Not to give away any spoilers, but we’re a week away from Valentine’s Day and true to form, February 14 falls smack in the middle of the cold and flu season. No kissing, please, unless your idea of true love is sharing a runny nose.

On the other hand, I hold that the couple that sneezes together stays together. I mean, you can be “God blessing” each other back and forth till death do you part, so to speak, and the two of you will be keeping each other from getting The Plague to boot. That time-honored “God bless you,” followed by “thank you” custom started in the 6th century by Pope Gregory, who encouraged the requesting of this divine intervention since sneezing was often the first sign that somebody was coming down with The Plague.

When it comes down to it, from what I’ve gathered over the years, sneezing, if done discreetly, is socially allowable, whereas the blowing of one’s nose can be downright messy and can be risky besides – if performed in public like in restaurants or during the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe that’s why you never see people on TV talk shows blow their noses. It should be performed with the utmost discretion, mainly because much too often, the blow you think will be modest and somewhat under control will come out something akin to the honking of a sandhill crane and make the person across the room jump. But when you gotta do it, you gotta do it, unless you’re a six-year-old boy and take care of business on your mucus-slicked shirt sleeve.

To paraphrase Neil Young, “Love is a nose, but you better not pick it.”

But I digress.

The whole Valentine’s Day thing goes back centuries but really took off after 1847 with the introduction by Esther Howland of Valentine’s Day greeting cards. Ever since then, it has become one of the most confusing, nay tricky, times of the year for married guys. I say “married” specifically because it ranks up there as one of three critical days on any husband’s calendar; the other two in the wedded bliss triad are, of course, the wedding anniversary and her birthday.

Single men can keep the romance going with something reasonably affordable; perfume, flowers or anything chocolate (even if it is the first day of Lent), and don’t forget the actual card as well as a plethora of memes and emojis. Plan carefully because V-Day cometh, and you never know what your Valentine may like.

But wouldn’t you know it, there is a flip side to this lovey-dovey stuff; a cathartic anti-Valentine for those who hold grudges after a breakup.

I was reading about a fundraiser sponsored by the San Antonio Zoo that is offering the heartbroken a chance to “exterminate’’ their past relationship by naming a cockroach after their chosen ex. For just $10 you can give them permission to stomp on your named cucaracha. If that’s a little too barbaric, I’m wondering if you can stipulate the more humane execution by nitrogen. You can also choose a veggie or a rat that will be fed to the zoo animals if that makes you feel better.

Otherwise, you can skip the pity party and just send the ten bucks to the Albuquerque Zoo.

More traditionally, I’ve always heard dinner and dancing is a good way to commemorate Valentine’s Day, but as far as that went, I was never much of a dancer. I once tried to master the Texas Two-Step but got mixed up with the step-step and step-close-step. And don’t get me started on my line-dancing kerfluffle.

By the way, today is the 114th anniversary of that league of future extraordinary gentlemen, the Boy Scouts of America. I don’t know if you have experienced scouting, but if you once sported that blue and yellow neckerchief, you’re in good company: Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Jim Morrison, Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Buffet, and the lead singer of Imagine Dragons. Oh, and yours truly.

My Boy Scout Handbook said, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Basically, all things that make up a decent human being, although as a Boy Scout, I have to admit to having a problem with the “obedient” part. My mother could’ve attested to that.

I couldn’t say for sure if being in Scouting through my teen years helped me, but I faithfully read Boy’s Life Magazine from cover to cover every month and did learn how to start a decent fire on camping trips. Unfortunately, I didn’t rise much above the Tenderfoot level since there was no merit badge for shooting pool, so there was that.
Boy Scouts don’t have cookies, but they do sell popcorn and sometimes fertilizer.