I don't know if there's something in the water, but my town has exploded with tons of single people! Just last year, practically the only eligibles I knew were my divorced friend Patti, my bud Fulgencio, hubby Rick's barfly pal Craig, and Jimmy the pizza delivery guy. But now, I find out that my cousin Michelle is leaving her second husband, and a recent chit-chat with my building's manager Sandy revealed that she hasn't had a serious relationship in almost five years! Besides that, at least five suspected singletons have moved into my building since June. Five!

For an incurable romantic like me, this is heartbreaking. People are meant to have sweeties! I feel soooo sorry for single people. How can they bear going through life alone? I know a lot of them put up that "independent" front, or use that "I'm just waiting for the right person" defense, but they're kidding themselves. Why would anyone turn up her nose at the prospect of a beautiful wedding, a gorgeous bridal gown, and a stunning rock on her finger? She wouldn't. Why would anyone shake a stick at a warm dinner every night, a comfortable home, and a beautiful bride? It just isn't rational. And I don't like to be harsh, but frankly, it's depressing to see singles out in public. When I see a girl shopping for groceries by herself, or a solitary guy reading while he waits for a bus, I can't help but sense the hollowness that single person feels inside. I'm partially psychic, so I'm attuned to other people's inner feelings.

Well, this Valentine's Day, I'm not going to be selfish. People like me, people in successful, lasting relationships, are duty-bound to share their romantic wisdom with the less fortunate. Granted, it's been a while since I've been on the dating scene, so my chops are a bit rusty. In fact, hubby Rick is just about the only guy I've ever dated! (Unless you count my pick for the Sadie Hawkins dance in seventh grade, Jordy DeVoe, who ditched me after about 15 minutes. Or this Oriental kid named Thant who wrapped love notes around lunchroom cookies and slipped them into my locker in ninth grade.) But Rick and I have been married nearly 20 years, so I must be doing something right. Dry those tears, Singletons! Pull yourselves together and listen to Wifey Jean. If you follow my advice, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you'll find your Prince Charming, or Princess Enchanting, in no time!

First of all, don't sell yourself short! You may think you have no chance with that special someone, but faith and persistence can pay off big! I'm going to dip pretty deep in the old memory bank here and tell you a story about how Rick and I got together, way back in high school.

Now, when I was 16, I guess I wasn't your typical kid. Let's just say that I deviated from the norm a little. (I don't believe in using the term "nerd," because I don't like put-down language.) While other girls had bleached, feathered hair and slashes of blush across their cheeks, I had a unique sense of personal style. Every day of my junior year, I wore a pair of rainbow suspenders, jeans rolled up to my knees, striped knee socks, and a newsboy cap. I looked very tomboyish, but at least there was no mistaking me for some dull Daisy Duke clone!

My future soulmate Rick was part of that elite crowd of hunks known as the "jocks." Yep, old hubby Rick was on the varsity wrestling squad and the bowling team. (True, the wrestling coach kept him on the bench most of the time, but Rick was one of the leading bowlers, and his team made regional semi-finals twice!)

Now, somebody like me wasn't even supposed to look at a jock, let alone date him. But Rick was best buds with my older brother Kevin, and he was at our house a lot, so I couldn't help but have eyes for him.

Unfortunately, Rick had eyes for someone else: Shanni, one of the cheerleaders (predictably feathered and blushed). He hung out by her locker between periods, and one weekend she went with my brother and him to Rick's uncle's place out in the country to drink Pabst and shoot skeet. If I were a quitter, I would've walked away and cried myself to sleep. But a little voice inside me told me to hang in there. (Told you I was psychic!)

One day after school, Rick and Kevin had plans to drive to Shanni's place and pick her up. An hour after they left, they pulled into our driveway—just the two of them, no Shanni. Rick had a dejected look on his face. I asked what was wrong, and Kevin said Shanni wasn't home. Rick lumbered around a little, but then his mood changed. He announced that he wasn't going to let "some [w]itch" spoil his fun and said he was going to his uncle's anyway. Then, he said something I'd been waiting to hear for months: "Jean, why don't you come? You look like a chick who could use a good time. Let's party."

I was on Cloud Nine! No one had ever called me a chick before! It made me feel good to finally have my femininity recognized. I later learned that Shanni liked the varsity quarterback Dennis, and that she only hung out with Rick because he always bought the beer and the pot. You see what I'm getting at here? If I'd given up and retreated to that "room of my own," Mrs. Rick Teasdale would have been someone else altogether! Later, Rick's dad caught us making whoopee in the backseat of Rick's car, and the rest, as they say, is history! This so-called "nerd" won her jock!

That's why my advice is: Don't be afraid to be romantic. Sometimes singles are afraid to make fools of themselves, so they act guarded on dates. Acting that way, it's no wonder you can't get a ring on your finger or a home-cooked meal! It snuffs the budding relationship right out. You gotta take risks to get the things you want. By keeping romance in the picture, you show the person just how special he or she is.

I can think of a hundred romantic things: a ride on one of those foot-powered paddleboats, a teddy bear placed beside someone's computer, a ride in a hot-air balloon (they have coupons for them in the ShoprSavr)... Or surprise your beloved with a table strewn with rose petals and a dinner you've prepared yourself—and, for dessert, have strawberries dipped in chocolate. Or better yet, plan a night in with champagne, expensive ice cream, and Ice Castles in the VCR! (Sigh...)

Now, admittedly, I've never experienced any of these things. But if the person you like is anything like me, he or she would deeply appreciate any of them.

And now, one final tip: Make sure to let your sweetheart know how much you care about him or her, in no uncertain terms, and as soon as possible. What are you waiting for? You'll have all the time in the world to get to know each other once that knot is tied, believe me!

Singles, stop thinking so much and start living. Valentine's Day is just around the corner, so put my advice into action. And, should you be in the vicinity of Blossom Meadows Drive on February 15, let me know how it went. I'll be standing at my window, peeling the red paper hearts off the glass and putting them in storage.