February 13, 2009, - 5:07 pm

On Valentine’s Day a/k/a “Doghouse Risk Avoidance Day”: Big Day for Catchin’ Cheaters; White Castle Candlelight Dinners

By Debbie Schlussel
Sadly, I can’t do what I really wish I could tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day.
You see, I know–as hopefully you do–that it’s a forced day. By forced, I mean that most men aren’t buying women chocolates or flowers for their wives or girlfriends or taking them out to dinner because they want to. It’s because they have to. It’s an obligation, period. Not an expression of love. Don’t fool yourself into naive notions otherwise.
So what did I want to do? Well, last year, Valentine’s Day a/k/a “Doghouse Risk Avoidance Day” fell on a weekday, on a workday. I happened to be at a CVS near my home between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. I laughed as I watched the steady march of a crowd of men on their way home from work, trudging through CVS–without happy looks on their faces–looking for cards and chocolate or other candy. None of ’em looked like they wanted to do it. But if they didn’t, they’d be in the doghouse with their women. This was their last chance, the last outpost before a trip to man’s best friend’s humble, dark, cold abode.


Is that really what women want? A forced expression of obligation? Well, if you like Valentine’s Day, that’s basically what you’re getting. There’s nothing wrong with romance. But, for the most part, for men, Valentine’s Day is an obligation, not romance.
And aside from that, love is not about buying chocolates and a card because Hallmark and Hershey told you, too. What these guys were doing all day long before they got to CVS–struggling to make a living, put food on the table, and, likely, to support a family–is the real love they show every day of the year. Any woman who puts any one of them in the doghouse despite all of that–because he didn’t buy chocolate or a card on top of it–well, she’s missing what’s really happening. (And if the wife is the one earning the living, well, that’s a whole different column on another serious problem–Mr. Moms; sorry, Todd Palin.)
I wanted to videotape the “Last March of the Doghouse Avoiders.” At the time, I asked some of these men if they were doing this because they wanted to. “Are you kiddin’ me?!” was the basic response. I laughed and told some of them: “Well, you just avoided the doghouse.” They agreed. And they weren’t laughing with me.
But this year, there’s no steady, simultaneous rush of men after work buying candy at CVS as a last chance at ransom for a night of peace at home. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, there won’t be one crush of ransom marches. And since it’s the Jewish Sabbath, I can’t videotape it anyway.
Ah, well. . . there’s always next year.
I’m not saying that there are no men who are buying the cards and the chocolates and/or springing for dinner out because they want to and because they love their wives, girlfriends, and/or mistresses. I’m just saying most are doing this out of obligation only. The ones who would do this of their own volition, well, they don’t need a special day and greeting card companies and pop culture hype to dictate to them to do it on this particular day.
And they aren’t suddenly rushing the local CVS in unison on only one day a year.
Not that I’m opposed to Valentine’s Day. It’s great for the economy. This feeling of obligation spurs a spike in spending just a month and a half after the Christmas buying season, which is much needed especially now when consumer spending is significantly down and leading to an endless cycle of job-cuts, store-closings, and even less spending. Though, this year, Valentine’s Day-related spending will be down, by $20 on average, according to some estimates. (And much of the candy bought for this manufactured “holiday” is now produced in jobs that U.S. candy makers took away from Americans and shipped to Mexico.)
But, let’s be clear–the spending on Valentine’s Day is done mostly by men. Every year, they do studies, and every year, men outspend women on Valentine’s day by an average of something like $20.00.
Spending is down, too, on what has also become the biggest cheating and catch-a-cheater days of the year:

