Valentine’s Day 2011


A woman arrives home and sees the present wrapped and waiting on the kitchen table. Her significant other is standing proud, grinning ear to ear like some geek who has the answer to Final Jeopardy. She can’t figure out what it could be because it looks like a long pole with some kind of lump at the bottom.

It’s certainly not the box of Russell Stover candy or carnations he bought at the convenience store last year. “Don’t even try to guess,” he brags, “cause you’ll never get it. I’ll just say this, it’s funny and useful at the same time.”‘ Hmm, this is sounding worse by the second. She unwraps it and is truly speechless. It’s a pole alright, with a metal heart attached to the bottom. He shouts, “IT’S A VALENTINE’S HOE. For the garden. You know, a hoe for my….” Don’t finish that sentence unless you want to sleep on the couch for the next decade. Her mind goes back to Jeopardy, “I’ll take Worse Valentine’s Gift Ever for $500 Alex.”

It is February. Time to set our hearts a flutter and our minds on buying something special for that someone special. Before you ask, yes they really do sell a heart-shaped hoe. Guys, don’t do it. It’s been awhile since Cupid shot me in the backside with one of his arrows, but I’ve caught the love bug a time or two and I’d like to think I have a clue when it comes to romance. To that end, I thought it might be fun to give some advice to guys and gals on how to thrive and survive during this month of love.

If you’re in a healthy relationship – good for you. If you’re in a bad relationship and are thinking about getting out – too bad. I’m not saying you can’t grab a parachute and jump, just not this month. Unless you are going to offer to cover the co-pays on the therapy he or she will inevitably need, you cannot dump someone right around Valentine’s Day. It’s your own fault – you had a very small window between New Year’s Day and January 20th to get the dirty deed done, but you were either lazy or chicken so you are stuck now my friend. Suck it up and hang in there until March 1st.

Oh, and when you do decide to break up you cannot do it over a text message. I know the phrase, “It’s not you it’s me,” only takes up 20 characters with the spaces included, but it’s lame. If you want to pull a Jerry McGuire and meet them in a public place so they can’t cause a scene, okay, but no electronic devices should be employed here. Man-up, look them in the eye and as Larry The Cable guy says, “Get er done.” But not until March.

If you’re in a fantastic relationship I’m happy for you, but you are not allowed to flaunt it this month. Trust me, you are surrounded by people who are miserable and if they see you getting a huge flower bouquet TWICE in two weeks they are going to pour bleach into the vase when you’re not looking. And women, you can’t refer to your man as ‘my fiancé’ more than once a week. The single women who haven’t been asked to the big dance yet can see the two carrot diamond on your hand; they don’t need verbal confirmation every time you open your mouth. He has a name, use it.

Guys, I know you feel this whole holiday is a scam invented by Hallmark and Zales to fleece you out of your beer money, but let’s be brutally honest here: you found someone willing to put up with your hunting, burping and six hours of ESPN every day, so a trip to the mall once a year is a small price to pay. That said, do not get her something stupid.
We’ve already covered the garden hoe, here are a few more gifts on the no-no list: a treadmill, workout dvd’s or anything that says, “Gosh honey, there really is more of you to love and I’d like to help.” Don’t help. Don’t think. Jewelry, a day at the spa or a gift card to her favorite restaurant with the promise that you will shower before and not stare at the cute waitress once you arrive. You also cannot pick a table where you can see the TV over the bar behind her head. I don’t care if the Superbowl is on. She has eyes, look at them.

You will not get her a vacuum, blender or any kitchen item. If she specifically asks for some cool new gadget, get her that AND the flowers and candy. Stay out of Victoria’s Secret. That’s something she should buy for herself, and odds are you’d only pick something that is so skimpy NOTHING will be kept a secret.

Women, trust me when I tell you the guy in your life doesn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day. Well, nothing you could buy in a store. Wink, wink. If you insist on shopping, ask yourself this simple question: can he eat it or throw it? If the answer is yes, you’re all set. Examples: beer, wings, beer, a frisbee, football, beer. If you’re still at a loss might I suggest beer?

If you are single, alone and sitting at home torturing yourself by listening to Michael Buble on an endless loop, I feel your pain. But remember the words that redheaded brat Annie taught us, “It’s a hard knock life.” No, the other ones. “The sun will come out tomorrow.” It’s true. And take solace in the fact that half your friends in relationships are jealous because you are single and the other half will stop oozing with love soon enough because February is mercifully the shortest month of the year.
If you found your ‘soul mate’, good for you. If, as Buble says, “You just haven’t met them yet,” I say take yourself out shopping for a great new outfit. Clear a Saturday on the schedule, grab a gal pal and treat yourselves to a day at the spa. And my best advice, friend to friend: stop trying so hard. Finding love is often like locating a set of lost car keys. Just when you stop looking, that’s when you reach into a coat pocket and say, “Wow, there you are. Where have you been all this time?”

John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at


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