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Ah, Romance! It Takes A Lot Of Pretending
Valentine's Day. That unfortunate time of the year when the American male is driven by forces beyond his control to be something he is not - romantic.
No other occasion, not the birthday, not the always tricky wedding anniversary, compels the American male to act in a manner that is so fundamentally contrary to his basic nature.
In reality, the American male's idea of romance can be summed up in those five little words:
Slam. Bam. Thank. You. Ma'am.
Anything beyond that is as alien as the notion of sharing feelings.
But if this is true, then how does one explain such seemingly contradictory behavior as candlelight dinners, red roses, the purchasing of things that sparkle?
The answer is really quite simple - Pavlov.
Through trial and a lot of error, the American male has learned that the response to such stimuli as food, flowers and costly gifts is often very pleasant.
That said, what the American male has never grasped, and will never ever grasp, is the underlying rationale. It's a lot like housebreaking a dog. Old Rover can be trained not to lift his leg indoors, but he will never understand why.
It is widely assumed that dealing with the intricacies of Valentine's Day becomes easier with age. In fact, the opposite is true.
If experience teaches us anything, it is that the older the American male gets, the harder it is for him to escape the day's lacey noose.
This is particularly true when the recipient of the aging American male's Valentine's Day token of affection approaches the intersection of provocative and practical.
Surely, there is nothing more ticklish than determining at what point to make the gift transition from scanty attire to George Foreman Grill.
Not surprisingly, Valentine's Day has also always been the ultimate test of the American male's ability to function under extreme pressure.
What is truly remarkable is just how often he is able - through a combination of fast-talking and fancy footwork - to escape the day's mushy minefield.
On the other hand, when plans go awry and fate turns and luck runs out, the consequences can be devastating.
Perhaps the most famous example of this syndrome is the infamous 1929 Valentine's Day Massacre.
Although it is generally believed this crime was rooted in gangland conflict, that is not the whole story.
What also set the tommy guns to talking that cold Chicago day involved a frazzled American male mobster, an unhappy moll and a skimpy red teddy gone terribly wrong.