Three musings on life, lust and labors of love

plus five unique gifts for your Valentine

What she says she wants is different from the real scoop By Grant Ritter

Valentine's Day means many things to many people. It proved to be an educational experience for me two years ago. What is the lesson I learned? Just because a female tells you what she wants for Valentine's Day doesn't necessarily mean she is telling you what she "really" wants. The real answer is transmitted through some subconscious vibe that males are incapable of receiving. For those of you who have believed your girlfriend's "I don't want anything" statements, you can easily learn something I found out the hard way.

A few weeks before Valentine's Day, I ignorantly asked my girlfriend what she wanted for our first Valentine's Day together and I planned to get whatever she asked for.

"I just want ice cream," she said.

Although I shouldn't have believed she would want something other than a precious metal or valuable stone, I was amazed at her apparent appreciation for thought and not material possessions. Over the next few weeks, I continued to ask her what she wanted, just to be sure. I received the same answer.

Finally the big day arrived. We would exchange gifts first, then go out to dinner like most couples do. When I unwrapped several DVDs , I knew that pint of black raspberry would not quite do the trick. After unveiling the frozen gift, I was definitely catching the "How could you think I was serious?" look and picking up the "You're the cheapest person I know!" vibe.

I suppose that I should have known she was kidding about wanting ice cream. Thankfully I will never forget that, since I get to hear about the "ice cream incident" every time the word "gift" comes up. This prime example of miscommunication didn't detract from her outstanding character, though, and we have been able to enjoy a more pleasant Valentine's Day since. A word to the wise: Question what you are told, for truth is not always skin deep.

Time, not money, is the key to a successful Valentine's By Agatha Tomasik

In the third century, early Christians, like the witches of early America, suffered persecution for practicing a condemned religion. Additionally, during wartime, emperors prohibited marriage under the pretense that young men should serve as soldiers rather than as husbands. A daring young priest named Valentine, in typical youthful rebellion, responded by performing marriages for young couples - and in the name of Jesus! While imprisoned, patron saint of love-to-be Valentine allegedly grew enamored with his jailor's daughter and wrote her a love letter, ending it with "From Your Valentine," moments before his life ended.

Two centuries later, as Christians were schooling Roman pagans in religious persecution and inhumane torture, Pope Gelasius honored a martyred priest with a holiday in his name. Additionally, he dutifully and expediently "purified" a pesky pagan festival dubbed "Lupercalia," a name sillier than "Gelasius" or even "Agatha." Ever since, the blessed feast of St. Valentine has annually compelled traditionally violent Westerners into making like balls of smoked gouda and being cheesy.

Originally founded on the spirit of love and rebellion, St. Valentine's Day has recently dropped the pious implications of "Saint" like a neglected baby, and today bears an oft-demonized dedication to consumerism and reinforcement of gender roles. Stores heartily display enough chocolate to clog many an artery and enough bright pink and red to induce epilepsy. Our public education system, too, pays homage to the martyred saint. Perhaps a preparation for inevitable, random confessions of love in their adult years, young children exchange campy, celebrity-themed Valentine's Day cards with their classmates. Upon emotional and sexual maturation, a socially prescribed incentive to consume awaits, and the omnipresent presence of pink hearts encourage young women to desperately find a "special someone," while disheartened men surrender to the cultural pressure. Nevertheless, the circulatory system has never seemed so cheery!

Throughout the year, holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day remind most people that their existence will be inconsequential while festively honoring pioneers in socio-political progress, encouraging others to emulate their courage. Indeed, Valentine's Day serves as a delightfully profitable holiday for elusive, wicked "big businesses" that revel in women's insecurities about their relationships - but the day symbolizes a devotion to civil liberties and love.

Inarguably, rather than bitterly griping about the holiday's unfortunate consumer-driven nature or angrily referring to unnecessarily verbose feminist philosophers, one most effectively protests the corporate hijacking of Valentine's Day by spending the day with one's own "Valentine" without spending any money. Complaining about "big business" has become a clich?d novelty, and no one likes feminists, especially angry ones. As Eric Clapton sings, "Love is lovely." And so, my angered hippie readers, spend not money, but only time with a loved one on the ides of February.

