Women love Valentine's Day, and why not? It's all about love and relationships and life's wonderful intangibles. It's also the one holiday each year that validates their Chocophilia and precludes interaction with their mothers.
Men, on the other hand, have a far different and darker view. For them, Valentine's Day is a rigged crapshoot perpetuated by the nation's florists, jewelers and "chocolatiers" to separate us from our hard-earned cash with only slim prospects of a return.
In fact, for those with a Y chromosome, Feb. 14 feels a lot like April 15, only wrapped in big red hearts.
It's not that men are cheap or uncaring. Quite the contrary: Men are cheap and caring. It's just that our classic Valentine's Day disclaimer -- "I don't need a special day to tell you I love you" -- is pretty much the definition of a romantic nonstarter.
Let's face it; women and men want the same thing out of Valentine's Day: a gesture of thoughtfulness and caring unsullied by commerce that stokes the fire between us.
In the spirit of healing a divided nation, here are 10 wonderfully romantic ways that guys can survive and possibly even enjoy this annual "affaire de coeur" without gratuitous spending.
1. Take a romantic hostage. Forget seduction, try abduction. Drop by her workplace midmorning on the Friday before Valentine's Day, blindfold her with her best red scarf, usher her to your car and drive off -- with her boss's prior permission, of course. What to do with your romantic hostage? How about lunch where you had your first date? Or a picnic at the courthouse where you were married? Or a latte at her favorite art museum or bookstore? Then again, there are always romantic possibilities at home.
2. Create a spa-tacular. The only difference between your bathroom and a swank spa is imagination. OK, and maybe a staff of six. Still, chances are you already have the basic ingredients -- water, towels, candles and smelly stuff -- somewhere in the house. All that remains is to combine them to create a relaxing mood for her. First, kill the lights. Next, add as many candles as fire code permits; tea candles are best because they won't tip over. Arrange them at different heights around the room to create a fairyland effect. Warm your towels and robes in the dryer. Add light jazz or New Age music on the sound system, scatter rose petals in the bath, leave a trail of love notes leading from the front door to your private grotto and welcome her with her favorite 'tini.