Brothers battle the vices of Valentine’s Day

by Dave Morain and Matt Morain

Valentine’s Day is upon us yet again. Women wait with bated breath; men purge their pocketbooks. It’s a vicious cycle. Guys throw down thirty or forty dollars (or more, depending on your chances of getting a said girl into bed) without so much as flinching, but why?

Why does St. Valentine get his own holiday? Moreover, why do men have to pay for it? After some thorough research, we have deduced two historical possibilities.

The first is that St. Valentine was a third century priest that performed secret marriages for young Romans even after Emperor Claudius II forbade able bodied men from nuptial vows, forcing them to enlist in the army. The second prospect is that St. Valentine was a seventh century greeting card maker who preferred sheep to women.

Either way, this Valentine guy has doomed all males to a life bonded in buying heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and stuffed animals that cost 32 times what they cost to make.

Girls love Valentine’s Day for many reasons. For one, it makes them feel special. This is particularly important to girls who are not special in any way. Even these girls get Hallmark cards and Hy-Vee gift certificates from their parents. For those who receive things from significant others, the suspense of what they could get is often more exciting than when they actually do receive it.

During this time, visions of bouquets of roses and diamond pendants dance in their heads. Their warped perceptions of Valentine’s gifts make them drunk with anticipation.

The gifts received by the female gender can be easily misconstrued as harbingers of doom for the relationship. Approach flowers like Groundhog’s Day. If the flowers wilt in a week so, too, will the relationship. Jewelry exchanged can represent a partner’s intrinsically shallow nature. Gaudy baubles bestowed upon a loved one can ultimately be a commercialistic detriment to the bond that you either share or hope to share.

Chocolates are the “Janus” of Valentine’s Day gifts. They constitute a double-edged sword, as they might make your woman plump and portly. However, this new rotund version of the girl you once longed for won’t run quite as fast as she once did. If you had trouble catching her before, those empty calories in every bite of cream-filled goodness should increase your chances of successfully bagging her tenfold. Of course, she could feel the chubby hand of guilt and refuse to eat any of the candy. Hey, more for you.

Men look at Valentine’s Day the same way your dog looks at your answering machine: Intrigued but ultimately and sincerely frightened. You can tell how excited or dejected a guy is depending on how he has marked it on his calendar. If he has a heart around Feb. 14, he needs to file a report with security because someone stole his manhood.

If Valentine’s Day is marked by a skull and crossbones the guy is either very apprehensive about getting a gift, single with a burning hatred whenever love is glorified, possibly even a homicidal maniac that has combined a picture of Sandra Day O’ Connor with a vacuum to create the woman of his dreams. Finally, we have the guy that marks Valentine’s Day the way most of us do: What mark?

By nature, when we are backed into a corner, men are prone to either the fight or flight response just like our ancestors. We can fight (“You want a gift? I’ll give you a gift”) or flight (“Honey, my cousin’s cat got leukemia. I have to fly to Pittsburgh.”) Either way the girl is going to be disappointed.

Nothing short of actually giving her the deed to the world will ever live up to her expectations of what you might be getting her. Face it, Chuckles, you just can’t win. That’s why we have compiled a list of Valentine’s ideas that are practical and efficient.

1. If you resort to giving food, give healthy alternatives to candy. A bag of oranges can combat scurvy, broccoli improves complexion, and a dozen carrots fortified with vitamin A to help her see. If you’re going to see each other, you might as well be able to “see” each other.

2. Get a large hatbox and a small ring box from your local jeweler. When she opens the big box, she will find 50 ounces of Tide (with or without bleach) and in the ring box there will be six quarters. Tell her that you love her enough to let her do your laundry. She’ll either both laugh and say that you’re funny or slap you and tell you to make your mom do your laundry. Either way, the laundry gets done.

3. Since Valentine’s Day is set in the dead of winter, get her weather stripping. She might call you dull and unoriginal, but she’ll be thanking you when her heating bill drops by 33 percent. You can even apply it yourself, thus showing her your ability to “strip”. She might just return the favor.

4. Get her two tickets to the Final Four in March, especially if she hates basketball. If she doesn’t like the gift, tell her that you at least tried. Give the extra ticket to your buddy and have a good time at the basketball tournament.

5. If all else fails, take her out to dinner. If the food is bad, blame it on the cook. If the service is bad, blame it on the waiter. You can’t lose. At the end of your meal, tell your server that you want apple cobbler, but to make sure that he takes all of the apple slices out because your girlfriend is allergic. This should allow you enough time to skip out on the bill and run to your car. Happy Valentine’s Day!