Material expectations



Georgie Hunt

During one stimulating biology class in high school, I drew a diagram complete with arrows and labeled parts of the ideal male specimen according to my 15-year-old perception of perfection. I can recall several specifications, but there is one apparently attractive quality I neglected to include, as I had never considered it important. On my diagram, there was no arrow indicating the contents of the man’s deep pockets.

To me, the arrow locating his cute knees was evermore essential than attention to whatever quantity of bills padded his buttocks. It is fair to assume that everyone has a diagram of their ideal counterpart, if not scribbled in graphite on torn loose-leaf paper, then at least mentally noted. It amazes me how many of these are complete with arrows marking material expectations.

Around Valentine’s Day last year, a friend who had been dating her boyfriend for a little over a month called me to ask if I thought it was odd he did not give her anything more than a card. I considered a card customary on Cupid’s day and therefore did not urge her to immediately dispose of him, even though her other friends had deemed him a thoughtless and insensitive bloke. She agreed with me, affirming that all she had expected – wanted even – was a card. It was not until her hallmates began hounding her about how many dozens of roses she should have received and whether they were red, pink, white, yellow or an assortment of romantic hues that she began to wonder whether a card was enough.

Why does being in a relationship necessitate spending money? While there is no condemnation in wanting more presents, gifts and goodies, there is great repugnance in expecting more.

I have noticed girls fall to the ground like petals of a withered rose because their boyfriends did not send flowers. What do flowers and chocolates communicate that a boyfriend’s loyalty, attention, bear hugs, forehead kisses and telephone calls fail to get across?

By swooning over a bauble that a 20-something-year-old boyfriend’s parents’ money provided, girls give off the impression that affections can be bought and forgiveness for some ill treatment can be purchased with the swipe of plastic.

Meanwhile, the men who cannot afford to buy their way into the hearts they long to set palpitating go unnoticed or unappreciated. Their diagrams may be speckled with arrows attributing labels to all their many desirable qualities, but one particular label is missing, and they no longer matter.

A memorable line from the movie “Finding Forrester” is when Sean Connery says, “The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.” I recall my older brother making a mental note when he heard that line for the first time. The wisest word in the quote is “unexpected.” Expectations spoil spontaneity and ruin romance. They take the love and thought out of a gesture and leave in their wake only obligation and ulterior motive. There is not anything wrong with receiving and giving gifts in a relationship. Presents are nice and always appreciated, but they are bonuses, not basics.


Georgie Hunt is a junior English major from Pomfret, Conn. She can be reached at [email protected].