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Why is it that every guy I see lately is walking around with this confused, anxious and afraid look? Could it be that it’s the middle of February, and we’re all out of romantic ideas, not to mention cash? Flowers, chocolates, a mix CD, a poem, a card, a song perhaps. In the brotherhood of dating men, we understand each other’s pain in fear of Valentine’s Day expectations. Especially if you went over the top last year. What could possibly top that hot air balloon ride or an apartment filled with rose petals? So guys, I’ll share with you my plan this year for a laid back Valentine’s Day. And if you happen to be reading this and you are my fiancée, you’re not supposed to be here. Go do your homework or something and stop ruining your surprise (she probably stopped reading after I said I wasn’t filling her apartment with rose petals anyway).

So this year will consist of four steps:

Scrapbook. Collect all those things you’ve saved. Pictures, ticket stubs, mementos, love letters, emails, etc. Go to an art store and buy a scrapbook, some paint, glue-sticks, scissors and all the other good stuff. Pop in a romantic CD and make it together. She’ll probably take control, but maybe she’ll let you cut something out.

Dinner. While you get your scrapbook on, make her dinner. I suggest homemade pizza. Yeah, it’s cheap. Whatever you do, no matter how big the temptation, do not—I repeat—do not mold the dough into the shape of a heart.

Movie. So while you eat your (inevitably heart-shaped) pizza, why not watch a classic romance? A few titles to get you started:

The John Cusack collection: The Sure Thing (a huge favorite of mine), Hi Fidelity or Serendipity (This love story was SO lame I saw it three times.)

The Woody Allen romances: Annie Hall (my favorite film, a sad and poignant look at a July to September romance. Beat Star Wars for best picture in 1977), Manhattan (It has been described as “Woody Allen’s Valentine to New York,” and quite a love story, too.), Sweet and Lowdown or Purple Rose of Cairo.

Tom (and Meg): Big (Tom without Meg), Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally (Meg without Tom), You’ve got Mail (See “classics” for the original), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (It’s in this category since Tom’s wife discovered last year’s word-of-mouth hit).

Foreign Films (score some bonus points, guys): (A disclaimer: Foreign films can be more, shall we say, romantic, than American ones. You may want to preview these first.) Breathless (Rent the original, not the 80’s Richard Gere remake. Story of a woman who falls in love with a thief and joins him on a car stealing fugitive adventure. Important film in the French New Wave movement.), La Dolce Vita (“The sweet life.” Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece of an Italian journalist and the film star he falls for),Amelie, Like Water for Chocolate (Love changes everything for a couple in Mexico. Directed by Alfonso Arau.), Chocolat.

The Classics: City Lights (Charlie Chaplin’s finest silent film, and my second favorite movie. 1931 story of the tramp character trying to help a blind girl he has fallen in love with), The Shop Around the Corner (The original film to You’ve Got Mail), An Affair to Remember, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Casablanca (Arguably the most romantic movie of all time. She won’t be the only one crying.)

Favorites: Roxanne (Steve Martin stars in this hilarious retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac.), Princess Bride, Kissing a Fool, So I Married an Axe Murderer, As Good as it Gets.

The Underdogs: If Lucy Fell (Independent film with Ben Stiller, Elle McPherson, Eric Schaeffer and Sara Jessica Parker. Two Friends make a pact to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if they don’t find true love in one month.), 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Benny and Joon

If either of you are crazy: Harold and Maude (a bizarre and suicidal love story between a twenty-year-old kid and an eighty-year-old woman who meet at a funeral), A Woman Under the Influence (Directed by the father of independent film, John Cassavetes, this largely improvised film stars Peter Faulk and Gena Rowlands. A man struggles to love his alcoholic wife. A staggering portrait of love in hard times—maybe not the most romantic Valentine’s Day film, but a staggering tale of a man who will fight for his wife.), Through a Glass Darkly (See above description, add some Swedish subtitles and a mentally disturbed woman who thinks she is visited by God. This film, directed by the great Ingmar Bergman, takes it’s title from the love passage in First Corinthians.)

Good luck, men. And if you take her to Just Married or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, don’t tell me about it. But be sure to post the results here!

RELATED LINK:

VALENTINE’S DAY PLAN OF ATTACK

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