French Faux-pas: Valentine’s Day, Crockery, Louboutin, and a Priceless Smile

I once made the faux-pas to surprise my lovely wife with a state-of-the-art crockpot for Valentine’s Day.

(That was last week.)

I don’t anticipate it will be forgotten unless I make amends and it appears that even the shiny red bounty she found under the Festivus pole a few weeks back will not be good enough for grandfathered apologies.

I am a Frenchman, but I am not immune to this sort of absolute blunder. We needed a new crock-pot; the one we had was a vestige of my college years, 20 plus years ago.

When I said absolute blunder, I carefully measure my words because Valentine’s Day, the 14th of February, is first and foremost our wedding anniversary.

Yes, you read correctly. Wedding anniversary. (Please feel free to scream your outrage at the screen at the non-alternative fact that I went for crockery on our wedding anniversary.)

Because I am either intelligent or scared, I will make sure to buy something more aligned with the occasion and probably pretend the crockpot was a diversion. Not a huge mistake, but a clever strategy.

I am known for my gift giving ‘strategeries’ which traditionally light up Jane’s lips with a glittery spark.

Jane loves clothes and shoes and jewelry, why didn’t I stick to this short and simple list? We needed a crockpot darn it!

I am usually, an expert gift giver. This past Festivus I got a great deal on a used pair of Christian Louboutin low boots with the trademarked red lipstick gloss soles. These remarkably well-crafted boots, which I took a moment to admire before I stashed them high enough away from her 5’2” ish reach, were in my closet in early November.

The subsequent two months, Jane mentioned Louboutin shuffling through glamorous magazines. She would momentarily drop one of her fat books on neurobiology or virology or epidemiology to relax her brain, open a magazine, say the magic word and I would make a fool of myself mansplaining:

“You mean to say, Louis Vuitton. It is pronounced Louis Vuitton.”

She would correct me with the patience of a mom talking to a toddler. Then she decided to educate me with photos and detailed comments on the aesthetic differences between the two designers. Yes, I know, I still feel clever about it.

The day after Jane painstakingly illustrated the “striking, very striking” differences between Louis’ conservative-traditional style of purses and Christian’s sexy-sensuous line of shoes, I ordered a Louboutin lipstick.

(It was incredibly expensive as you could have guessed, 0.134 Oz for $90.00 which amounts to $10,755.00 per pound. Holy Christian, you are a pricey French A**hole!)

My strategy was to give her the ‘small’ gift ahead of Festivus, a few days after our talk, and half complain about the price of, I quote;

“Louboutin’s crap.”

She smiled beautifully when it was in her hand, and then frowned:

“How much did you pay?”

“I can’t tell you. Now, it does double as a pendant. I mean the tube.”

“I see that, but it had to be…”

I interrupted.

“Have I ever paid something at full price?”

She knows I am a bargain shopper.
(She knows to the point of embarrassment because online as well as in-person I will ask for a discounted price.)

“Please, try it on. I want to make sure the color is right.”

So, Jane brightened her lips with a scintillating pinot noir red which did look great with the frown that did not seem to vanish as easily as I hoped.

“I was looking for that color, it is perfect, but tell me…”

“Never, it’s a gift!”

See, I am a skilled gift giver. The crockpot faux-pas was the exception, not the rule.  (I am also a talented bargain finder, I got the lipstick at an embarrassingly great price.)

Playing naive about gift-giving is a ‘strategery’ that paid off. The morning I handed her the intended present I told her with the confidence of a proud Frenchman that she would scream of joy upon seeing it. She would feel the surprise resonate in her entire body. Naturally, I stopped at “you will scream” because I could not wait to see her reaction.

A moment of explosive happiness. She would smile of joy.

When the boots were half unwrapped, she noticed the famous red soles. And she did scream, and smiled, and kissed and hugged yours truly.

She put them on. “They fit perfectly. They look great!”

I got more kisses and more hugs, and she had to explain to Gabe, our 16 years old, that she’d wanted some Louboutins for a long time and I had pretended I did not know who he was. I was granted another kiss.

Gabe smiled at his mom. Her, joyfulness is contagious. (He gave me the thumbs up knowing full well that one of his gifts would be of the same surprise caliber. He received concert tickets to his favorite band, he was thrilled about it, texting his girlfriend immediately.)

See, the crockery faux-pas was an anomaly. I enjoy the ritual of gift-giving. I always have.

A form of approval? Maybe.

A desire to keep Love flowing freely and continuously? Yes.

A chance to bring happiness to this world, starting with Jane and Gabe. Without a doubt!

Now, I still urgently need to correct my huge crockery mistake. I need to grab myself by the p…pants and run to that Ivanka-less store (Nordstrom) and track down some French wonder to make Jane smile again.

I want to see her smile; it is the greatest Valentine’s Day gift for my romantic self.

Love flowing freely. It is everything I long for our wedding anniversary and the rest of the year.

All crockery aside, literary and figuratively, I will get what I want, because I want to resume my practice of great gift-giving. Of course, Jane will get what she would rather have (but it ain’t gonna be a pound of Louboutin lipstick).

I am in love with your Louboutin smile and your price check frown Jane. Happy anniversary!

I hope you smiled, dear readers. May, Louboutin, or another fancy French designer bring you joy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo Credit: Michel Curi Flickr via Compfight cc

Michel Bordeau

My name is Michel Bordeau, aka Area Frenchman. I am a Therapist and an Education Coach in private practice in Atlanta.

Born in France, I have spent half my life in the US. I am culturally French and academically American, so you can safely assume that I know a thing or two about love (gender respectful, validating, unconditional, non-threatening) and the pleasures of life (many friends, much cheese, little w(h)ine).

When I don’t blog about mansplaining, teen assertiveness, guru shaming, toxic work environments and toxic people, motherhood, mindful parenting, immigrant entrepreneurs, bipolar disorder and body dysmorphic disorder, I dedicate my time speaking about the lessons I have learned as a therapist and a coach.

I am the host of Le Kindness Couch on Youtube. I created this channel to demonstrate that today’s therapeutic modalities are kind, validating, and solution-focused. We don’t read mind or blame your mom for everything.

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