Valentine's: The Gentleman's Boot Camp

In the film Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, the character of Joel Barish (played by Jim Carrey) opens up with, in my opinion, one of the greatest first lines of a movie I've seen:
"Random thoughts for Valentine's day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap." 
Priceless.  And while St. Cupid's sacred day has been described with many more atrocious labels such as Single Awareness Day and Woman's Second Christmas, the fact remains that this holiday perhaps more than any other can make or break a man.  It is the Gentleman's Boot Camp, the single day that decides whether you earn your stripes as a Romantic First Class or receive the Dishonorable Discharge to the Doghouse for the remainder of your service.  It is a day not easily skirted and harder to dodge than a squadron of B-52s.  And for those of you who plan to merely sit it out in the trenches and quench the flamethrowers of the Jerries (or Sherri's, or Mary's) with a painfully cheap bouquet and year-old chocolates...I'm afraid, my friend, you're already on your way to the infirmary.

However, there is a way to turn this potentially hazardous holiday into a victory for the modern gentleman (or VV Day).  What's the trick?  You have to put aside everything you want, and treat your girl like absolute royalty.  It's possible, believe me, and to quote William Faulker: "A gentleman can live through anything."  So, here are a few steps to ensure this Valentine's Day your lady is escorted by a true modern gentleman.

STEP 1: It's the Details that Make the Gentleman.
Just because you are rising above the common man for this occasion doesn't mean you should skimp on the details.  As Valentine's this year is on a Monday, start early, such as on the Friday before, and send some flowers to her work.  Skip the cheesy "I Heart You" bears and "Be Mine" candies and go for a simple and elegant bouquet of her favorite flowers or roses.  If you go through an online florist, be careful.  Find the right one that ensures the flowers arrive in great condition, pre-assembled, so she's not fumbling to arrange them as her clients are walking in the door.   Another option is ordering them from a local florist.  It's a little more expensive, but you'll ensure she won't be delivered a fragrant cardboard box at 4:58 in the afternoon.

STEP 2:  Get Away.
Take the Mrs. downtown or outta town.  Many hotels and resorts have great Valentine's weekend specials that allow couples the chance to get away from it all.  Book a one or two night stay at a hotel with a personality (as a general rule avoid those that offer payment by the hour).  Many downtown hotels in larger cities (such as the Hotel Icon in Houston, TX pictured above) offer an unparalleled romantic atmosphere where you almost feel disrespectful not wearing a tuxedo to walk down and ask for more towels.  Booking is for the patient and computer savvy gentleman, as one must wait for the perfect moment.  But when you do, you can expect a great adventure for your dollar.

STEP 3:  Take the Night Out.
Once you've unpacked and "settled" into the room, get dressed up for a mysterious and romantic night out.  Remember, it's all about your girl, so never be afraid to be the best dressed man in the room at your destination.  Her eyes are on you.  Keep the mystery by never telling her where the next adventure may be.  A nice restaurant, followed by her favorite type of show or entertainment (musical theater, concert, movie, jazz club--whatever she's passionate about).  After that, a nice corner coffee shop or dessert place.  Simple girl, simple night.  But don't be afraid to try some new things and live out your new downtown high-life fantasy for a night.  Treat your girl like the royal lady she is, and I guarantee you'll be the most dapper man in town.

Additional "Tip":
Always remember to have cold, hard currency for tips.  In the modern world of debit cards and PayPal, it's easy to forget to grab some bills for the valet or downtown parking.  Don't get caught looking like a country fish in a city pond (horrible attempt at a country analogy).  Make it look effortless.  That is, after all, one of the best qualities of the stylish gentleman.     

Finally, always keep in mind the likes and dislikes of your woman.  These steps are merely guidelines and general suggestions.  If your girl doesn't like flowers, try something more practical like one of those fruit bouquets.  If your girl's afraid of traveling, don't drug and drag her to a hotel, just set up a nice romantic dinner on your rooftop or porch.  Going to the Cheesecake Factory and then to a night of disco revival?...don't wear your tuxedo.  You get the picture.  Plan and modify her perfect Valentine' HER.  Do that, and you're sure to pass the Gentleman's Boot Camp relatively unscathed.  You might even be awarded a Purple Heart, but I'd stay away from those things.....they taste like chalk.


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