FREE VALENTINE ADVIC

Hello, lovers young and old. Was 14th February good for you?After all the anticipation, the tension, the commercialism and the hype, was Valentine’s Day worth it?If you’re feeling a little used today, you’re not alone. Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark” holiday, a sham.Year after year, poor besotted (or simply obligated) lovers throw themselves into this mass hysteria, buying up silly trinkets and flocking to mediocre restaurants, and for what? To declare their love, on the same day as everyone else, all because the calendar says so?Let’s get this straight: V-Day was created to sell cards, dinners and flowers and to allow couples to feel superior to single people (who have lots more fun the rest of the year).I say anyone who buys into it is crazy. Roses priced at $60 a dozen. Cheesy gifts. Restaurant “specials” consisting of mass-cooked rubber chicken with some sort of gooey chocolate dessert at the end.This is romantic?Yet, judging by reports that most major restaurants in town were already fully booked by last Thursday,- some a week or two before that, even. a lot of folks out there haven’t got the message.So I’m breaking out a brand-new weapon. For your consideration, please, a new magazine: Mars and Venus. That’s right, it’s the brainchild of self-help guru John Gray, the man who brought us Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and all its million-dollar sequels, and its “preview issue” landed on news-stands just in time for V-Day.Gray, as most Earthlings know, propagates the cutesy theory that men and women can’t communicate because we’re from different planets – but if we learn to accept each other’s alien ways, love will triumph.And in Gray’s world of male-female stereotypes, Valentine’s Day is the most important day of the year.He instructs us that women (or, in Gray’s parlance, Venusians), are all Valentine addicts who must be ministered to every Feb. 14. Men, he says, ignore this at their peril.”You owe it to your wife,” he says.”It is the day that can make the difference to the rest of the year.NEGLECTED AND UNLOVED?”Quite often during the span of a year, a woman will feel neglected and unloved, but she is able to suspend her disappointment. If he shows his love on Feb. 14, then she finds it easy to let go of all the resentment.”Ladies, are you going to take this? Hang on, it’s not just women who are made to feel like saps. Here’s Gray’s advice for us, when our poor man still doesn’t live up to the hype: “Try to remember that he is from Mars and is doing his best.”The mag goes on like that, with one article gushing: “How many women expect love and kisses wrapped in hearts and flowers on Valentine’s Day? Every single one of us.” (Hello?) “Men,” it adds, “can be trained to get in the proper spirit.”On shopping for the all-important Valentine gift, contributor Lynn Shnurnberger writes, “The whole point of Valentine’s Day is to prove your love.” (Gee, not much pressure there, eh? And you thought it was just to prove you could find the last heart shaped box of chocolates in town.)There’s also step-by-step instructions on how to write a love letter (warning to anyone who received a letter beginning: “Have I told you lately that I love you? If not, allow me to make up for lost time…”- your lover’s a plagiarist).And to top it off, there’s a helpful calendar that schedules loving gestures for rest of the month. Mark these down:On Feb. 20: “Martians: As she walks by, whisper in her ear just how much you love her.” On Feb. 24, “Venusians: thank him for everything he does.” On Feb. 27: “Martians: empty the dishwasher without being asked.”Had enough? You say you’re not one of these lemmings in love, you really do have your own romantic imagination?Beautiful. Start a romantic revolution.Lovers of the world, unite – or should I say, disperse. Refuse to be dictated to by card companies and magazines.This is the first day of your post-Valentine life. Resolve that next year, you will in fact prove and celebrate your love. But you’ll choose your first date anniversary, the day you learned you’d be parents, the day you first met, the day you first kissed … any day but Feb. 14.Forget the rest of the world. It’ll be your secret. Trust me, the flowers will be fresher, the food will be tastier, and the mood will be, well, yours alone to create. Isn’t that romantic?