Flowers and chocolate aren’t the only big sellers for Valentine’s Day. There’s also spyware.
The use of tracking devices and hiring of private investigators surge around this holiday – an opportune time to catch a cheating spouse.
“If there’s anything going on, a spouse will more than likely make contact with a lover on Valentine’s Day, the day before or the day after,” says Ruth Houston, author of the book, Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs.
Private investigators agree. “Valentine’s Day is a day of lovers, and sometimes the lover is not a spouse,” says Jimmie Mesis, editor of PI magazine. That’s why, he says, investigators are often busy this time of year.
Mesis says suspicious spouses are also turning to spyware, which costs less than a detective.
“They do their own CSI work,” he says.
His website’s sales of GPS trackers are more than 20% higher in the three weeks before Valentine’s Day than at other times of the year.
Sales of spyware to track spouses – his customer service representatives talk with buyers about how they’ll use the items – were 141% higher in the past four weeks than the monthly average for the preceding six months, says Todd Morris, CEO of BrickHouse Security.
Such devices, retailing for $50 to $400, include cameras hidden in alarm clocks, light scanners to detect evidence of sexual activity and devices to monitor e-mail.
Morris says he expected more people to stay home with their spouses in a weak economy, but sales suggest otherwise. “Apparently,” he says, “money troubles don’t stop the philandering.”
The dismal economy is making it more difficult, though, for people to afford a private investigator.
David Hill, an investigator in Tuscaloosa, Ala., says he has had lots of inquiries in recent weeks, but often callers cannot afford his $1,500 retainer.
This Valentine’s Day is one of the few in the past two decades that has not triggered a surge in clients, says Kelly Riddle, owner of Kelmar & Associates in San Antonio, a firm of 39 private investigators.

And then, there’s my favorite completely cheesy Valentine’s day promotion. Since I keep kosher, I’ve never eaten one of these burgers/sliders, and if I didn’t (keep kosher), I don’t think I would (eat one). Still, I give this company credit for chutzpah and kitsch in marketing. It’s got a certain kind of low-budget charm and humor to it.

White Castle restaurants will offer reserved candlelight dining on Saturday, February 14 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you crave the steam grilled goodness of White Castle then you’ve found the perfect dinner destination to share with your favorite Valentine.
Not only can cravers dine with candlelight, the tables will be adorned with flowers and decorations. Customers will be presented with a special menu and will receive table side service.


“This is the fourth year we have offered reserved seating for Valentine’s Day dinners. It was a huge hit last year and the year before – it always puts a smile on everyone’s face. We’re really looking forward to hearing more White Castle stories from our customers that evening. It seems that so many of our loyal customers either met in a White Castle or have a fond childhood memory that continues to bring them back into the restaurants time and time again,” said Bob Harrison, Regional Director of Restaurant Operations in Detroit.
Reservations are filling up quickly and can still be made by calling [your local White Castle].

In the past, White Castle has also offered promotional photos to couples who took part in this Valetine’s Day offering (though not this year).
Check here to find out if your White Caste is a “Love Castle.”
Just hope that Harold and Kumar aren’t within driving distance. Nor a doghouse.

19 Responses

I agree that men today, most anyways, just go through the motion of valentine’s day to avoid banishment to the “doghouse”. what is worse is how so many women hold this one day up as the true measure of a man’s love toward her. What happened to the other 364 days of the year? The day is way overblown in its significance and done away with in my opinion.

Chuck W on February 14, 2009 at 9:00 am

I do all my Christmass and Valintines Day shopping at the 7-11 on my way home from work.
Keepin it simple.

James R McKenna on February 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

I liked what you said about a guy’s real love is what he does every day in supporting his family. I don’t want some silly chocolate sampler from CVS. I just want to know he loves me and he can show this simply by holding my hand and caring for me. 🙂

PrincessKaren on February 14, 2009 at 9:47 am

Kudos, again, for writing a dead-on blog today Debbie.
Why should men, or women for that matter, spend money just because Hallmark needs to show a profit for the first quarter?
Not that one day is bad enough, but Hallmark chimes in on the fourth quarter as well with “Sweetest Day”. Got to love another lame excuse to extort money out of our pockets because we would look bad otherwise.
By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day everybody 🙂

trewsdetroit on February 14, 2009 at 10:48 am

I will admit I am too weak to boycott Valentine’s Day. People complain, but deep down we all love the attention. So what, it’s only one day.
If your relationship is strong, one day isn’t going make or break it. Hell hath no fury like a jilted woman on Valentine’s Day.
Bros it your choice:
However if there are holdouts.

californiascreaming on February 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm

“that’s a whole different column on another serious problem Mr. Moms; sorry, Todd Palin.)”
Yes you need your daily dose of Palin bashing.

