Attention guys -- it's time to get ready for Valentine's Day. After all, you don't want a repeat of last year, do you? I didn't think so.
For most men, the very mention of Valentine's Day conjures up memories of a last minute, fruitless shopping expedition followed by a quarrel with their girlfriend or wife. Women, on the other hand, tend to think romantic thoughts: champagne, dining by candlelight, strolling violinists, and an after-dinner brandy in front of a roaring fireplace. This scenario exists only in their fantasies, mind you. After all, they are dating or married to you.
Most women know in their Valentine's Day heart of hearts that the best they can realistically expect is convenience store fare -- a roll of adhesive tape, a pink baby shower balloon or, if they're really lucky, a jumbo bag of potato chips.
Nevertheless, females can't help hoping that someday, preferably in this lifetime, they will enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day interlude. One that doesn't end with the realization that they've been (a) dreaming; (b) watching a movie; or (c) reading a book with Fabio on the cover.
Okay, so we've established that Valentine's Day is unlikely to involve candles, champagne, cognac, fireplaces, violins, Robert Redford and/or Ricky Martin. Still, it doesn't hurt to shoot for at least some of the above. (My personal vote goes to Redford circa 1975.)
Will your beloved appreciate your efforts? Of course she will. Females are flexible, understanding, merciful souls. You don't believe me? Then tell me what she's doing with you.
The key to achieving a romantic Valentine's Day ... or at least surviving it without bodily harm ... is to be aware that it is in fact Valentine's day. This is easier than it sounds; During the two weeks that precede February 14th (that's right -- this year Valentine's Day will fall on February 14th -- shocking isn't it?) it will be impossible to go anywhere without tripping over heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, Valentine's Day flowers, and/or attractive women deploying perfume-spewing weaponry.
Should you buy candy or perfume for your significant other? Good choice, but please proceed with caution. For instance, you'll probably want to avoid any chocolate marked half-off post-Christmas sale, especially if it's labeled "dietetic."
As for perfume, by now you should be very familiar with your wife's/girlfriend's taste. Does she go for spicy scents? Delicate florals? Earthy musk with just a hint of day-two boxer briefs? Hint -- don't buy any scent that reminds you of your mother.
Another tip that Valentine's Day is near is the glut of lingerie catalogues cluttering your mail box. Not to mention the pornographic undergarment ads scattered throughout your daily paper. Red alert: Although it's okay to stash Victoria's Secret catalogues with your Playboy back issues (assuming you don't get caught) lingerie is not a suitable Valentine's gift. Except, perhaps, for you.
Okay, V-Day has finally arrived. You've bought gifts for your loved one and hidden them in a safe place. You even remember where you hid them. And you've thoughtfully made dinner reservations at this year's hot French bistro ... or, at least, the Chinese restaurant down the street.
Now don't get tricked into working late. Or lose track of time during one of those gripping debates about who scored how many points in a game that took place decades ago.
Instead, get yourself home as quickly as possible and into her loving arms. Who knows? After all your hard work, there may even be a payoff.