The end of January always ushers in what should be a welcome period of the year for me. All the kiddy cocktails I ingested after long nights of Candyland and “Beauty and the Beast” viewing that occupied me over break are finally out of my bloodstream. The end of January also marks the beginning of February, which means three things: the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star game and Mardi Gras. It would seem that any sports-loving Joe like myself couldn’t be more excited about the recent turnings of the calendar leaves, but that ignores one date that casts a shadow as long as one of those Hummer stretch limos. Feb. 14, otherwise known as St. Valentine’s Day, is a day that many in this part of the world know and love. It’s a day where the candy aspect of Halloween, the Hallmark-card aspect of birthdays, the teddy-bear aspect of Christmas and the flowers aspect of funerals all collide. As someone who has candy, Dilbert cards, teddy bears and Griegii Tulips listed under “Favorite Interests” on my Facebook page, I should love Valentine’s Day. But somehow I don’t. No, I’m not one of those kids who complains about Valentine’s Day being a “Hallmark holiday” forced upon America by evil corporations as they listen to their Apple iPods and wear their Northface jackets. No, I don’t like Valentine’s Day for the same reasons fingers don’t like touching stoves: I’ve been burned too many times before. I know what you’re thinking, “Of all people, you, J.B. Sivanich – the most popular, best-looking, most naturally brilliant, most dominant intramural basketball player to ever walk the grounds of this mortal campus – have been ‘burned’?” Yes, dear reader, I know this may disorient your understanding of how the world works, but I ask that you overcome your initial shock to hear out my story. Every first day of school, I engage in the normal scouting ritual. Like everyone else, I usually have narrowed down my top three by the end of second week. Next begins the long process of following them to class, following their friends, memorizing their class schedules, learning their names, memorizing their friend’s names, finding out where they’re from, finding out where they live, finding out what their hobbies are, finding out what their activities are, becoming accomplished in found-out hobbies and activities, becoming friends with their friends, finding out when they are most likely to be walking alone, finding out where the best spot to perform a pratfall right in front of them as they are walking alone and finding out what kind of jokes they think are funny. This is a pretty simple and doesn’t take that long. What really gets me though is the moment directly following this: everything goes awry. It feels like all my preparation was in vain. I talk, comfortably and with great wit. I smile and make small, non-aggressive signs of care and affection. But regardless of what I do, the objects of my pursuit eventually turn the color of Santa’s hat and laugh in short, hushed tones before rushing off in a sort of quickened trot. I’ve tried everything. I stopped wearing deodorant: more blushing, nervous laughter and quick exits. I stopped showering: more blushing, nervous laughter and quick exits. I even stopped using words and just started grunted in monosyllables: same thing. By now, I’ve just given up; I’ve resigned myself to living vicariously through GQ photo shoots and George Clooney movies. I have spent four long years in this purgatory, but, luckily, graduation is quickly approaching us. There are always cities like New York, Paris or Moscow where my prowess will be more appreciated. This Valentine’s Day coincides with the NBA All-Star game, something I have been looking forward to for weeks. I plan on watching the game by myself. This will not sadden me, though, as I will take comfort in fact that there are others out there – LeBron, Kobe, etc. – who understand my plight.