Wednesday, March 5, 2014

If you love her, don’t you dare surprise her!


A few months after we’d been married and our hearts had finally stopped racing like thoroughbreds let loose on a racecourse, the stars in our eyes having relocated to the sky, we sat down to make a list of do’s and don’ts for the sake of our marital wellness. It’s not as if we had any prior experience of being married to know the rights from wrongs. But, we did have our parent’s sterling example to know exactly what not to do to avoid ending up as squabbling siblings. Our parents may openly think that they know better than us but we all secretly hope to be better than them. After all it is from their mistakes we learnt our life’s lessons.

My Dad had a penchant for surprising my Mom with gifts. He’d return home like a triumphant warrior and reverentially place the spoils of his conquest at her feet. He had a special affinity for raiding the newly opened Vimal sari store and picking up their shiniest and brightest specimens for his missus. He mostly bought gifts according to his sunny demeanour and not according to her taste. Initially, she’d indulge him and look suitably surprised and happy which was soon replaced by dismay and later alarm at how much money he’d spend on stuff she’d never wear! 




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Armed with this precious knowledge, I looked deeply into my newly minted husband’s eyes and said – Darling, promise me that you’ll never surprise me! 

The thing is most women don’t like surprises for the simple reason they know exactly what they want and men don’t! This is exactly why she can spend hours at a store, slipping in and out of 15 dresses at a stretch, sashaying up and down the fitting rooms aisle, staring at herself intently from 6 different angles, ask everyone for their opinions and walk out of the store with just lint on her hair and the exasperated stare of the store attendant burning through her back. It’s because none of the dresses were the exact shade of faded Rose, a perfect match for her pewter coloured sandals with a hint of silver dust. Plus not of them were the right cut or length to do justice to her womanly curves.
 


Men. If you’re planning to surprise with a green handbag that she’s been craving for months – don’t even attempt it. There’s no way your untrained eyes can differentiate between sea green, emerald green, blue-green, deep green or plantain leaf green! Plus you have no idea, if she wants it for leisure, pleasure or work. Whether she wants a clutch, a hobo, muff, saddle, satchel, a roomy shoulder or a no fuss messenger bag!

For her, everything she acquires, is a quest for perfection - soft but supportive with just the right feel, accommodating and sensitive to her changing needs, complementing her image and not too demanding, just like the man she’d hoped to fall in love with. What she wears, what she adorns herself with or even what she buys for her house is an extension of her personality – cheerful, vibrant, no-nonsense, earthy, indecisive… One look at what she’s wearing, how her office desk looks like or how she’s kept her house can tell volumes about her. She has colours and outfits to complement her gloomy days, happy days, ‘no one understands me’ days or even fat days.

Yet, for some strange reason she has to put with accusations of being tough to understand, a mystery that no man can unravel. The bitter truth is, she knows exactly what she wants, but what she wants is too complicated for your simple mind to process.

Which is why, she can spend hours at the mall and still come back empty-handed because she refuses to settle for something unworthy of her attention. For you it’s a chore, for her it’s an expedition to explore and study the terrain, survey her many options, make careful sometimes heartbreaking decisions before going for the kill. If there are days she couldn’t be least bothered, it’s because she’s terribly bored. The days she’s feeling adventurous, she will surrender to her instincts and end up buying something deliciously sinful to pamper herself.

For her, his ‘surprises’ are not merely gifts. They are manifestations of how much you understand and cherish her. So, even a bunch of Frangipanis you scooped up from the garden for her because you know how much she loves their fragrance, can make her giggle like a school girl and the most expensive perfume you picked up from Duty Free can make her frown because you have no idea how much she hates musk.

And you still wonder why she’s so difficult to please?

If you still want to take the risk of surprising her, I suggest you look at her not as a wife, mother of your children or a daughter to your parents but as the woman you fell in love with.

She's perfectly capable of taking care of her needs.
So, he shouldn’t give her what she needs but, rather, give her what she wants.

Thankfully for me, the husband never paid to heed to my diktat and keeps surprising me with his deep understanding of me. The gifts are incidental. 

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109 comments:

  1. Ha! So true. I rarely venture on my own to buy anything for my wife except something symbolic whenever I visit some foreign country. I realized very early that choosing right clothing and jewels is way beyond my capabilities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what the husband does. Gets me gifts only when he's traveling.

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  2. WOW!! I have to make my husband read this!! When I go for shopping with him (happens once in a blue moon), we more often end up fighting over the time I spend selecting clothes, accessories etc.....and he would have completed his shopping while I would have just entered the first phase, of what we know as filtering out from what we don't want - the size needs to be right, the color has to be exactly what we want and the accessories must match! And men find it difficult to understand - "Which is why, she can spend hours at the mall and still come back empty-handed because she refuses to settle for something unworthy of her attention."

