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The following is a basic guide to Valentine's Day survival for men:

STEP ONE: The minimum requirement is to let the woman know you care. The least expensive way is to look at her -- preferably somewhere on her face -- and say, "I love you, [her name here]." If you forget her name, don't bother with the rest of the steps. You're dead.

STEP TWO: A Valentine card is an acceptable nonverbal token of appreciation. Best of all, it's cheap. Good Valentines are pink with lots of lace and have cute words such as "I'll love my sugar bunny forever and ever and ever and ... " Bad Valentine cards say, "Good for one free quart of motor oil."

STEP THREE: Candy. For some scientific reason that makes no sense, women regard chocolate the same way men view beer. While a handful of M&Ms is OK, women tend to expect something a bit nicer. Wrapped for starters.

STEP FOUR: Jewellery. A bit pricier, especially if you did not bother with steps 1-3. If you did, you might get by with a small but hideously expensive ring, necklace, or tiara. Keep in mind most women, even in Utah, do not consider aluminium, tin or a Mylar balloon to be a precious metal.

STEP FIVE: Lingerie. Be careful. Not only does it have to be the right size and caliber, it must also match any of the 8 billion feelings she currently has about herself. To be safe, tell the clerk you're looking for something that can't be used to strangle you in your sleep.

STEP SIX: Romantic getaways are good for couples with more than .002 kids. Studies prove that not even bacteria can reproduce when a toddler is beating on the bedroom door with a Fisher-Price toy. Depending on the size of your family, the romantic getaway may have to cross at least three international boundaries.

STEP SEVEN: Unlike men, women give points for trying. So do something. Anything is better than nothing. If you don't believe me, I can show you last year's knot on the back of my head.
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