This is a public service announcement. Men, Valentine’s Day is almost here.

Now, in guy speak, “almost here” means “today” or “darn, I missed it”. Or “darn, I missed it again”. But be forewarned, Valentine’s Day is in five days. And to the woman in your life, five days is “almost here”.

Some men are masters of the art of romance. My brother, David, for instance, buys his wife single red roses, makes cards by hand and takes the kids out so she can enjoy a quiet bubble bath. There’s a term to describe men like this — still married.

But for those of you who are slightly more special-occasion-challenged, here’s a little advice to help you avoid what happened last Valentine’s Day … and you know what that was. I offer The Hinesight Guide to Avoiding V. Day Disaster.

Picture this day as the Super Bowl of romantic occasions. You are the quarterback. How does a quarterback ensure the play gets completed? He doesn’t say, “Um … I’m just going to throw something together with whatever I can grab at Shoppers Drug Mart.” He plans ahead.

Begin with the gift. The gift is vital. But do not stress yourself thinking a gift has to be big or expensive. It just has to be perfect.

You see, to a man, a gift says, “This is a gift.” To a woman, a gift says, “This is how I see you. This is how I feel about you in my deepest most truthful heart of hearts.” The reason women place so much importance on gifts is that we don’t always have any other way of getting that information.

Remember, no woman wants to know you think of her as a red flannel nightgown or new car mats. Instead, look at the kind of thing she buys herself and buy her more of it.

Next, choose where to present the gift. As a rule of thumb, unless you met, had your first date and conceived your first child at a Taco Bell, fast food restaurants do not spell “romance.” Making her dinner will score you big points, particularly if you don’t watch TV while eating or suggest that, since you cooked, she do the washing up.

With a little attention to the playbook, you can run this Valentine’s Day right through the end zone. Or, in woman speak, you won’t be sleeping alone for the next 12 months.

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