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When it comes to men and women, no single day is more polarizing than the 14th of February. So we asked five brave guys to give us their honest opinions on what the holiday means to them.

This Feb. 14, millions of guys around the world will be buying grossly marked-up roses, browsing through heart-festooned greeting-card shelves, booking last-minute tables at Italian restaurants and bidding that very special someone in their life a Happy Valentine’s Day. What’s wrong with this time-honored scenario? Absolutely nothing if you’re a florist, a Hallmark copywriter, a 12-and-under kid, a fictitious winged baby with a crossbow, or a solid majority of the fairer sex.Which basically leaves us with men.

“I have nothing against Valentine’s Day,” my friend Mark recently claimed when I mentioned I was doing a survey about what guys really think of Feb. 14. “Seriously, if you’re going to be recording this conversation, I love Valentine’s Day just the way it is.”

And there’s the rub: If you’re a guy, reviling Valentine’s Day on record requires unearthly courage, true grit and the sort of boneheaded candor reserved for old curmudgeons breaking news to innocent children about Easter bunnies and Christmas elves. Anyway, it wasn’t just Mark. No one wanted to talk to me about it. “The stakes are just too high,” one subject told me. “I’m not risking my relationship over this.”

Finally, after waivers were signed and firm promises made that only first names would be used, I found a few men who would speak on deep background. What follows are anonymous, never-before-revealed views on Valentine’s Day from five randomly selected men. What they say might surprise you.

CHARLIE San Pedro, Calif.
When I wake up in the morning and hear “Happy Valentine’s Day,” the first thought that jumps into my head is: That this is an alien, mass-societal ritual which nonetheless must be adhered to at all costs. Then, suddenly, I envision Kevin James performing his famous pantomime of a woman painstakingly picking out the most darling greeting card with the perfect message. Then I open my eyes and say, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

What Valentine’s Day means to me, in a sentence or two: That the sinister cabal run by Hallmark, Hershey’s, the National Restaurant Association and Madison Avenue has won this round, but tomorrow is another day.

If a proposition were introduced to abolish Valentine’s Day, I’d: Still urge men to keep it because who knows what sort of even more horrifyingly manufactured day it would be replaced with? But what would I change about it? I’d have Cupid himself decree that there be no more candy, gooey cards or tangible manifestations of undying devotion whatsoever. Instead, there would be a quantum increase in general hugging, expanded to include everyone I meet in the course of that day.

My dream PG-13–rated version of Valentine’s Day is: Jumping out of a plane holding hands with my wife. Failing that, a personalized card and a carefully prepared meal (her favorite) with some Luther Vandross in the quiet of our home will have to do. If the sincere sentiment behind it is acted upon throughout the year, I suppose there’s no real harm in following Valentine’s Day protocol.

THOM Portland, Ore.
When I wake up in the morning and hear “Happy Valentine’s Day,” the first thought that jumps into my head is: I am so glad I knocked off this obligation online so I don’t have to be one of those lemmings picking through flower bins.

What Valentine’s Day means to me, in a sentence or two: Here’s yet another mundane “celebration” wholly removed from any genuine cultural underpinnings. If you need Valentine’s Day and a Hallmark message to express your feelings, something has gone terribly wrong in your personal life.

If a proposition were introduced to abolish Valentine’s Day, I’d: Just vote to keep the darned thing, having learned too many times that it’s far easier to hunker down and live with petty nuisances than to fight them.My dream PG-13–rated version of Valentine’s Day is: This implies that Valentine’s Day is more special than any other day to me. It’s not. So, here’s what I want: 1) Wake up after a good night’s sleep. 2) Get some work done during the day with a minimum of e-mail and phone interference, and have enough time left to work out. 3) Do a happy hour somewhere. 4) Have a nice meal at home. 5) Catch up on my DVRing. My wife should be involved in no more or fewer than three of these activities.