Sitting in my studio with a bowl of chicken noodle soup -- a big hug in a bowl -- and sharpening another batch of jasmine-and-rose scented Love Arrows while singing along with my favorite Beatles' song, "All You Need Is Love" ("Something" is a close second), I began thinking about Valentine's Day and the love vibe in Fairfield County.

I realize that the Dow Jones love index is in a freefall and it troubles me greatly. As you know, I'm winged because lovers are flighty and likely to change their minds, and boyish because love is foolish and irrational. Je sais amour est difficile -- I love speaking a little French as it's such a romantic language -- and filled with lots of heartbreak.

That may scare some of you away from looking for love and a committed relationship, settling instead for hookups and hanging out. I realize that in today's world there's a lot of confusion as to what differentiates a date from hanging out and that certainly doesn't help matters. Still, I suggest that you face up to your fear because as the Fab Four sang, "love is all your need."

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to start up the torrid romance you've been thinking about with that hunk in your health club or that girl with the beautiful blue eyes in your English lit class or even that funny guy in the office who's always borrowing pens and paper clips.

What really depresses me on Valentine's Day -- yes, this may come as a shock, but even Cupid gets depressed once in a while -- is to still see men do the flowers, box-of-candy, peck-on-the-cheek, sorry-I'm-home-late-from-the-office shuffle. C'mon, lads; that's old and so unimaginative. Do you think that's going to make that special someone feel very special? I understand that neurologically speaking, men have less brain space available for romantic thoughts, but that is no excuse.

Why not surprise the love of your life by taking off work early, giving her a big smooch and telling her how beautiful she is upon arriving home, and tangoing her across the floor and out the door into a waiting limousine? Then it's off to that chic French bistro she's been pestering you to take her to for a couple of years.

Ladies, if that loveable lug is going to do all that, it's definitely time to search out that skirt with the daring slit. I know it's been relegated to the back of your closet just begging to be worn on such an occasion. An occasion I trust that will remind you of those early days of courtship and why you fell madly in love with each other.

With all my responsibilities, I've been lax in keeping up with my love advice column but here's a letter from a true love seeker and my response that I'd like to share.

Dear Cupid:

I'm a Type-A investment banker who's had horrible luck with relationships. My friends will tell you that I go looking for love in all the wrong places. Now, I'm on the verge of getting married to a folk musician I met in the relationships aisle at Barnes & Noble. We both reached for the same copy of Dr. Phil's "Love Smart: Find the One You Want-Fix the One You Got." His gorgeous smile and perfect rock 'n' roll hair made my heart skip a beat.

My friends love his rugged good looks and his incredibly melodic and wistful songs. But for me it's really weird. I can't believe I'm in love with a guy who can't tell a stock portfolio from a Monopoly board and can't appreciate the supreme joy one gets from driving a red Ferrari around scenic Fairfield County.

He's also incredibly awkward in the social situations I thrive in; he prefers hearing live music at Stage One in Fairfield or a quiet evening at home listening to Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Lucinda Williams or Mumford and Sons.

I'm more in love with him than all those self-absorbed jerks I use to date. I know opposites attract but honestly, does this marriage stand any chance of surviving in a world where a disagreement over whose turn it is to pick the sushi restaurant can lead to divorce?

Wants It All

Dear Wants It All:

One of the more difficult things in the world besides finding a truthful personal ad and making the perfect lobster mac and cheese is living harmoniously with another human being. We all seem to want to have it our way -- because our way is obviously the best way -- and eventually that leads to the marital resentment tango where the things that you once loved in one another are what you now hate about each other. I think it's kismet that you met reaching for that Dr. Phil book. So stop worrying and get love smart.

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all.


Barry Halpin can be reached at

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