Admit it, this hasn't been your finest year. And you're starting to notice that look in your significant other's eyes—you know, the one that says, "I could do a lot better than this." When you find a copy of the Seattle Weekly open to the personal ads, it's time to do damage control—and the best approach is complete and utter subservience.
We can't help you become a better communicator. And we're not about to tell you to straighten the towels in the bathroom, particularly when our towels look like we've been using them as baby wipes. We're here to tell you that all your abominable behavior can be atoned for, if you play your cards right and are willing to devote an entire day to pursuing those slippery affections. The following list, culled from our own pathetic experiences, is guaranteed to fool your significant other (hereafter referred to as SO) into thinking you bring actual value to the relationship. And, while the time, manual labor, and exhaustion could cost a pretty penny if you hired someone, your SO's smile as you make good on your promises is nothing short of priceless.
Give the gift that keeps on humiliating
Start your exercise in diplomacy by giving your SO a sappy greeting card. No, pinhead, not one of those god-awful insincere Hallmark tomes. Make it yourself, and lay the proposition right out on the table: You've been a raving shit this year, you're sorry, you'll do better, and you'd like to begin by taking care of all the little chores your SO has been putting off. Start with the chores that will make you look like you're working the hardest—your pissed-off partner will find torn clothes and grease-stained hands more soothing than what you were planning to buy at Walgreen's.
Start with some lubrication
You know that bike in the garage your SO has been using all summer and fall, the one that looks as if it's been dipped into a vat of chocolate Jell-O Instant Pudding? You're going to clean it. Lean it against an outside wall, then hose the bastard off to remove the big pieces. Next, spray the entire bike with a citrus-based cleaner, allow the goo to dissolve for a while, then wipe the entire bike down with a bunch of clean rags. Spray with cleaner again, this time only on the greasiest bits—the chain, the three chain rings in front, and the eight little gears in back. Let it sit. Then scrub those parts vigorously. (Hint: You'd be well advised not to use your SO's toothbrush for this.) Apply some lube (do not look in your SO's dresser drawer for this) to the chain, then shift the gear levers so that the chain spreads the lube to all the metal parts. Hey, this isn't so bad, is it?
I see a red door and I want it painted black
Nothing is a bigger sinkhole for your time than painting a room. Which is exactly why you haven't done it, even though you promised you would. Well, today's the day. Find out what colors your SO is considering, then hop on down to the local paint store and collect a bunch of color strips. Show them to your SO, then head back to the paint store to buy a gallon of paint and all the supplies. Cover the floor with a drop cloth, because you're bound to step in the pan. Paint the room and allow it to dry. Then go back to the store and buy the color he or she wants the room repainted in.
Splendor in the grass
Nothing says I love you quite like weeds—or, rather, the removal of them. Rain or shine, spend a chunk of your time out in the garden jettisoning all the things that aren't supposed to be there. Note that at this time of year, the flowers are likely to be dormant and difficult to distinguish from the weeds. No matter. Pull them out, then plead exuberance. You can always plant more. It's the thought that counts.
See the bigger picture
You know that big blank over the sofa? The reason it's blank is because you've been sitting on your ass instead of hanging art. Time to remedy that situation. Since art is such a personal thing, we advise finding out exactly what your SO would like to see occupying that space, instead of just assuming a poster of Limp Bizkit would be appropriate. Encourage your SO to choose the art. Then hold it up for their discerning eye and move it around until your arms burn. Make faint pencil marks on the wall where the upper corners will sit. Then, tapping lightly, drive home the picture hook. Get it right the first time. The point of this exercise is to make you look loving and efficient, not as if you've been playing darts on the wall.
Move heaven and earth
There is a universal truism about furniture: It's never where your SO wants it. Your job is to move it. And then move it again—while maintaining a fond, loving smile. Our advice is to seek your mate's help in this job, so that your hardwood floor won't look like it's been buffed with a belt sander. Besides, it's a great way to provide the illusion that you two can actually engage in a project together.
The wild card
So far, your list includes items you've chosen. Common sense indicates that it might be a good idea to let your SO choose something special. Tell your pal that the sky's the limit: You're willing to do anything legal and relatively pain free. Hetero men, does she want you to dress up like a car repairman and explain how you're going to adjust her timing chain? Hetero ladies, does he want you to put your hair in pigtails and don knee socks while revealing that you've become distressingly fond of his sister? Homo men and women, does your SO want you to write a scathing letter to Dr. Laura, explaining in great detail how you'd like to see her defiled by Janet Reno? Then do it. Whatever your SO's fantasies are, be prepared to act on them.
There you have it—a thorough guide to giving contrition. Now all you have to do is figure out how to be tolerable for the other 364 days.
Dennis Globus is a contributing writer to Seattle Weekly.