Say It with Gear

Amber Ault has an unconventional suggestion for a gift for that special someone this Valentine’s Day.

If you really want to express your love for that cutie this Valentine’s Day, give that person …

… great chocolate

… great dinner

… great — whoops, this isn’t that kind of magazine!

How about great gear?

In previous generations, diamonds were a girl’s best friend, but we’re politically evolved enough to know how those diamonds got here, and besides, this is a recession. And while chocolate and dinner are certainly appreciated, they are quickly consumed. Indeed, if you date an athlete, s/he may regard them simply as fuel for the next event—how romantic is that? Yes, durable goods in the form of gear may be just the thing to wend your way deeper into the healthy heart of the object of your affection.

There are two secrets to giving great gear: first, know what kind will make your sweetie’s heart beat faster; second, find an expert who can help you narrow down your options.

To get at the first issue, think carefully about what brings your beloved joy, and juxtapose this with gear-related problems about which s/he complains. Somewhere in the universe between these things lives the perfect gift of gear.

For example, if your sweetheart rides bike in sub-zero temps training for the challenging QuadruPedal ride and waxes poetic about how warm those lobster claw gloves keep the hands but laments how the feet freeze, you’ve got your data. A lifetime supply of adhesive toe warmers could heat up your honey’s passion for you. Not romantic, you say? Nothing is more romantic than being truly seen, validated, and supported by your beloved. Besides, it’s all about the framing; the note can read, “I want my love to keep you warm even when you’re pursuing your dreams in Siberia.”

If your partner comes home from the gym proud of bench-pressing improvements despite wretched blisters, you’re onto it. A sexy pair of leather lifting gloves could raise this romance to the next level. The inscription? “You always lift me higher and higher.”

A local kayaker friend tells me that “a good paddle” would make a nice sentimental offering, while a Madison Gay Hockey Association goalie says, “Any stick that looks expensive and sexy prolly is expensive and sexy.”

You’re getting the idea. Gear is good.

So, now that you’re convinced and you have researched your beloved’s gear delights and deficits, you need to find an expert. Fortunately, Madison is full of those, whatever his/her active pastime might be.

Let’s pick running. I call up David Meixelsperger, co-owner of Berkeley Running Company, to ask him how he would guide a shopper hoping to send a message of love.

“First,” he says, “You have to know what the person likes and what kind of running the person does.” David knows the secret of romance.

Then he starts sifting and winnowing. For an outdoor runner, he recommends a “SPIbelt,” which allows your valentine to carry a cell phone around the waist, increasing safety … and the ability to receive your texts on the go. He’s also got “STABILicers,” that attach to running shoes for navigating icy terrain; he’s got white lights for those who want to see, and red lights for those who want to be seen; he’s got warmers for various body parts, and massage sticks “for keeping your sweetheart’s muscles loose.” Isn’t this starting to sound romantic?

Along with the chocolate and love poems this Valentine’s Day, think about giving someone a gift of gear that will raise her heart rate or make him sweat—both scientifically proven aphrodisiacs likely to translate into you having a fabulous Valentine’s Day, too.