    Beautiful post Purba! Guess I am the first to visit this time :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. A man's choices are pretty simple - plain, check, stripes/ blue, grey,beige. If we had choices like these, we'd be done with our shopping in a jiffy.

      And thanks for reading, Narayani.

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  3. My husband gets to read this.
    He stopped buying gifts after he realized (first year of marriage) that instead of pleasing me, he was annoying me with his gifts.

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    1. Hahaha...A man's mind is too simple to figure out our complicated likes and dislikes that keep changing with every season.

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  4. Purba! Every word you wrote is true and I have stopped giving surprises many years ago even to my daughter! Would have to write another post like you to explain:)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I know how much that hurts, Rahul. But we wimmen are crazy!

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  5. "Give her what she wants, not what she needs." - This is the most practicable statement for a woman. Great post!

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  6. My husband learnt this important lesson early on :)
    But I must tell you about a friend who was just a week into her marriage and decided to take her husband shopping. She had told him she wanted to pick up one top and hence the trip. As they browsed through the apparels section, she picked up three and started towards the trial rooms only to stop short at the confused look on the husband's face. When asked what was wrong, he says "but didn't you say you wanted to buy "one" top?? then why try three???? She has never taken him shopping ever since. :)

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    1. Exactly! If stop at a store and start browsing, I have to explain to him that I don't intend to buy anything. He just doesn't get it, Geez!

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  7. Though, I love gifts but surprises are another matter altogether unless they comprise chocolates or flowers. By now the husband knows exactly which flower in what color I like. Chocolates well, I can eat any. Clothes etc. I really prefer to buy on my own. Yep, men must stay away from these nasty surprises :-D. A fun read.

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    1. And it works vice versa too. I wouldn't buy him clothes or wallet or shoes either. I think it is best that he exercises his choice and I mine :-D.

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    2. Of course! I used to love surprising him with gifts but not anymore. I usually end up buying colours he'll never wear :/

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  8. What a lovely piece of work purba. Couldn't have said it any better. Husband def has to read this. I squirm when I see the pile of surprise gifts that I am never gonna use. But he always says its the thought that counts. Hmph!!!

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    1. The thought does count but only if its thoughtful :D

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  9. I refuse to accept any other gifts than cash :-) You had with laughing out loud all through the first para ! Great Read as usual Purba !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even my parents give me cash and I get to buy whatever I like with that. Works perfectly.

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  10. Great post.Men cannot understand women.how will they ever guess what they want?
    Yes surprise gifts can take the color of shocking gifts sometimes.

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  11. Papa deposits cash in my account every year on my birthday and wedding anniversary and I look forward to them...when I go to India without any INR I use this gift money for my shopping...my daddy is the best !!! :D And yes completely agree to what you said...I always like cash gifts and even gift vouchers ! :-) I really do not like anybody gifting me clothes or shoes !

    ReplyDelete
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    1. My parents do the same for all us including my daughter. They accepted long time back that they can never figure out our tastes.

      Delete
  12. Well, my husband had this annoying way of hiding my presents and then making me find them to cherish my gifts. He thought it was fun and then after I found my presents I realized they were very bright, very flashy stuffs which I hated. I always liked to keep myself in darker, earthy tones and so on. These days my husband asks me what I need for a gift and then he buys me exactly that. I know this sounds boring but I have what I wanted :-D

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    1. Hahaha....I am imagining you on a treasure hunt and that look of dismay on your face as your gather baubles you don't want.

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  13. aah , sweet! so surprising is not so bad in the end if it caters to our wants more than our needs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would you like it if your partner gave you a sack of rice or a food processor?

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  14. Blue is blue, green is green and red is red. You guys have created all these imaginative colours to confuse others. And a bag is a bag......you just use it to carry stuff. See, these things are so simple. Women complicate stuff. A black t-shirt, jeans and sport shoes can be worn anytime and for any occasion or mood.

    P.S. By Frangipani you meant bottled water, right? The pani that firangs drink when in India?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Precisely why Men are from caves and women are from villas.

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  15. Darn! And I kept off marriage cos I was no good at shopping :) You mean ALL that women want is that I do NOT shop for them? :) (That wasn't it? Then..? I will NEVER understand women:) )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can if you try hard enough. It's not rocket science, you know!

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    2. That's the problem :) Rocket Science is easier - the impact of any procedure does not depend on the mood of the Rocket :P

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  16. My husband and I have a deal. We shop together for gifts! Works best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! That's a perfect arrangement.