A rose is a rose, but the quantity in which they're given matters most By Michael Valleubuona

Roses mysteriously become worth their weight in bling. The aisles of CVS are decked in so much red that you naively question a resurgence in 1950s pinko liberalism. And an inescapable sense of despondency - you know, the kind you always seem to feel around Christmas and when your mom forgets your birthday again - surrounds you. It's Valentine's Day, my friends. But this year, things are going to be different.

That's because you'll be giving your heart away to the right person. Surprisingly, the right person isn't always your bitchy, domineering girlfriend or drippy, miserable boyfriend who should have been dumped two months ago. In fact, the person who deserves a rose could be right under your nose! Just choose from the list below, because, frankly, whom else did you really have in mind?

1. The person with a fake ID who buys you alcohol.

What greater candidate exists for the object of your affection than your connection to booze? Like the brave martyr for whom we celebrate Valentine's Day, this saintly soul ventures bravely into hostile territory, performing good deeds at great consequence - namely, misdemeanor charges of fraudulent identification and underage drinking. It's a tough job, but some unattractive loser has to do it if he seriously expects to make any friends on this campus.

How many roses to buy: One dozen seems fair.

2. The guys who grill chicken at TDR.

The cooks at TDR seem to seize every opportunity for a special holiday-inspired menu. So this Saturday, expect Mongolian Bovine Heart or some other equally abortive culinary disaster. Fortunately, the grill guys have got your back. Multiple times throughout the day, they grill fresh batches of easily identifiable thus appealing chicken to save the weak-stomached from Grade D beef or some derivative thereof. It's a social service worthy of undying praise - or, at the very least, your heart.

How many roses to buy: None. The newly renovated TDR has enough foliage for a junta reunion.

3. The person you're screwing on the side.

Sure, it's not true love. In fact, it's more like adulterous, clandestine, hastily delivered love. But after the obligatory dinner with your other, less desirable half ends and the requisite roses have been handed over, don't forget to visit that dorm-wrecking floozy down the hall. After your real girlfriend finds out, she'll be all you have!

How many roses to buy: No roses for the lucky lady. But it might be a nice gesture to stick around at least until she puts her clothes back on before you awkwardly whip out some excuse about having to get back to your homework or something.

4. Janet Jackson's right breast.

If you're alone this Valentine's Day, as many of us are, pay homage to a continuous replay of Janet's mammary malfunction - any way you see fit.

Five unique things to get your significant other By Rachel Cothran

Just in case you're stumped for quality romantic ideas for this Valentine's weekend, here are a few to ponder.

1. Romantic wine-filled weekend

From February 13-15, take your lover out of town for a romantic weekend in Virginia's wine country. The Blue Ridge WineWay Valentine's Weekend goes from 11 a.m.-5p.m. each day this weekend, and you can visit as many participating wineries as you like. Attendance at each winery's tasting party will run anywhere from free to $15; most are just $5 and no reservations are required. Go to or call 1 (800) 820-1021.

2. Sweet, sincere treats

Stop by Cake Love on U Street and buy her Venus bars, delicious sweet treats (made with ganache, chocolate, meringue, and other yummy ingredients) to give to your love goddess. $5 each. Cake Love is at 1506 U St. NW, between 15th and U. Call (202) 588-7100.

3. Dine out

Discover why oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac. Stop in at Oceanaire to try their dozen or so varieties. 1201 F St. NW. Call (202) 347-2277.

4. Death by chocolate

It's true - you can never go wrong with chocolate. A taster for a Washingtonian article on Kron Chocolatiers in February 2000 called their Cream Truffle "sex in a square." 'Nuff said. Kron Chocolatiers, 5300 Wisconsin Ave. at Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights. Call (202) 966-4946.

5. Strip games

Appeal to his competitive side with games like Dirty Darts, Strip Chocolate and Strip Poker. They can be sent last-minute for delivery on Saturday.

Cost: $15-30, not including shipping.

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