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WE KNOW WHAT YOU WANT FOR VALENTINE'S DAY.

Byline: Rob Lowman Entertainment Editor

Valentine's Day - 24 hours set aside for love ...

... and cards, flowers, candy and, yes, sex.

We know this because months before Feb. 14, the e-mails, the calls, the ads implore us to buy love-related products, throwing in nifty little facts such as: The average American ate 24.6 pounds of candy in 2003. (No wonder this nation is obese.) That's from the U.S. Census Bureau. Yes, even the government's is in on it.

Sometimes the pre-Valentine's Day onslaught is just overwhelming. Where's Jack Bauer's ``24'' counterterrorism team when you need it?

But before you jump on - or off - the bandwagon, here are a few facts and figures we gleaned related to Valentine's Day.

SEX I: According to a LifeStyles Condoms Valentine's Day survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, U.S. women are more likely to want to have sex this Valentine's Day (52 percent) than to receive the traditional cards (45 percent), flowers (41 percent), chocolates (30 percent), jewelry (27 percent) or lingerie (10 percent). Interestingly, only 16 percent of women surveyed wanted sexual satisfaction for Valentine's Day. (So for those 16 percent, flowers might be a safer choice.)

SEX II: Not everybody's lovey-dovey. A so-called expert promoting her book warns that ``Valentine's Day is the best time to catch a cheating mate.'' And the expert is on to something. A recent Wall Street Journal story noted that Valentine's Day is ``a major crisis day for anyone having an affair,'' which is why it's a big day for private investigators. (Lunch with your paramour, dinner with your spouse.) The P.I. agencies the paper talked to were already booked up for this holiday and doing double the normal business. Meanwhile, a Web site for one agency not only offers to catch the cheaters, but points to a Chicago Sun-Times online readers survey as a danger sign. The poll found that more than half of the respondents admitted to cheating on a partner (one-third on their current partner), while only 15 percent thought that they had been cheated on. You do the math.

YOUNG AND LOOKING FOR LOVE: For every 118 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) who are in their 20s, there are 100 single women of the same ages (U.S. Census). No wonder video games are big. Meanwhile, the proportion of women 20 to 24 years old who had never married more than doubled between 1970 and 2003 - from 36 percent to 75 percent. Changes were also dramatic for men - the corresponding rate for men in this age group increased from 55 percent to 86 percent.

KISSING: LiveHealthier.com tells us kissing for 30 minutes burns 30 calories. They said nothing about numb lips.

SO YOU PROPOSE AND GET MARRIED: There will be an estimated 50,000 proposals on Valentine's Day. The current issue of Best Life magazine says it costs men over a 50-year marriage some $590,400, or $12,788 per year, which includes $700 yearly for ``expensive dinners to apologize.'' Of course, Best Life is a magazine for men (so you get the basis). Hey, love hurts a bit too much for some men. By the way, 2.2 million marriages take place in the United States annually. That breaks down to more than 6,000 a day (U.S. Census). The estimated U.S. median ages at first marriage for women and men were 25.8 and 27.4, respectively, in 2004. The age for women rose 4.7 years in the past three decades. The age for men at first marriage is up 4.3 years (U.S. Census).

BLOOMING FACTS: 180 million roses were produced for Valentine's Day in 2005, making it the No. 1 holiday for florists. (From the Society of American Florists.)

IT'S IN THE CARDS: 192 million Valentine's Day cards are given annually, making Valentine's Day the second-most-popular greeting-card-giving occasion, but nearly 60 percent of those cards are bought in the six days prior to the holiday. (Hallmark, who else?) Do you know where your card is? By the by, the first true Valentine's card was sent in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as ``scrap.'' (History Channel).

SEVEN: The number of mobsters machine-gunned to death in the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago.

CAN'T BUY ME LOVE: The average consumer in 2006 will spend $100.89 on Valentine's Day, up from $97.27 last year, according to the National Retail Federation's 2006 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Almost 61 percent of consumers plan to celebrate the holiday, and the NRF is forecasting total 2006 Valentine's Day retail sales to reach $13.70 billion, up from $13.19 billion last year. The average male plans to spend $135.67. The average female plans to spend $68.64.

A CUTTING-EDGE GIFT?: Apparently not wanting to miss out on a cut of that $13.70 billion, the P.R. folks for Dr. Anthony Griffin, ``a pioneer of cosmetic surgery and star of ABC's 'Extreme Makeover,''' said the good doctor was available for interviews to discuss new trends in cosmetic surgery, such as Thread Face Lift, Gummy Bear Implants, the Brazilian Butt Lift and the Six Pack Tummy Tuck. So, where do you get a Valentine's Card that reads: ``I love you, but I'd love you more in a D-cup''?

LOVE AT THE OFFICE: 37 percent of workers polled in Yahoo! HotJobs' 2006 ``Love in the Workplace'' survey have kissed a co-worker. Only 34 percent of respondents said they would be willing to take it to the next level and date a colleague. Fifty-four percent of employers said their offices no longer discourage dating among employees.

THE DARK SIDE: More than 36 million heart-shape boxes of chocolate will be given as presents this Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation. (See previous obesity comment.)

THE DARKER SIDE: If all this talk of Valentine's Day is bringing you down, you're not alone. According to a Market & Opinion Research International survey, ``almost one in 10 people under 25 years old feels depressed, insecure, inadequate or unwanted on Valentine's Day,'' and ``four times as many men as women feel pressurized by their partner into giving a card or gift'' for the holiday. Makes you want to eat chocolate.

Rob Lowman, (818) 713-3687

robert.lowman(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Feb 14, 2006
Words:1117
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