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  17. good one purba... I always tell the husband what I want..and he gets me that as a surprise (meaning he will come back from his tour with a gift of something i had told him some time ago i wanted and lay it down on my feet)...works perfectly for me (and him!!)

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. For fragrances, I totally rely on his choice. He knows exactly what I want. And when he gets what he wants me to wear, I don't complain :p

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  18. Surprised by this article. When the world is going through such a significant socio-political drift with Putin encroaching into Ukrane, India, sorry Narendra Modi gearing up for national elections, Vidya Balan nearly missing an Oscar(ok, at least she thinks so) etc, etc, a veteran columnist and social commentator like you chose such a trivial topic to discuss? Unless there was an important message to someone in that last line..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uff, Gurujee. Why so serious?

      Of course, there's a boulder sized hint not just for him but all men.

      Delete
  19. Thankfully my hubby never gave me gifts...he always gave me money to buy whatever I want or took me along whenever he felt like gifting me something. And strangely enough, I am completely opposite to the women you have mentioned. My shopping happens in a jiffy in comparison. On the contrary he takes time. It balances out somewhere I guess. :)

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    1. Ah yes! There are women who loathe shopping and there are some of us who are done in a jiffy. But when it comes to buying apparel, I take a lot of time :-)

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    2. I am very quick too, Janaki and Purba. I am out of the store in a jiffy. And I have at best one bag and a couple of pairs of shoes at most time. I am very thrifty in that sense.

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    3. I can never have enough of shoes! I need to have them in all possible colours.

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    4. I mostly love what is on the mannequin....ask for the same, try for the size and buy it.

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  20. ...just like the man she’d hoped to fall in love with...
    This, thank goodness women take their chances here, or else in a quest of just the right fit, she might have to wait forever. And for that, I think, men should be thankful (perhaps women too).

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess it works both ways, Anshul :-)

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  21. :) You can never go wrong! \m/

    ReplyDelete
  22. Loved this post. The boyfriend once got me jewelry based on some female friend's advice and I made sure I raised a big drama over it. Now he gets me only chocs or something from MY wish list.
    Hilarious description as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes feel sorry for the guys for never getting it right :D

      And thanks.

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  23. And you know what's worse? Actually bluntly telling your guy how ugly the think he got you is. Very bad habit.

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    1. Hmm...so how many times have you done that?

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  24. Thankfully my boyfriend has a good idea of what I like, so yepp never had a surprise gift that I have disliked. :D

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    Replies
    1. You are lucky, girl!

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    2. Especially after reading all these comments lol

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  25. I simply cannot see a man looking for subtleties in a gift like "the exact shade of faded Rose or pewter coloured sandals with a hint of silver dust". Haha. Enjoyed your beautifully descriptive post - every word so true.

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    1. Their minds are too simple to process our complicated needs. It makes so much more sense to leave it to us.

      Delete
  26. Sigh! Purba, it is so difficult to avoid that expectant gaze he gives after placing the gift in my hands perhaps expecting me to do cartwheels. Or ushering you into a store when you actually want to go to the other store. Loved that line of yours "...walk out of that store with just lint on her hair." Have seen it happening so many times!!

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    Replies
    1. Aww...I know how that feels. Ending up something that you don't like but still have to wear.

      Delete
  27. I have to show this to my husband. He will be very happy to read this because he never attempted to surprise me. Once on my birthday, he took me along to buy my bday card. He said, "You choose the card, I will write on it" :P

    ReplyDelete
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    1. SERIOUSLY! This is another extreme.
      Don't you feel like bashing him up? :D

      Delete
  28. Hmmm, I may be one of those few who thrives on surprise gifts! I love them and my husband, in our 14 years of marriage has become quite a player at this game :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Your husband should conduct classes for clueless spouses.

      Delete
  29. Cash. Why can't they simply give us cash and let us agonize over what to buy, where to wear it, or which corner to decorate with it? Simplifies things

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    Replies
    1. It does but the delight of unexpected gifts is something else.

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  30. Really a true account!
    Strangely, my hubby asks me not to wear what he has gifted as he claims it doesn't "suit" me! Now he has learnt the lesson himself & stopped gifting! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha....your guy is a fast learner.

      Delete
  31. Take a tip fro me.....best way to flirt with one's wife is to give a gift which need not be in terms of money,diamonds.
    Just look into her eyes and hold her hands tight.Ask her,she would agree that it is the best gift she ever received.
    Try KARO,Mitron

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GUYS, I HOPE YOU ARE READING CHAWLA JEE'S EXPERT ADVICE!

