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Scouring the Net for Valentine's Day Surprises

by Jon F. Merz (

Valentine's Day.

 Two simple words that make otherwise sane people hate the month of February. After all, no other holiday has more built-in pressure, what with finding a date, gifts and oozing untold amounts of love and affection.  You'd have an easier time scratching your back with your lips.

 In order to fully appreciate Valentine's Day duress, you need someone special in your life.  If you don't, head over to and sign up for a free trial personal ad. So far, more than 2.5 million people have used the service (although they don't tell you how many have been successful).  It's a user-friendly site that boasts fast turnaround time. Or cruise over to and you'll find a host of links to personal ads, do's and don'ts, and various other romantic trivia.  Compose your ad and wait for the responses.  Don't be picky.  Even if they're not Miss Right, they may well be Miss Right Now.

 If you make it past the first date, you'll now need a gift.  The question arises:  should you stick with the traditional dozen roses and/or jewelry path or forge a new gift-giving tradition?  Personally, I've never been one to wager the health of my sex life on a bad gift choice.  But if you are the daring type, here are some ideas.  First off, features gifts such as edible chocolate body paint for $8.99, a rose that plays ``Love Me Tender" for $5.99, and even a digital violin ``Instant Virtuoso" that plays eight different tunes when you draw the bow across the strings. 

 Want to steer clear of anything romantic?  Check out Off the Deep End for a huge selection of crazy Hawaiian shirts, zany toys, and other gifts.

 Maybe the personal ad drained your cash and you need a cheap gift.  How about free?  Head over to Virtual Presents and send your special someone a virtual gift.  They get an email containing a hypertext link that shows a picture of someone's hand with a diamond ring on it or any one of a dozen other pieces of jewelry.  This will definitely earn you a reputation–probably a terrible one.

 And while you're searching for the perfect gift, check out for a collection of the worst pickup lines ever used.

They list them as the best and worst, but after reading several pages, I decided they all fell into the ``worst" category.  Be sure to read the ``Love Mechanic" at this site, an advice column devoted to readers' romantic problems.

Love mechanic may be too kind a term here; most of these relationships seem destined for the junkyard instead.

 Let's talk flowers:  from careful research I've found that a typical rose shrub costs fourteen bucks, and yields at least two dozen flowers.  This leads me to ask why it suddenly costs up to $80 for a dozen long-stem red roses in the first two weeks of February?  I know there is no Anti-Rose Terrorist Group blowing up greenhouses and creating supply problems.  And while florists will attempt to convince you otherwise, you can always find roses on sale February 15th for 10 bucks.  This is why my friend Chuck spends the better part of every Valentine's Day trying to unsuccessfully convince his wife it's actually celebrated on the 15th.

  But since no other flower seems to engender so much passion in people, buy the roses.  And for best buys as well as classy delivery, I'd suggest ROSExpress, from which deliveries are made by tuxedo-clad gentlemen. The company offers excellent prices, even during February, and great nationwide customer service.

 For those planning to pop the question this Valentine's Day (predictable and cliché–which is exactly why I did it), you can head to several places for help.  First for the imagination-impaired or those who think proposing in cyberspace is actually romantic, head to Valentine's Forever.  Fill out a simple form and your proposal can be seen by your beloved and about 30 million other Web surfers.

 Want something unique?  Mark Cappitella handcrafts proposal puzzles that your future betrothed can put together containing the magic question.  He works from photos, drawings, ideas or whatever.  Definitely different and worth a visit .

  Don't have a clue about how to get down on one knee and beg?  Head over to Proposal Planners. You've heard of wedding planners?  These are professional proposal planners.  For a fee, they'll create the most memorable, romantic setting for your big question.  So far, they've planned more than 337 successful proposals.  Be sure to read about past success stories.

  Of course, you'll need a ring, so head over to and brush up on how to buy one, how to read certificates, check diamond grades and more.  Plenty of information presented in an easy-to-use format.  And you can always check out, which tells you at every opportunity that a diamond is a girl's best friend.  Maybe.  But if any of my friends cost me 2-4 grand, they wouldn't be friends.  They'd be the IRS.

 Finally, on a serious note, all this talk of Valentine's Day brings up an important issue.  If you really want to give your heart away to someone, think about becoming an organ donor.  It never costs the donor's family and you can find out all the information you need to become a donor at either or the United Network for Organ Sharing. It takes no time to get started and your selfless act could save the lives of other people who desperately need you.  And when it comes down to it, that's what real love is all about.

 Jon F. Merz is a freelance writer working in Boston, Ma.  His nonfiction has been seen in Ura & Omote Journal, World Rhythm Magazine, and  He has also published more than two dozen short fiction pieces in various national and small press magazines .





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