If you went out at all last weekend, you may have assumed that Valentine’s Day had come a week early. I decline to go into further detail, but suffice it to say that from what I observed, Cupid’s arrow was working overtime at all the parties. Hopefully, Cupid will realize he prematurely released his arrows and return today, the real Valentine’s Day.

I am sure all of you have noticed that Valentine’s Day tends not to be at the top of the list of people’s favorite holidays. Many complain that Valentine’s Day is a ploy by card companies to increase their profits. Others stand adamant that it simply is not nor ever will be a real holiday. Still, many more believe that the only people who have ill feelings toward the holiday are single and bitter. Regardless of your opinion of Valentine’s Day, it has most certainly affected you somehow. Many television shows have heavily promoted their Valentine’s Day special episodes and commercials depict advertisements in the spirit of love. (Don’t miss Michal Towber ’03 on the Valentine’s Day episode of “One Life to Live.”) Unless you have locked yourself away in a desolate room, then you have noticed that this day would inevitably come.

Even the Yale community has succumbed to the power of Valentine’s Day. The Yale Bookstore has a whole section comprised of stuffed animals and treats, while Yale singing groups have been selling “Singing Valentines.” In fact, the Yale community will continue to celebrate this “holiday” over the weekend as Shades performs tonight, the Yale Medical School Film Society screens “Punch-Drunk Love,” and the Winter Ball gets under way tomorrow night. For those of you who are single, it may be a little depressing to see every restaurant filled with romantic couples. Yet just as popular culture tends to influence the activities and trends of everyday people, so too can it influence your chances of possibly having someone to snuggle up to come next Valentine’s Day. With thanks to popular culture, here are my guaranteed ways to lessen your probability of being single the next time around:

Do not, under any circumstances, subject yourself to a competition among 25 single people who seek the affection of an eligible bachelor or bachelorette. After all, few of us can actually say we have found our soul mate here among over 5,000 undergraduates. So what is it that makes you think you would find him/her in a group of 25? (For those who don’t know yet, Helene and Aaron are splitsville, and the jury is still out until next week about Trista).

Please do not look to “Joe Millionaire” as a model of how to obtain love. Do not pretend that you are somebody you are not. It is NOT a true test of whether someone is interested in you for money or for love; in either case, they have deceived you! False appearances are reserved for Halloween and getting elected (sometimes).

Do not pursue a relationship with someone you work with. Just because you see eye-to-eye on business and creative matters, does not mean that you will see eye-to-eye on matters of the heart. (We will see just how long Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy last, as well as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez).

Finally, try to avoid those who have political power and those who think they are in the mafia. Knowing that this campus is politically charged, I am fully aware that this may pose a problem, so take this piece of advice at your own risk. I only provide this warning because, well, we all know what happened with Clinton, Kennedy and FDR. Hmmm, it’s funny that they are all Democrats. Moreover, the lead actor of the Sopranos just went through a nasty divorce.

Still not comforted or reassured? I don’t blame you, but don’t worry, because being single on Valentine’s Day isn’t as bad as it sounds. Besides, if you need a holiday to bring out the romantic in you, then you are probably better off being single anyway.

Holding an elected office hasn’t made Alicia Washington any less lovable.