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Valentine's Day just not meant for men

Guys, it seems, just don't get Valentine's Day. There have been a number of theories about why this is. One is that you don't get the day off from work, so it's not like it's a real holiday anyway. Of course, you can also argue that men lose sight of it because of its proximity to Super Bowl Sunday, which is generally chalked up as poor planning on the part of the people who originally scheduled Valentine's Day.

But the prevailing notion is that it is because Valentine's Day is considered the most romantic day of the year by many people ,and guys, in general, have difficulty dealing with romance issues, despite those issues being patiently and repeatedly explained in excruciating detail to them by wives, girlfriends, etc. (known collectively as non-guys), usually when it's third down and long and the only response any true male can come up with is something like: "Sure, get to it right away - next commercial."

The truth is guys do want to do right, but many just missed out on the romance gene. And they'd like to ask their particular non-guy for advice, but they know they'll have to go through that whole, long "you just didn't listen, now did you" speech first, which means the conversation simply can't be contained within the halftime break, much less a routine commercial.

And to avoid that fate, some guys will do just about anything, including solicit advice from a newspaper columnist, which, conveniently enough, leads us to our first question.

DEAR JIM,

So, who was the Official Biggest Dufus of the Month for January - TV preacher Pat Robertson for his heavenly smiting of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, or New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for his heavenly smiting of the United States with hurricanes?

SMITTEN

DEAR SMITTY,

Thanks for the question. Really. Thanks. Here I am, trying to run a lovelorn column, help a few folks through perilous romantic issues, and the first question I get is - oh, well.

Actually, none of the above. Commentator Ann Coulter gets the nod for suggesting last month in a speech at a Little Rock, Ark., university that the cure for what ails the U.S. Supreme Court would be somebody slipping a little rat poisoning into Justice John Paul Stevens' creme brulee, then pointing out to the media that her comment was intended to be a joke.

Hmm, maybe we'd better check with Pat and Ray. It could be that Coulter's sense of humor was what actually got smote.

•n n

DEAR JIM,

I'm taking my lady out to a fine-dining establishment. I don't think they even have a buffet line at night. Anyway, I want to impress her by confidently picking out a great wine. Suggestions?

THIRSTY

DEAR DRINK UP,

I can't recommend a particular wine for fear of adversely impacting the entire wine industry. The mere mention of a certain wine in a column as influential as this could cause a run on the market, resulting in a dire shortage and escalating costs.

I kid you not. Gas only cost about $1.35 a gallon when I went and let it slip in a previous column that I use 87 octane, and you saw what happened after that. I'm still feeling a little guilty about how all the blame for high gas prices is being cavalierly directed at President Bush, profiteering oil companies, OPEC, manufacturers of gas-guzzlers, people who drive gas-guzzlers, hurricanes that smite oil rigs in the Gulf and other various innocent parties.

But I guess I can still give you some hints that will allow you to make a foolproof wine selection. First, when you ask for a good wine, they always try to pawn off a bottle of some old stuff that's been sitting around for a while. Don't fall for it. Make sure they bring you a fresh bottle.

Second, don't just sniff the bottle cap once the waiter twists it off. Insist on a free sample that you can swish around like mouthwash, thus demonstrating your culture and discerning palate.

Finally, never mix a fine wine with a dark cola. That's simply not done in polite circles. You should always use something clear, like Sprite or 7-Up - provided I haven't just sent their costs through the roof.

•n n

DEAR JIM,

Forget gas prices. Have you seen how much roses cost lately? Sheesh!

THORNY PROBLEM

DEAR OUCH,

Sorry. I mention one time in a column that it's my favorite Valentine flower and Boom!

•n n

DEAR JIM,

So, Mr. Romance, why don't husbands ever listen to their wives?

YOUR WIFE

DEAR DEAR,

Sure, get to it right away - next commercial.

Jim Hendricks is editor of the Albany Herald. E-mail him at jim.hendricks@albanyherald.com.