard to pick one.

Some cards even allow you to record your own personalized messages. I always wonder who buys these, but I suspect longtime married men might have things they’d like to say to their wives, such as, “Please remember to put gas in the car,” “No, it’s not my turn to empty the dishwasher” and “Why’d you spend $200 on boots?”

Regardless of the message, I think I speak for most women when I say we’d prefer that our spouses or partners talk to us instead of relying on greeting cards. Serenading is nice, too, but best left to those who can carry a tune, or who may have previously starred in a Broadway musical.

Call me silly, call me naive, call me maybe, but I agree we can do without the Hallmark in this holiday, provided we nurture our relationships with genuine words. Expecting conversation hearts to say what we feel with their “luv ya 4 evah” is just so middle school!

I say to valentines everywhere: You won’t need to rely on that heart-shaped box of chocolates or roses from the florist (or supermarket) if you just talk and show some interest, already.

For most women, a relationship with good communication is like a brownie sundae with hot fudge sauce. When you have it, you don’t need much else. Lingerie is nice, but old flannels are warmer. Who needs a limo ride and dinner at a fancy restaurant when Super Sub delivers mushroom cheesesteaks? Who needs the bottle of Dom when there’s Bud Light Lime? And who needs an overnight stay at a five-star resort without spouse and kids? (Sorry, I digress.)

Personally, I’d like to time-travel from our 2013 texting world to the “Downton Abbey” era, when romance relied on the long-lost art of conversation: “Lady Mary, that gown is fetching on you, and I love the way your ladies’ maid has styled your hair. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I married you, and into your wonderful family, and no matter what happens, fortune or no fortune, I intend to make you the happiest woman alive, until the end of my days — that is, if you’ll allow me.”

If men talked like this, they wouldn’t need to spend money on Valentine cards. In fact, they could skip Valentine’s Day altogether and women would be perfectly happy.


Mary Alice Cookson is a Beverly-based columnist. She welcomes comments at