Only men bleed

February 14, 2001


  Please Note - This column was intended as a spoof and initially had the title: "V-Day: Some Advice for Men" As such, it began: "Along with birthdays and anniversaries, husbands would be well advised to circle February 14 on their calendars. Since St. Valentine was executed way back in the 3rd century to the Valentine's Day Massacre in the 20th century, that date has been a day of reckoning for men.

From the execution of St. Valentine in the 3rd century to the Valentine's Day Massacre in the 20th, Feb. 14 has been a day of reckoning for men.

Recent feminist attempts to dub it V-Day -- "Vagina Day" -- and cast it as yet another opportunity to dwell on women as victims of male violence ignore both the historical and the modern day spilling of male blood. Failing to bring flowers, chocolates and, oh yes, the card, is dangerous. And forgetting the reservation for that romantic dinner can be fatal. A man, facing the hurt look on his wife's face, is inclined to protest, "But you know I love you!" This spontaneous reaction frequently induces tears and verbal abuse, which an insensitive man might try to dismiss as mere V-Day Rage.

As a rule, I discourage people from turning to the experts for help. However, my heart goes out to these desperate men, so, casting aside all scruples, I'm offering advice.

Avoid dramatic claims such as: "I was abducted by aliens" or "My alter forgot." Nowadays, even our courts are dismissing these far-out excuses. You need a state-of-the-art, psychologically endorsed excuse.

Let's start by turning things around. Smile confidently as you offer your oversight itself as a gift, sweeping her up in the cozy notion that it's proof you are a faithful and loyal partner. To pull this off, cite a study from Rome -- what better source is there than one that comes from the Mecca of Latin lovers. Published in the Italian Journal of Psychology and Communication, it found that, of the men surveyed, those having affairs were most affectionate and attentive to their wives. The obvious corollary of this is that a man, such as yourself, arriving home empty handed on Valentine's Day, has nothing to hide. She can feel confident in her choice of a mate, casting off any fears that you may stray. The two of you, breathing a simultaneous sigh of relief, can celebrate the security of your marriage, after which you can compliment her on her "secure attachment style" (SAS in psychological lingo) and flick on the TV.

If that strategy doesn't appeal, you might remind her of your sacred vow of "till death do us part" and assure her you are doing everything possible so both of you will live to a ripe old age. Tell her about research at Yale Medical School. According to longevity experts, couples who are too emotionally close and supportive get caught up in worrying about gifts and risk driving each other to an early grave. Get across to her the idea that your apparent blunder serves to demonstrate that you are a strong, silent, independent man -- the type of husband whom researchers say will help both of you to live together longer.

A different approach is to seek sympathy, and what better way to do it than to blame it on something outside of your control. Cry out: "It's my brain's fault." According to investigators at University College London, it would appear that romantic love is associated with increased activity in an area known as the anterior cingulate cortex, a piece of grey matter lying somewhere near your brain's midline. Since we know, or at least accept the notion, that school-related learning disabilities can be attributed to neurological problems, then why not love-related ones? You suffer from a romantic disability, and will soon begin therapy.

What more appropriate therapy is there than kissing? According to Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in St. Louis, kissing can lead to holistic healing. "The social support of a kiss is a buffer against stress," she says. Dr. Seth Prosterman, a clinical sexologist in San Francisco, agrees: "A kiss can be healing, nurturing, bonding."

Any reader of fairy tales can tell you that a well-timed kiss can be nothing less than an act of magic. Not every forgetful husband can expect to be transformed from a frog into a prince, but a kiss may well save the day.

@ Dr.Tana Dineen

by Dr. Tana Dineen, special columnist,