Ripper on February 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Completely in agreement, Debbie.
My lovely wife and I have agreed for years to do nothing extraordinary om this day. You hit it quite squarely on the head with this one (as you always do).

Todd on February 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I have a friend who is middle aged, never been married and never even had a serious girl friend I suspect – yet he is so desperate to be married and to have a relationship that is more then just platonic that he (sadly and somewhat pathetically) gives Valentine’s Day gifts to women who are just casual friends of his. That’s why I sort of feel that Valentine’s Day and to a lesser extent New Years Eve are two of the cruelest ‘holidays’ out there for a lot of unattached people.

Ripper on February 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm

My husband has treated me like a princess since our first date some 20-odd years ago. We don’t need no steenkin’ Hallmark holidays!

mplumb on February 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Shame on you anti-romantics. I wrote my wife a poem and did a homecard with the poem on it.

greenlynn on February 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Like a compass needle always points northward.
So do I always bend towards you,
My Love, my own True North.
Though roads may bend right, then left
As I travel my way through many obligations
And obstacles, I find my paths bending to you.
You are my ever fixed point that guides
My paths, the center providing the calm
From the storms that rise, then fall,
My anchor through the ebbs and swells.
(I have no pretense that this is good poetry, but I had fun writing it, and she enjoyed getting it along with the roses.)

greenlynn on February 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm

LOL at whitecastle-regarding the rest 9of the post, I get what you mean, but some women jsut want attention from their lovers, husbands, etc.

mindy1 on February 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Friends wife went out of town for the week end. He’s not happy. I bought roses through pro flowers. Could’ve gotten better at Kroger. Seriously. $50, and they look like they’re from f’in Somalia. Wife is happy but….

samurai on February 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Well you can call it “single awareness day” for me. In a society today where true love and decent people are considered “not normal”, I did my best to aviod most of valentine’s day.
It’s really hard for decent, classy, respectful guys like me to find a lady these days. I won’t go into why that is since most of you already know anyway.
If only Debbie could be my valentine…even if it’s for a day or one hour.

Squirrel3D on February 15, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Valentines day is no where near the commercial racket that Christmas has become. Valentines day has a history that started long before the Hallmark holiday. When it first started, I heard that people used to send insult cards to each other, rather than sweet stuff. In my opinion, V- day is not a big deal. Some flowers, a small gift, and maybe dinner out is not even close to what people spend on Christmas presents, which sometimes are even bought for people we don’t even like. Guys who have a wife or girfriend and are smart, are thankful to have someone to spend Valentines day with and know it isn’t really something to complain about. Those that don’t have someone can either ignore the holiday, which is easy to do, or can do something for someone they care about anyway, even if they aren’t in a relationship with them. ( Use caution, here though!)

rtaylor174 on February 15, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I took my wife out to dinner, and then we spent the night at a decent hotel, where we also had a nice breakfast together in the restaurant.
The way I figure, Valentine’s Day is very important to women; therefore, a husband (or boyfriend) ought to make her feel special on that day, whether or not the day is important to him.
My wife felt very special on that day.

Jim on February 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

Debbie the Valentine Scrooge!

jcm on February 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Thanks Debbie!

I agree whole heartedly! In my mind, everyday is: Mother’s Day & Father’s Day (you’re only going to thank and give praise to your mother or father one day each year? ridiculous!) Everyday is also love your spouse day! If you are not praising, loving and giving thanks to your spouse each day you are missing out on so much joy!

Card and Candy companies should not be dictating when and how we love and give thanks. But they just keep making money…..


Laura Jean Kern on February 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Coolpage Thanks for writing this.

Fish Pond Pumps on January 26, 2011 at 8:41 am

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