Irregular beats 

Poor Mopey Face. Being single, the chintzy foil Valentine hearts leering from every window this month don't signal love to you, but the lack of it. You're over it. You're done. And you're right.

Valentine's Day is all kinds of wrong for all kinds of reasons. For one thing, if you love someone, you shouldn't need an appointment to show it. For another, how much does a mandated show of love mean? Getting flowers on some random day is sweet. On Feb. 14, you know it's just something else they had to do, like feed the fish and take out the garbage.

Still, there's nothing more better to be in than love (except for a rich person's will). We don't have an "I'm a rich bastard" day or a "Look how I'm gorgeous" day. How come lovers get to gild their big, stinky lily of good fortune so we all have to smell it?

Well, how fortunate are they, really? You've been in love before. Maybe that's why you got out of it. While you listen to your friends complain about their various attachments, does it ever occur to you that maybe you're the lucky one for not having hitched your wagon to a lemon?

Traditional relationships are going the way of the Beta, anyway. We don't want to make the same mistakes our parents did (like getting married and having us) or repeat the ones we've made before. Of course we crave companionship, but our choices for company don't fit the moldy molds of the past. Maybe you're part of a Jerry-and-Elaine pair. (You fit together perfectly but you're just not together.) Maybe you have a Mulder-Scully kind of partnership (sexual tension, not acted on). Or maybe, like Buffy, you're in love with a vampire and still need your friends. (We've all done that.)

Valentine's Day is about love, and no one said it has to be a specific kind. So here are some semidefined ways to celebrate with your lesser-defined companion(s) that don't involve the tried and trite. You can celebrate love -- you don't have to be in it.

Groovy movie showings are a good way to relax. For Valentine's Day, go grab a copy of "Happiness," "Boxing Helena," "The Heartbreak Kid" or any other flicks that show love for the hysterical, mortifying, soul-deadening pain-in-the-ass it can be. Then get your champagne, sushi, Ben and Jerry's, tequila, footie pajamas, whatever you and your pals need for a grown-up slumber party, and be happy you don't have someone judging you by what size bouquet you showed up with.

Romantic getaways are wonderful, but a lover can distract you from the sights. Take your pals to the airport, train station or travel agent and plan a buds-only weekend to somewhere dopey you've always wanted to go to, like Roswell, Graceland or Weeki Wachee. The best thing about a trip with a friend? No matter how much baggage you take, you aren't taking any baggage.

What's the good of being free if you're free in a rut? Go on a local adventure with your friends to a place your drag-ass ex would never have had the good humor to go with you. Go to 8 Seconds and line dance, to Cassadaga and have your fortune read, to Cocoa Beach for a walk on the pier at night. A new view can be a very romantic thing, whoever you see it with.

Nauseated by all those cloying, lovey-dovey positive affirmations?

"You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of Wisdom Sure to Ruin Your Day" is a collection of negative affirmations that perfectly parodies the soppy self-help industry. This book has enough vinegar to embitter Sarah Lee. Read aloud to your friends from the chapter "The Nightmare That Is Love":

"Love is a deep, dark chasm of pain and loss." "No one will ever love you as much as your mother did." "There's nothing very special about your special someone." "Your genitals are hideous."

If they laugh, read to them from other chapters, like "The Goddamn Kids," "Your Miserable Job" and "Your Faith: What Has It Ever Brought You but Grief?"

If they cry, they were a wuss you didn't need anyway.

As for the friends you do need, just because you two aren't having sex doesn't mean they don't deserve a show of love on VD. Take them to one of the premium ice-cream shops for a sundae that will put them in a happy sugar coma. They deserve that, don't they?

Volunteer to be the designated driver one night so they can get stinking drunk. Sacrificing beer is as strong a declaration of love as there is.

Treat them to a massage at a pampering day spa. That way you can be physical without actually touching them.

Finally, you can go to that swanky restaurant on Valentine's Day -- but make reservations for seven people. Going out en masse on the lovers' holiday is an extra-strength antidote to being alone, plus you get to celebrate with a bunch of people you love at once, plus you get to turn the tables on all the annoying ads for this conventional-couples-only day.

And with your friends, you may end up doing more than turning the tables. You may end up dancing on them.


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