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Valentine’s Day for the financially challenged

Ahh, Valentine’s Day is here again, and it is time for classification. You probably fit into one of the following categories: 1. You are in love. 2. You are dating someone/two/three. 3. You are “in between” significant others.

Unfortunately, you are also without a huge amount of money to blow on the all-important evening. Even if you are asexual, Valentine’s Day will at least have to be spent making sacrifices to the gods so you are not forced to cling to that lame excuse next year. How can you celebrate the most important holiday of the year (other than St. Patrick’s Day, Hanukkah, Halloween, Father’s Day, your birthday, etc.)? Here is the answer.

Do you still not have plans for tonight? Before making plans, you must classify your relationship, or lack thereof. Your status in the “pool of love” means so much on a day like this, no matter how much you wish it did not. Fear not, my little Cupid victims, for the answer to your last-minute planning problems is here! First, we must talk more about separation between our three types of lovebirds.

You are in love. Been together forever? Take heart, three months does count! College relationships are counted in dog years. Hopefully, you already have a plan. If not, let us work together on a wonderful Valentine’s evening that appears to have been planned well in advance. Well in advance meaning one week or more. Midterms are a good excuse for any mishaps.

You need a romantic night, and pronto! Flowers are a must for your sweetie, and you can still find a few around town if you have the cash. To save some dough, buy eight or so roses and decorate thoroughly with greenery. Only the prissiest of princesses will count them in front of you and actually chide you on your thrifty ways. (Tell me again why you are dating an ice queen.) Dinner is the next obstacle to tackle. It is Friday, you fool, there are no reservations left. No problem! Do you have a stove/hot plate/George Foreman grill? What about some clean plates? Time to go buy some groceries.

Sure, steak may seem expensive here in the meat aisle, but the same steak at a restaurant would be three times as much! You smart bargain hunter, you. Get some vegetables, no matter how old they are. Neither of you is going to eat them anyway. All good college students are working toward the ultimate goal of being diagnosed with scurvy. No oranges as appetizers allowed. Get some tasty Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes and a half-gallon of ice cream, and you are set for dinner and dessert! A little fresh parsley for the plates would be a nice touch. A decent bottle of wine is also quite affordable.

Now put on the final touches. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, dress with care and remember to take a shower, you dirty hippie. Clean your place, including the toilet, and get that dinner ready. Put on some nice music, Shuggie Otis or Portishead, maybe. NO BARRY WHITE to start the evening, unless you want that special someone to laugh in your face. After the aforementioned preparation, get ready to get a little action. If you want any more than a little, you will have to prepare a bit more in advance next year, stud. Or pour the wine liberally.

You are dating someone/two/three. This is the most difficult category to be in on Valentine’s Day. How to include everyone you are seeing? A nice form letter type Valentine might work nicely. Tip: Do not, I repeat, do not go overboard on the glitter. Nothing spells “desperate” like a construction paper heart resembling David Bowie. Most likely, you will spend this day alone, because you cannot choose between your gaggles of suitors. If so, skip to the next category. If not, continue reading.

You serial daters have two choices: You can pick just one person to spend the day with, or make time for both separately. For those especially adventurous, there is an exciting, though possibly traumatic, third option: going out with all of your dates at once. However, this can only be done if you are exceptionally beautiful and charismatic or if your dates are all morons. If you do not possess these characteristics, this option quickly leads to the third category. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep it casual. If you have not hit the all-defining three-month mark, this should be a night filled with a simple meal, the viewing of a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant or Tom Hanks, and a walk down by the waterfront, or some such pretty place at night.

You are “in between” significant others. Single? Of course you are. The options abound for those of your nomadic, boyfriend-to-girlfriend-to-confused tendencies. No matter which way you swing, if you swing at all, there is still plenty to do tomorrow! Luckily, this category has many subcategories, and each has a simple solution to Valentine’s Day planning woe.

1. New single: Spend the night watching depressing foreign films and eating ice cream. Or, drink a lot and call exes after midnight. 2. Old single: Go out with other single friends (everyone has some) and spend the entire night talking about how you do not need a partner and are better off single, all the while making eyes at the cutie across the room. 3. Content single: Go see a movie. Alone. Still content? Sometimes you have to suffer to realize that “content single” is an oxymoron. 4. Asexual: Work on homework, since you never knew that such an antiquated holiday was still around. Who needs a date when you have such entertaining fish?

There you have it, affordable options for all dating situations, though the coupled category is significantly more expensive. You have been warned. Now go, enjoy your Valentine’s Day celebration, no matter what you do or whom you spend it with. Too bad mistletoe is only around during Christmas.