Saturday, July 28, 2007

What does it mean when a girl asks you to buy her a wristwatch?

Who's asking: Gautham, India

Without more information, it's hard for me to say -- but I've never been shy about speculating in absence of the facts.

First, if your girlfriend has asked you for a gift without prompting (e.g., "What do you want for your birthday?"), that's a bad sign. What you have in that situation is a business transaction, not a relationship. Asking for gifts is bad manners at best, genteel prostitution at worst.

But if you did say, "What would you like for your birthday/Christmas/our anniversary?" and she asked for a wristwatch, that's another story.

Traditionally, a wristwatch was considered a rather intimate gift, as they tended to be expensive. A young man courting a young woman might start by giving her a charm bracelet or an ID bracelet; might then, if he was getting more serious, give her a pin, either his fraternity pin or something else associated with one of his affiliations; and then, as the last gift before an engagement ring, give the young lady a wristwatch, so their hearts might keep time together.

Our courtship rituals have evolved -- well, disappeared might be a better word -- and now, if a girl says that she would like a wristwatch, it might just mean that she needs to know what time it is.

I own three watches, and none of them has worked in months. I should probably do something about that.

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