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Should men be practical or romantic?

 Should men be romantic (Photo: iStock)

When the dust finally settles and the city finally shakes off the combined scents of candles, decaying flowers, whipped cream and fornication, all that will remain will be the silent screams of men who failed to deliver, yet again, on the most romantic day of the year.

Those men will be treated to stories of how Helen from Accounts received a bouquet of flowers every two hours until COB. Irene, the intern, had to work from the reception area because her desk was swallowed up by balloons and a teddy bear the size of an Uber. Even Muthoni, the office mum, received a skincare package from her drunk of a husband who everyone knows has not rocked her boat since 2013.

The shoulders of their sweethearts will be colder than Limuru following St. Valentine's big day. Their lips will be pushed out in a permanent pout that even the most grovelling apology won't be able to retract. Their sighs will be long and filled with unsaid things like "What kind of man did I marry?" and "My last boyfriend would have taken me to Dubai."

But those fellas are simply misunderstood. They are victims of a gradual muddying of the romantic waters, thanks to Ryan Gosling and an epidemic of sweet-talking Otienos with money to burn. They were not meant for this sweep-off-the-feet nonsense, those kings. They would much rather buy you a nice broom that keeps your house clean. Or hire you a househelp to keep you in bed until 11. Nor are they grand gesture people. Is there a grander gesture than the fact that his mother knows you're his woman?

Romance, in the eyes of these men, is sugary and unnecessary, like Fanta Orange. Best left for children and sick people. When they think of the bestsellers around that golden time in the middle of February, they cannot understand the appeal.

Flowers? You mean the things that remind us of our destructive nature as human beings? Pretty things that can be enjoyed in their natural state, but which society tells us must be plucked, bundled with others and then shipped off to an office somewhere in Westlands, before making their final journey to a kitchen counter where they will droop slowly to their death?

Chocolate? As in the direct injection of diabetes into one's body? It would be one thing if those calories went straight to the ass. But the way his lady's genes are set up, Fererro Rocher will make a beeline for the lower belly and refuse to leave.

And what of wine, that bitter soda masquerading as alcohol? You have a better chance of getting tipsy by leaving your gas on than swirling wine from a long-necked glass.

So, what, then? Buy his lady lingerie so he can see a body he knows too well packaged in fishnets like onions? Scatter petals on his bed, the same bed his two-year-old sometimes drenches when he is having nightmares, just so they can grope at each other in low light on an otherwise regular night in February?

Isn't it more prudent to spend that money on actual, tangible things? Why don't they make romcoms about the man who pays all the bills? The one whose kids never have to show up back home in the middle of the day, clutching a strongly-worded letter from the Principal?

Does it not count if his missus is taken care of, if she has a fairly extensive closet, if he takes her out every once in a while, if he blows a hole through her back whenever he can?

The insistence on being spoiled on Valentine's is more about onlookers than oneself, if we're being completely honest. My friend got this, so I deserve a similar gesture.

Our neighbours went to eat breakfast with giraffes, so I also want to see this Kenya people call a tourist haven. Because at the end of the day, when ladies sit down to watch Whatsapp stories like news highlights, there is a silent competition going on. Mine is better.

I won't argue that watching the sunset over a quiet balcony while sipping cold ones is not a beautiful way to commemorate the patron saint of epilepsy and beekeepers. I won't even sniff at the appeal of a dinner out of the stuffy house.

But there are a lot more shades to romance than outlandish gestures. Frugal doesn't have to mean unromantic.

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