      Delete
  32. LOL ! I will ask my husband to read this. He has burnt his fingers so many time, that now he absolutely refuses to buy me any gift and has developed a healthy aversion to giving me any kind of surprises !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We might dread their surprises but we all secretly hope that someday they'll finally get it right.

      Delete
  33. "Give her what she wants, not what she needs."

    That's the point..and 'they' will never understand this.. sigh..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We expect them to gauge our wants but that's just fanciful thinking.

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  34. Nice one..Really enjoyed this.. Perhaps I'll have to re-think a little

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  35. I once tried going out and buying gifts for myself with money that hubs gave me. It was sensible but dissatisfying! So now I drag him along to stare morosely while I choose!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's no fun buying your own gifts :/

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  36. Men will be men!
    A humongous write indeed:)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I just loved this because this is so so true. :-D Poor things bring in surprises that are not of our taste and then end up sulking having spend a lifetime's savings on it. A humurous take, but a very truthful one. Enjoyed! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  38. My husband doesn't believe in the act of gifting!! You know what you want, just get it or tell me I will get it for you. That's him.

    Even when he is travelling I get a call "what do want?"
    Works fine with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess it does. Saves a lot of heartbreak and disappointment,

      Delete
  39. Great post!! Amusing in such a musing way. I almost fell from my chair laughing. I have made my husband to read it. Fantastic! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hahahaha...I hope he finally knows what his wife wants.

      Delete
  40. 'Give her what she wants and not.....' "gift her as the woman you fell in love with........" Sigh! sigh! sigh! I am still recovering from a surprise Valentine gift and still nursing my pride/ injured heart .....sigh!
    AMAZING choice and WELL written! Congrats Purba.... U must be tired of replying itself :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Naa...I was just hoping that more men will read this and finally get it right :-)

      Delete
  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  42. Take a bow Purba.. You are 'the' voice of us naris.. Hats off to you woman !!

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    1. Aww..thank you for your kind words.

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  43. I have to show this to my husband... I was nodding all the way and again i am reading this during my train jouney... Laughing alone pointing at my screen.
    This is one of the major reason why I miss my friends, my shopping sessions with hubby usually turns into a major disaster. I have a suspicion that he it's colourblind. :P he doesn't get it at all. Thankfully he is not one of those one who surprise with clothes or jewellery... :)

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    1. My Maa doesn't even let my Dad buy jewelry for her, petrified that he'll end up buying something really ugly for her :D

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  44. But, if the man succeeds in finding the right gift, as in somthing she really wanted/needed/longed for... Then thats it! the love multiplies... But only until the next gift,. After all, it has to be equally perfect! Men, this is tough... So follow Purba's advice of never gifting... But also remember that women loves gift! :P

    Am I confusing Purba?

    I have to tell you that this is a lovely post and I enjoyed the read thoroughly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment sums up our predicament perfectly! We are dying to be surprised but waiting to be disappointed.

      Thanks for reading :-)

      Delete
  45. I am a sucker for surprises...I spent the first ten years waiting for them. But now, even if he is going to gift me a surprise, I would say, pleaseee....let me buy my stuff...but, it's always fun to shop with him because he says it correctly, where the curve is bulging or not...:P So, make use of them when we need...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I'm shopping with him, I end up buying more. If I feel confused between the red and the green top, he insists I buy both :D

      Delete
  46. Chalo good, saves me the bother of getting you a pressie when you finally move back to Gurgaon. That rice cooker will be gifted to my friend whose 20th wedding anniversary approaches.

    Lovely, funny post!

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    1. You just saved your precious head from permanent damage because that's where the rice cooker would have landed!

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  47. Does this mean I need to return that new steam iron now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gifting your wife a steam iron is SACRILEGE!

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  48. I used to try to understand women, Purba, but after reading this, I have made up my mind no longer to. Did this piece have a 'trigger' that set it off, something your husband bought you?:D

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    Replies
    1. On the contrary, he surprised me with the most exquisite neckpiece that he brought from your country "-)

      Delete
  49. Guess, it's a tough call for a woman to surprise a woman with gifts...guess most of us, humans, are different. Hmm! Love the last lines and it surely a way to a woman's heart..see her as the one u love:)

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    Replies
    1. It's the gesture that counts, not the price of the gift :-)

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  50. I am going to patent a new app, where the wives can post pictures of what they want to be surprised with, along with where it is available and at what price..that should work, no?

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    Replies
    1. I expect a percentage of the profit since you got the idea from here. Will send you my bank details ASAP.

      Delete
  51. http://www.tickld.com/x/the-difference-between-men-and-women

    thought this would help

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    Replies
    1. ROFL, sharing this is on Twitter. This is so hilarious and errmm....true :/

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