Anyone who knows me well realizes that i truly hate Valentine's Day. I've hated the commercial holiday ever since puberty came and not one woman gave me a Valentine for over a decade. I hate it because the first woman I ever loved did not love me, so Valentine's Day meant more proof of a truth i wanted to deny. I hate it because the second woman I loved used it to tell me about her other lover, and the following year it marked the bitter end of that relationship, the only relationship of my life were the M-Word got used with intent. I hate Valentine's Day.

Now, I do have one particularly pleasant memory of the day, but that involved a night dancing to The Squids with a long-legged brunette. That night culminated in an x-rating. I'll say no more except that it left one picture burned into my mind. That image I'll happily take to my grave. I can see how those lucky enough to have found true, mutual love could find it a particularly pleasant celebration. And If I were in the greeting card industry or a florist I'd love it.

But I'm none of the above. For me Valentine's Day punctuates a certain emptiness in my life. It's a little spike in the side, whispering "you're not good enough" in my ear.

When I was twenty, or thirty curing that emptiness mattered more than anything. But I'm middle-aged now. i have built a good life, one rich in friendships and hobbies. Most of the time that doesn't bother me too much. I don't meet any women sitting here at my computer, geeking away or working on a writeup or my new novel. I don't meet them at the race track. I don't meet many among my science fiction friends, and the one I did meet at a con is the aforementioned woman i almost married. I don't meet any women on my job, because construction is a nearly all-male environment. I don't meet women on the net, at least women in my time zone.

Because of that, lack of confidence, and other factors i periodically declare that i will never date again. That's it. No more expensive dates, no more heartbreaks. I decided to substitute 'good enough' for 'great' because 'great' seems out of reach.

The most common source of such declarations is the relationship I just left. But it happens now and then anyway. I just get into a mood, and decide to do the logical thing.

The problem is that without the special bitterness that comes from being caught between a steamroller and broken bottles the appeal of celibasy never survives contact with an actual woman. Something about an intelligent, personable woman with a shapely behind destroys all pretense of monosexuality. Wedding rings help, but in their absence of such rings my resolve melts away like butter.

Today was a case in point. My friend Willie had his annaul Daytona 500 party. Lot's of beer, buffalo wings, and french fries hot off the grill. Willy had set up a small grandstand in the living room of his still uncompleted home. I got to see the garage where his GT-4 Ford Fiesta will soon reside. I got to see the race.

Great party, except there was a woman there, unknown, attractive and not a gold band in site. Nice sense of humor. Great butt.

I tried to resist. i told myself that i wasn't going to do this any more. I ran to the food table. I geeked out talking racing with racers, an enjoyable avocation we call bench racing. I talked with my friends I took my turn cooking.

But my resolve was weak, or fate inervened. Sooner or later i found myself talking with this exotic, unapproachable creature. And I liked it.

Fate left me an escape, as she is the long-term girlfriend of a racing acquaintance. I never once asked for her phone number. I joked and stayed safe. i did nothing to truly compromise my status as a once and future monosexual.

But as i drove away the old pangs were there, gnawing at me. Telling me to lose weight, go to a singles group, get into some activity i don't have time for but women actually participate in. Reminding me that i'll be fifty soon, and if i want to strike while the libido is hot i'd better get hopping. Reminding me that I am a man, and as a man a sexual being.

And on the same weekend as fucking Valentine's Day.