Next to Christmas, my favorite holiday has to be Valentine's Day. In fact, I just got done decorating the windows of our apartment with teeny hearts cut out of red tissue paper, an annual ritual of mine. And, without fail, my efforts always get the same reaction from hubby Rick: "Geez, Jean, did they rezone the red-light district right through our place? Where's the whores?"

Leave it to hubby Rick to take a perfectly innocent collection of darling little valentine hearts and immediately associate it with prostitution! Sometimes, I feel sorry for people like Rick who see sleaze in everything. In high school, I remember we read an ancient Greek play about women who refused to make whoopee with their hubbies because the men were always fighting wars. Now, normally, I consider those ancient plays boring, but this one was great because for once, regular gals had their say instead of some dull, mean king. And even though it was written ten or twenty thousand years ago, it showed how eternally silly men are! But all my teacher (who was male, by the way) could talk about was phallic symbols and lesbians and kinky stuff, even though sex was really only a very small part of the whole play. (Or maybe the teacher's edition contained the raunchier version!) Anyway, by concentrating on the dirty stuff, perverts miss out on the finer things in life, and that's why I pity them.

Valentine's Day should be a noble day devoted to a higher kind of love, the kind motivated by romance, not simple lust. Like, when a man gives a woman a box of chocolates with a tiny, adorable teddy bear attached to the box. Or, even better, the woman is treated to a delicious dinner at a classy restaurant, and the man gets down on his knees and proposes, and the woman accepts, and all the onlookers burst into applause, and then the couple spends the night at a mountaintop ski chalet cuddling before a roaring hearth.

Or, say the woman has always been a little on the chunky side, and back in high school this cute classmate she had a huuuge crush on liked to tease her about her weight. But on Valentine's Day about 20 years later, out of the blue, the classmate appears at her door terminally ill and tells her he's really sorry for being such a jerk to her so long ago, but she forgives him, and they embrace and kiss passionately, and he dies right there on her doorstep.

Okay, okay, call me Jean The Incurable Romantic. But don't these things sound soooo much more romantic than "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am?" Believe it or not, I can dream up scenarios even more magical than the ones I mentioned above. You know, scenarios with unicorns and forest glades and stuff. You see, simply by using my imagination, Valentine's Day isn't limited to one day a year—I can treat myself to a little mind vacation any time!

But even my considerable ability to fantasize can start to ebb sometimes. When this happens, I turn to some surefire sources of inspiration:

First, I buy a bunch of bridal magazines. No, I'm not looking to get married again (unless Patrick Swayze decides to re-enter the market... rowrr, rowrr!). I just love to pore over the pages, getting lost in endless fluffy clouds of satin and lace and tulle and beadwork. I try to imagine the luscious taste of the multi-tiered wedding cakes and what it's like to be the center of attention at a ceremony attended by hundreds of your closest friends and kin, each practically weeping with joy as they lay gorgeously wrapped gifts at your feet. (I wish I could say our wedding presents were impressive. Let's just say hubby Rick and I got married the year "Mr. Microphone" was all the rage!)

Second, I stop by travel agencies and pick up free vacation brochures with gorgeous pictures of tropical getaways. I wish I'd had my honeymoon on a pleasure cruise or at an exotic spa-resort where they treat you like Cleopatra and place chocolates on your pillow, and you get a beach all to your hubby and yourself. (The only time Rick and I took off after our wedding was to attend the funeral of his great aunt. Club Med? More like Club Dead!) I cut out the best pictures from the brochures and paste them into a special scrapbook I've created. (The scrapbook sits on a special shelf, right alongside my "Kitty Kompendium" and my "Chocollection.")

Third, I take a long, hot bubble bath with lots of lit candles. Well, it's not exactly a long, hot bubble bath. It's more like a long, hot shower. You see, our apartment only has a shower stall with no tub. But the candles give off a beautiful glow through the frosted glass.

Finally (and this is the most surefire way to get me in the Valentine's Day mood), I scatter my many stuffed animals and Beanie Babies all over my waterbed, lay down, and roll around, letting them bob and tumble all over me as the bed waves and undulates! You might not think this is particularly romantic (and technically, I suppose it's probably not), until you consider this one little detail: I'm totally naked!

Pretty wild, huh? I can't believe I actually admitted that! Then again, what's to be ashamed of? After all, I do the "Plush Jamboree" in the privacy of my bedroom. And it's not like I touch myself or watch dirty porno movies as I do it. In fact, sex is the furthest thing from my mind! There's a difference between sexy and sensual, and the truth is, I've always loved the feel of synthetic plush against my bare skin. It tickles, and the constant bouncing makes me so giddy I laugh my head off!

Besides, it can hardly be a sexual thing, because I've done this since I was a little girl. Well, I quit doing it for the first few years Rick and I were married, but since Rick spends most nights at Tacky's Tavern, and I don't have much to do evenings, why not indulge in a little good, clean fun every once in a while? Besides, we all have our little peculiarities, don't we? Come on, admit it! (Well, don't actually admit it: I get some pretty strange mail from readers telling me about their problems and obsessions, and I'm like, "Hel-lo, talk to the hand! That's a little more information than I needed to know!")

Anyhow, I'm absolutely convinced that if more people took my advice and saw the real romance in Valentine's Day, there would be a lot less need for porn... and Prozac!