February is the month of romance, highlighted by the annual celebration of Feb. 14, known as Valentine’s Day.

It is no secret that among us men folk that Valentine’s Day is a conspiracy, born within the Hallmark Corporation, simply for greed and profit. They even created a television network so that women can fantasize about being swept away by a prince from an obscure country while their husbands cut the grass.

Actually, the historical perspective on Valentine’s Day is anything but romantic. Here’s a sample taken from History.com : The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Still others insist that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, who was the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.”

I can see why Claudius II never received a dozen roses or a six-dollar, fold-out Valentine’s Day card.

That brings me to a point, which is the failure of men to learn from their past mistakes and those of their elders.

Valentine’s Day comes each year. It is well publicized (overly publicized,  actually) but unless you were in a double lock-down-quarantine state of bunker living, you know the longer you wait, the worse the card selection will be on Aisle 10 at the store.

Pick any grocery or drug store at 6 p.m. on Feb. 14 and you will observe doomed men with the Thousand-Yard-Stare in the checkout line, holding the worst cards left behind by everyone who didn’t wait until the last minute. In their hands, they hold a half-dead flower a kudzu leaf and a couple of Kit Kat bars because the good candy was sold out. Nothing good will come of it later that evening.

Don’t be that guy.

Love, of course, isn’t contingent on your Valentine’s-Day scorecard.

I had a friend who took his girl to Fiji to enjoy the sunsets on the Pacific. She left him a week after they returned. I guess she thought they had peaked. Another friend took his girl on a summer-long tour of all the NASCAR tracks nationwide. She left him at Talladega.

Love is like a knuckleball. You can’t always catch it.

Unfortunately, the search for love can also lead you to trouble and despair.

Online dating has become a popular way for people to meet, and, of course, people meet online for the chance that it will lead to romance and beyond. Many times, however, it leads to fraud and heartbreak.

Anyone can access an account on an online-dating site with a completely fabricated profile and a slick story, geared to tug at the heartstrings of a vulnerable person. The fraudster says all the right things leading the victim to feel a connection and of course, he wants to build on it—online of course.

Why? Because the fraudster says he’s on an oil rig off the Saudi coast or in the military, sitting in a bunker on a hill in Afghanistan, or some other remote location that prohibits a face-to-face meeting.

Once the crook succeeds in connection and comfortable the victim has taken the bait, they want to move the conversation away from the dating site and text one-on-one. Soon after, the request for money surfaces. The needs are many, including surgery needed for a sick relative, taxes or other debts needing to be paid by wiring funds or sending pre-paid gift cards.

These are just a couple of examples that the person on the other end of the conversation is a crook. Another clue you’re being set up for a scam is the request to set up a bank account in your name and Social Security number. This is when you need to bail out and cut off the communication. Never send money to someone you’ve never met.

That sounds easy but unfortunately, slick-talking con artists know all the right things to say, leading a victim to believe it is true love despite all the clues.

At the slightest hint of suspicion, confide in someone — a relative or close friend, someone not connected emotionally to the person — and get an honest opinion on the facts.

It will save you a lot of money and heartbreak.

Also, don’t be caught on the greeting-card aisle at 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t end well for you. I speak from experience.


Steve Rose is a retired police captain and a contributing writer to Atlanta Senior Life.