I opened our apartment door and there was Bob, grinning and standing next to a new washer and dryer. Behind him were his buddies who had helped him drag the appliances to the sixth floor. There are no elevators in our apartment building in Sicily.
They picked up the washer and trooped into the apartment asking where they should put it.
My roomie Jill was just standing in the corner with a petrified look on her face.
The men installed the washer and dryer and then left.
I closed the door and looked at Jill.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“I don’t know how to say ‘no’!” she said.
I went over to the bar, picked up a bottle of sambuca and waved it around.
“A bar, jill!”
I threw myself on the sofa.
“A sofa, Jill!”
Our apartment was filled with gifts given to Jill by a variety of men. This was a big problem.
The Matriarchy of the Past
I have heard a theory of how the matriarchy worked in the past. Of course, I have no idea if it’s true.
According to this theory, the dwellings were owned by the women. They lived in the dwelling. The men stayed in the men’s lodge, doing men things, away from the women.
If they wanted access to a woman and her home, they had to have something of value to contribute. Fix stuff, bring gifts, or be a protector. If these were accepted, he got to come into the house.
It makes sense to me because if this is true, men haven’t changed! They are still dealing with women in the same way! Much to the frustration of women who want to do those things for themselves.
The method of luring women with gifts, cash, or even drugs, is alive and well. So is the expectation that if the woman accepts them, the men get something for it. If it doesn’t happen, they get frustrated and sometimes aggressive.
Yeah, I know it’s weird. But think about it. It’s true.
It’s really important to accept only the gifts for the level you’re comfortable with.
Gifting to Women
Men are going to try to make the big offers. Women need to be the one’s to say “no”, especially if they are not comfortable going that deep in a relationship.
Unless you are ready to commit to the man, only accept gifts that are consumable, gifts that you either consume or that die, like flowers.
A bouquet of flowers is acceptable, although be leery of roses. A bonsai tree is not. Why? The bonsai tree will probably outlive you.
Chocolate is acceptable.
Dinner is acceptable.
A necklace or ring is not acceptable.
A washer/dryer combination is not acceptable.
A stuffed animal won at a fair after he just spent an hour and $50 trying to win it for you is a grey area. I think it’s acceptable because we both know that the stuffed animal isn’t going to last long. It’s not like my “Spanky”, my stuffed Ewok I bought in the 80s.
If you feel like committing too quickly to a man, and they are offering gifts too quickly, take a step back and think about what you’re doing.
It takes time to get to know a man and if you want to commit. That “love at first sight” feeling is just there to keep you interested enough to stick around to find out if you can really love him.
If you have taken your time and have decided to commit in a healthy way, then by all means let him drag that sofa into your apartment.
Once you’ve committed, you can accept all the gifts. But be appreciative. Men need that.
The Marine and the Necklace
When I was in the Navy, and living in Sicily, there as a Marine base next to our Navy base. And I went out with a Marine. I was currently living on base.
On our first date he asked me to marry him.
Of course I can’t marry him! I don’t even know him! He kept trying to convince me that other couples got engaged on their first date and that it worked out for them.
That was my only date with him.
But it didn’t stop there. He decided to stalk me and one night he jumped out from under the stairs at me with a gift. He presented me with the box. I wouldn’t accept it, or even look at it. He told me it was a necklace and that it was beautiful. I told him that I was sure that it was the most beautiful necklace ever, but that I still couldn’t accept it.
We were going nowhere.
He took to pestering me when Kim (I knew two men named Kim in the Navy) came flying down the stairs in his underwear to “save” me. My protector. Men…
After Kim’s display, the matter ended with the Marine. Problem solved.
The problem is that all of these men truly believed they had a shot with Jill. She accepted their gifts. They thought they were a shoe-in.
And none of them were.
Things got really rough when the head of Motta Sant’Anastasia, the town we lived in, jumped into the fray.
He didn’t bring appliances and furniture, he brought something worse. Personal items. He brought a pepper tree, a ring, and a beautiful leather outfit.
Damned if Jill didn’t accept them as well.
When he figured out that she’d accepted his gifts and yet denied him, he got angry. It’s dangerous to make a powerful person in Sicily, of all places, angry with you.
I finally sat him down to a beer and explained it all to him. I explained to him that these are not good gifts to give someone he’s trying to date. He kept waving his hand, “money is no object!” But clearly it was. Ater telling him about the washer and dryer and the bar and the sofa, he calmed down. It wasn’t personal, and he was a smart guy.
Moral of the story: Don’t be a Jill. Appliances, pepper trees, and other objects that are not consumable are not acceptable gifts. Accepting them sends the wrong message.
“What do you want for Valentine’s Day?”
“Dinner and flowers are just fine, darlin’.”