February 08, 2008 11:00 pm

By Scott Graves

Pilot staff writer

I've been married for 13 years. That's 13 Valentine's Days. You'd think that by now I'd have this gift-buying thing down pat. You'd be wrong.

There's one thing going against me and all men on this planet: We're guys.

Struggling with what to get the love of our lives for Valentine's Day is preordained. It's an inherited trait that plagued our fathers and our father's fathers, and every generation of our families since Adam and Eve's time. Back then, Adam didn't have a clue what to get Eve. That's why he was off searching paradise for the perfect gift while Eve knew exactly what to get – an apple.

So Valentine's Day is nearly here, and if you're a guy, you're probably waiting to the last minute to purchase a gift. Have no fear. This issue of the Curry Coastal Pilot is filled with advertisements offering plenty of CYA options.

There are plenty of romantic items to buy that special someone: lawn mower, big screen TV, Halo 3 video game ... oh wait, those are items on My Valentine's Day gift list.

For her, you can get something truly romantic such as a new blender, set of towels or electric toothbrush. I also see that plastic storage totes are on sale at Fred Meyer.

Of course you're going to need some money – which most of us guys are habitually short of. Again, have no fear. I have the perfect solution: panhandling.

I'm serious.

According to a report by the Associated Press this week, "a police survey says pandhandlers outside a Wal-Mart in Coos Bay can make $300 a day. Inside, it takes a clerk a week to make that much."

And panhandling is legal!

According to the report, police say asking for money is considered protected free speech.

In fact, Coos Bay Police Capt. Rodger Craddock was quoted as saying most panhandlers are residents and do it as their chosen profession.

I argue that a few of them are there desperately trying to raise money to buy their girlfriend a lawn mower or big screen TV for Valentine's Day.

Frankly, I'd like to avoid the holiday altogether, but I can't; I'm married. Therefore, I have to come up with something romantic for my wife. (This column definitely won't cut it.)

So, if you run out of time, money or ideas on what to get your loved one, consider doing the following:

•Leave the toilet seat down – all day.

•Give up control of the TV remote.

•Dress and feed the kids.

•Rub her feet – warts and all.

•Cook dinner – even if all you can make is cheese and mac.

•If necessary, stop and ask someone for directions. Better yet, let her drive.

•Pick up the wet towels from the bathroom floor.

• Don't brush your teeth in the shower.

•Stop talking about lawnmowers and big screen TVs.

•Wear pants around the house.

And, finally, although it pains me to say this,

•Let her have the final word in an argument.

Just do something, anything, that shows her that you don't take her for granted. Which happens the other 364 days a year.