Seeing Red

If you watched the last episode of Mad Men this season, you may or may not have noticed a trend towards the use of the colour red strategically throughout the episode.  An article on Slate works on the theory that the red, used at some point to costume each of the female leads, represents female power, as Joan, Peggy and Megan all wear red as they move on to achieve goals or more important roles in their respective careers.

Studies show, however, that the colour red works in a very specific way on men (but not women) to make them amorous. To men, red is the colour of love (which might explain the marketing machine that is red roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s Day). Photos of women wearing red, as opposed to other colours, were thought by men in the study to be more attractive.

In the restaurant industry, female servers who wore red got better tips from male customers. There was no difference with female customers.

The initial study took place in 2008, and the restaurant study earlier this year. But the phenomenon likely started long ago.

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Thinking Outside the (Heart-Shaped) Box

I kind of hate Valentine’s Day. In a world where we should all be saying “I love you” any chance we can get, or where buying a partner flowers or candy should/could be a regular occurrence, there’s just way too much pressure to fill one particular day with a year’s worth of romance and caring. And because most people are out of practice when it comes to showing others that they care about them, they fall back on “tradition” (aka. the tacky and clichéd). So while, in truth, I don’t have too much problem with a heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates (I actually like the orange creams), so much of what falls into the standard Valentine’s Day gift list (a dozen red roses, champagne, romantic dinner for two) sort of makes me retch. Or at least roll my eyes and groan – and not in a good way.

Now while I can’t help readers with the other issues aside from advising that a gift that suits the recipient’s tastes is better than a gift that is simply “traditional” (ie. buy a cool plant or a bouquet of their favourite flower instead of those tacky roses; skip the teddy bear unless the giftee is under the age of 10; and wait until Sunday and go for a lovely brunch instead of getting shafted on an overpriced V-Day dinner…), I am able to recommend some non-traditional sweets and candies that show a lot more thought and creativity than a gift picked up at the gas station.

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Hearts and Flowers

Greg came home with the very best Valentine’s Day gift ever. It wasn’t roses, or chocolates or tacky lingerie. It was a recount of a cell phone conversation he overheard on the streetcar on his way home.

The woman seated in front of him dialed up what was obviously her live-in boyfriend. And went about dropping hints left, right and centre, mentioning Valentine’s Day several times and even specifically asking her spouse to “pick up some flowers on the way home for dinner”.

Except that hubby was either dense, not into the Valentine’s game or was really just not that into her, because, as Greg recounted, her next statement was, “Oh. You’re going to the bar.”

There was some more mentions of picking up some flowers (hint, hint, hint), and finally, a “Have fun at the bar!” which no doubt was uttered with the most guilt-inducing tone she could muster. Greg also indicates that he was able to hear the line disconnect just as the woman said “I love you,” in a sad, tiny voice.

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