Anyway, at the time, I was in earnest. I argued inter alia:
* Why are we celebrating one Catholic holiday (St. Valentine's Day) if not the others.
* It's a made-up Hallmark holiday
* "What's so special about Feb. 14? I can send you flowers on any day of the year, why should I have to get you flowers on this one day?"
That's when the women's union stepped up. Virtually every women in the office asked me, in utter disbelief, whether it was so. That I was NOT going to get J. flowers for Valentine's Day. That I was going to buck the women's union. That I really was going to grow old and alone and die after suffering a masturbation-induced heart attack. (Paraphrasing and reading between the lines a bit here.)
On the other hand, the men were completely sympathetic to my arguments, agreed completely, and let me hang out to dry. They all coughed up the cash for the flowers. Such sheeple, I thought. But they simply hinted, uh, you don't want to cross this line.
Boldly, across the line I went. Valentine's Day came and went and I didn't buy flowers for J., and she didn't dump me. So there, I thought. See? Women know who's boss. I am my own man, dammit, and no one tells IB Bill when to buy flowers.
The women didn't say anything ... just sorta looked my way as if to say, "Now you done it, boy. We warned you, we gave you the easy way out, but thou art truly pigheaded and must learn through suffering and tribulation what thou hath refused to hear with thine ears."
The consequences were not immediately apparent. Just a few comments here and there, peppered steadily through the year. J., to her credit, stayed on message, was never mean about it at all, just occasionally said in an innocent tone something along these lines, "I can get flowers any day of the year? Hmm, seems like that hasn't happened. Not today. Not last month. Not the month before that. They didn't seem to get here. Are you sure you can send me flowers any day of the year?" Drip, drip, drip, a maddening accumulation, and, well ...
The next year, I coughed up them flowers faster than anyone. Gladly paid the cash. I recognize a protection racket when I see one. But I didn't care. Call it peace insurance. Call it anti-sarcasm insurance. Call it anti-earworm insurance. Call it whatever you want. Just cough it up.
Bottom line: Realistically, women aren't asking that much. A dozen roses and a couple of inexpensive gifts in exchange for not turning into a harpy. Pay it, boys. Pay it and be glad. It's actually a pretty good deal for us.
I'm just saying.