Valentines DayOkay ladies, feel free to sit this one out since, unlike your male compatriots, you’ve probably had your significant other’s Valentines Day gift purchased and wrapped since the day after Christmas. So guys, this one is all for you. I understand how “things” just happen to sneak up on you, and doesn’t this one come as a surprise every year? One minute your all wrapped up in the important issues of the day: post Super Bowl analysis, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and which container keeps your beer colder–glass or those new aluminum “bottles”, and the next thing you know, its February 14th and you’ve got nothing. Certainly, there are some daredevils out there who just like to take things right to the edge, and they deserve what they get, but wouldn’t most of us really prefer to avoid the “hairy eyeball” that awaits us when we show up empty handed on this universal day of love? If you’re reading this, and just now realizing that you will be returning home this evening not bearing gifts, your situation is dire but not unsalvageable. You’ve got work to do, but if you follow the rules listed below you still have every reason to be confident that you will make it through tonight unscathed:

1)    Don’t buy flowers. The untold truth is that women only want to receive flowers where other women can see that they’ve received them. In other words, if your gal hasn’t had your order of roses delivered to the office today, it’s too late. You see, the average wife or girlfriend already knows that you love them, what they really want is everyone else to know it too.

2)    Candy only in small quantities. Unless you want to spend the next two weeks assuring her that “no, that (fill in the blank) doesn’t make her butt look big”—and is there really a satisfactory answer for this one– moderation is the operative word here. A few of those ridiculously priced chocolate truffles from that store in the mall you can’t believe is in business is fine; the two-pound mega crate is just asking for trouble.

3)    Don’t believe those radio and TV ads. Yeah, I know they tell you she’ll just love that four foot tall teddy bear, but unless your significant other is under the age of 14—and there are laws against that type of thing—you might as well show up with those cellophane wrapped flowers and a Whitman Sampler. The result will be the same.

4)    Don’t get your card at the drug store. By the time V-Day rolls around, your average CVS or Walgreen’s have been cleaned out for a week by all the guys who had more on the ball than you. Trying to pass off a remaining Hallmark remnant is only going to exacerbate a bad situation. My father once attempted to pull this off early in his marriage by crossing out the word “Aunt” on the card and penciling in “Wife”. Needless to say this did not go over well with my mother. She still brings it up every Valentines Day. They’ve been married 45 years, and still no one has the temerity to laugh. My father sure doesn’t. Since your wife will find more than enough shortcomings to remind you of, there’s no need to provide additional ammunition, so hit the grocery store for your delinquent card purchase. They buy in bulk, so chances are you’ll find something that features the proper relationship.

5)    Make dinner work for you. If you haven’t made reservations by now, you couldn’t even get into a Jack-in-the-Box before 11, but this dereliction of romantic duty can work in your favor. Since the homage to St. Valentine is on Friday this year, call and make reservations for Saturday. Then explain that you knew she’d be tired from a full day of work, or chasing the kids, and wouldn’t want to fight the crowds. This way you two can have a nice quiet evening together. The important element of this maneuver is confidence. Just like jungle predators, women can smell fear. Appearing self-assured when presenting your hastily made dinner plans will leave her thinking that you did it for her.

Valentines Day may the trickiest of all holidays. Although it does offer some upside potential, it is far outweighed by the short, and long, term damage that can result through its insufficient acknowledgement. Unfortunately, this is a path each man must walk alone. Hopefully the accumulated knowledge that has been presented will help you avoid the recriminations and tears—your significant other may cry a little too—that await the unprepared Valentine celebrant. In closing let me wish all of you a happy Valentines Day, and, of course, good luck.

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