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Women, please don’t read this. It’s just going to make you mad, and believe me, none of us on the male side of the wonderful dance of love want that. Especially not in February – the month of love.

Okay men, now that we’re alone, I have some advice for you about the upcoming holiday. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “what holiday,” you REALLY need this advice. February 14 is St. Valentines Day. And while that might be a big snoozer to you – it’s not to the lovely creature with whom you share a life. To her, it’s a big deal, and you are expected to get a lovely, meaningful present for her – and to act like you are so very happy to have the pleasure. If you do not get her something appropriate, something that says you are honored to be buying her this lovely gift, there is going to be Hell to pay. As I get ready to celebrate my 80-something Valentine’s Day, I’m going to share a few do’s and don’ts with you. My own little gift toward ensuring world peace.

FIRST: Don’t forget. That is the worst thing you can do. And, don’t let her trick you into anything. Valentine’s Day is a test, and you don’t want to flunk it.

If the lovely lady in your life wakes up one morning and says, “oh Honey, don’t buy me anything for Valentine’s Day, I know how much you love me, and you don’t have to follow some dumb, commercialized holiday rules to prove it,” you’d best be very careful. Because, she’s just talking in lady code. What she really means is, “don’t forget Valentine’s Day on Wednesday, and if you don’t get me something better than my friend’s husband gets her, you’re never going to forget it.”

SECOND: Don’t get her too expensive or too elaborate a present.

This is very important. If Cupid takes hold of you this year, and you decide to go all out, to do something truly amazing, trust me, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life. Sure, you may have this great idea about a horse-drawn carriage, a Gucci purse, precious gems, a new car, or a week in Tahiti, but refuse to be drawn into that trap. Whatever you do this year, you’re going to have to do SOMETHING BIGGER AND BETTER next year. If you do this, there is no going back to a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy. Each year will present a new and bigger challenge. And even if you spend a bunch of time and money trying to top yourself every year, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of ideas, and then you’re cooked.

I’m not saying you should never get your wife or significant other an expensive present. But if you are going to do it, just pick another date – July 14 or maybe October 17. Some obscure date that’s not going to commit you to an ever-escalating yearly repeat.

THIRD: Don’t give her something that’s really a gift for you.

You know what I mean. Sheer lingerie or X-rated board games. And stay the heck away from making cutsie little vouchers for giving her a great massage. Let’s face it, those are all presents from you to you and they all carry an obligation for her to please you. You know it and so does she.

FOURTH: Make sure there is some hint of romance involved in whatever you buy.

It’s got to be something that focuses on love. Not a toaster oven or a vacuum cleaner, or pots and pans. It’s got to be something that says, “I love you, honey,” not, “look you can cook all kinds of things for me with this!”

FIFTH: Make sure you’re not sending an unintended message.

If your lady is  somebody you just like – you know a friend with benefits – don’t get her something that says “I love you so much,” – whether it’s an inflated ballon with a message attached or anything that hints at moving the relationship to a new level. You’ll never worm your way out of that one.

SIXTH: If you fail to heed this timely reminder and you wake up and it’s February 14 and you have nothing to give her. DO NOT go to Starbucks and buy her a coffee mug. It’s like carrying a sign saying you simply don’t care.  Also stay away from the nearest drugstore and your home improvement super store.

Your best bet at this point is to immediately call up her favorite high-end restaurant and make reservations for that night. Then get a little 4-by-5 card and neatly write on it a sweet message about how much you love her and that you wish to celebrate by taking her out to dinner. Then put it in an envelope and draw two little stick people embracing in a heart. If you can find a red pen, use that. It reeks of Valentine’s Day.

It may not work, but it’s certainly worth a try.

FINALLY: The thing about St. Valentines Day is that it really is a retail obligation, which is not based on love or even like. The real answer is to treat your woman with love and respect on all 365 days of the year.

Tell her you love her, thank her for all the little and big things she does for you, and defend her against all enemies – even if you know she is wrong.

– George Lee Cunningham

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