Prevent an upset Valentine

It is not too early, guys, to start thinking about Valentine’s Day.

You’ll notice I directed that sentence at guys. This is because I am a guy and I know how guys work, and that means I know that 90 percent of guys tend not to think about Valentine’s Day until it is almost too late. Really. Go to any drugstore after 5 p.m. on Feb. 14 and you will see what I mean.

A small horde of panicked men, with eyes bugged and little beads of sweat popping out on their foreheads, will be searching desperately through a picked-over selection of cards for something, ANYTHING, that says “I love you” without being too (a.) cloying, (b.) insulting or (c.) direct. Fistfights are common as two, three or four men simultaneously reach for the last remaining valentine not directed to Mother.

Another group will be duking it out over in the candy aisle as the store’s supply of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate (on display since Jan. 2) dwindles to a precious few, none which has the centers anyone wants.

It’s madness, I tell you. Madness.

And that’s why I’m taking this opportunity to try to get guys moving now instead of waiting until the last minute. I’m trying to avert the calamities and stem the casualties that occur each year, all in the name of love.

I don’t have to say anything to women. In my experience, women always have a pretty firm understanding of how calendars work, and many can see Valentine’s Day coming from quite a way off. See above under Jan. 2.

This is not always a good thing. I dated a woman who considered Valentine’s Day to be Auxiliary Christmas, and expected more than just the usual card-flowers-candy-dinner routine. She wanted loot and was not shy about expressing it, right down to the carat size. That relationship lasted exactly one (1) Valentine’s Day.

Anyway, guys, here are some helpful hints for you as Valentine’s Day approaches:

1. Get two cards, a goopy one and a humorous (but sincere) one. Give them both. That way your bases are covered. If she hates the goopy one you can say it was a joke, and the humorous (but sincere) card is the one that really says how you feel. Or vice versa.

2. If you’re buying candy, get it from a real confectioner. Don’t buy chocolates at a place that also sells motor oil and camouflage baseball caps.

3. Go to a nice restaurant; no drive-through. Make it a place where you have to sit down and use silverware. And no restaurants where the placemats have find-a-word puzzles on them.

4. A single rose is hokey. Especially if it lights up.

5. If you buy gifts that are not jewelry, avoid lingerie. You won’t get the size right, and chances are your idea of what is appropriate (three doilies and some ribbon) is not her idea (something flowing and romantic). You are hearing the voice of experience here, guys. You can save yourself a lot of Valentine’s Day grief by letting Victoria keep her secrets. Besides, who says you can’t give lingerie for the Fourth of July?

That’s it. Good luck and happy shopping. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my own advice before all the humorous (but sincere) cards are gone.