by Jim Harris

Contrary to the lyrics of most teenage love songs, you can’t live on love alone. Not unless you have the lifespan of a flying ant, which lives for about three weeks and spends the entire time making whoopee. Yet love is still the most important thing in most people’s lives — more important even than television, rap music or asparagus.

Therefore, on this Valentine’s Day, as we celebrate the timeless allure of love, I’d like to share some hard-learned relationship tips with my fellow men. Who am I, you might ask, to presume to tell others about relationships? Well, for one thing, I’ve been in love over 600 times. It got so out of control that at one point, I even fell in love with a girl who had bladder control problems. And that was one of my more successful relationships!

So they don’t call me “Doctor Love” for nothing. And by “they,” I of course mean the voices in my head, which is where I get most of my information. Additionally, I have read all 12 of Mickey Rooney’s autobiographies, and I have studied with Doctor Ruth, Doctor Phil, Jerry Springer, Jerry Blavat and Jerry Lewis. Now that you know my qualifications, here are some things you need to watch out for on a first date. When dating a woman for the first time, proceed with extreme caution if she:

• Gargles her wine.

• Talks to her food.

• Says her favorite vacation spot is Viagra Falls.

• Is less popular in her own family than colonoscopies.

• Smells like cigarettes, bourbon or burning rubber.

• Tells you to wear condoms just for the warmth.

• Falls asleep while you’re talking to her.

• Has a man’s name tattooed in giant letters on her neck, even if it’s your name.

• Especially if it’s your name.

• Her ring tone is a funeral march.

• Her computer is so old that when she calls tech support, she gets an American on the phone.

Try not to date old hippie chicks if they have names like Windy, Puff, Smokey, Buzz, Moonshine, Stoney, Doobie or Patches. These groovy appellations may have had cool connotations back in the ’60s, but today they just spell trouble.

Above all, never date anyone from a crime family. Even if you’re not philosophically opposed to crime, or even if you, too, are from a crime family. It’s just a bad idea. If she has grown relatives with names like “Little Nicky,” “Bugsy” or “Tony Two-Face,” you don’t want these outlaws for in-laws. I once dated a girl named Listerine from South Philly whose brother, “Jimmy Potatoes,” once gave me money to spend on his sister that had been laundered by drug pushers in a box of detergent.

And a word of warning to you married guys. Just because you’ve won her doesn’t mean you can take her for granted. Take heed if your wife’s grocery list says: “potatoes, corn, brussels sprouts, skim milk, poison husband.”

And if you haven’t gotten her a Valentine’s gift yet, get yourself to the nearest dollar store ASAP and buy something like a chocolate teddy bear or a gravy dish with pictures of cherubs on it. Women love that stuff. And if you are a student, remember that it’s OK to have a crush on your teacher unless you’re being home-schooled.

And even if your date really burns your biscuits, do not have intimate relations with her on top of your car because you may get a ticket for speeding. And do NOT have a girlfriend who has friends in Al Queda, even if she says you’re the only man who can find her Jihad spot.

Of course, if romantic love is not for you, there are other options. Cosmic love is much easier than romantic love. You never have to worry about hurting the universe’s feelings, or having the universe leave you for another universe.

It’s also easier to love deities than mere mortals. They don’t require you to get tattoos or monogrammed license plates. But in the end, I guess we’re doomed, er, destined, to need romance for as long as we all shall live.

Finally, here is my suggestion on how to make a small fortune from dating women you meet over the computer: Start out with a large fortune!

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