Valentine’s Day was conceived to get men off the hook for everything they did wrong the rest of the year.

Greeting card aisles are infested with poor suckers of all ages, shapes and sizes trying to get back in the good graces of the women in their lives. As they stand there surveying the sentimental landscape with bewildered looks on their faces, it's hard not to feel sorry for these last-minute futile attempts at trying to get it right. Yet, no matter how earnest they are, they invariably botch it up. Such Hallmark moments make this holiday an excursion down the slippery slope of love.

One woman said she broke up with her boyfriend on Valentine's Day when the card he gave her read: "To the sexiest woman I know." She was less than pleased.

"So, that's what I am to you — a sex object?"

The poor guy, who thought he was paying her a compliment, wasn't sure how to respond. Finally, he gave up and asked her what she would have preferred.

"A simple 'I love you' would have sufficed," she said.

"But I do love you."

"Why didn't you say so?"

"Because I find you sexy, too."

"There you go again," she snapped. "You're trivializing our relationship. Valentine's Day is all about love."

And that's when she told him what all women have been telling men for years: "You just don't get it."

"I chose a card with sparkles all over it,” another man told his girlfriend, hoping to redeem himself. “I paid two extra bucks for the sparkles to show you how much I care."

She rolled her eyes, "It's not a mushy card," she said. "Its a humorous card."

"Humor can be mushy, too," he asked. "Can't it?"

"Emphatically no. Mushy is meaningful. Humor is hostile. It's a known fact that on Valentine's Day you're supposed to be romantic. After all this time, I thought you knew what made me tick."

"It took me a half hour to pick out this card," he said. "Aside from the sparkles, it's loaded with hearts, and there's a poem inside."

"It's a poem written by a Hallmark poet, who's probably a struggling actor moonlighting as a waiter by night."

But it expresses how I feel," he looked confused. “Look what it says on the cover: To the woman who tickles my fancy and all my other parts.”

"That's not romantic. That's lewd."

"The guy standing next to me thought it was hilarious."

"Maybe you should have given him the card."

"You should see the one he chose for his wife. It had monkeys all over it. Not very romantic."

"That's because it's for his wife. Wives are married people. Girlfriends are single. You gave me a married card. It's tepid, not hot. Is that how you define our relationship? And," she continued, "what about the chocolates? Men give women chocolates on Valentine's Day."

"You always say you're watching your weight. I was being considerate."

"You're not supposed to be considerate on Valentine’s Day. You're supposed to be spontaneous."

"I bought you a present," he said, retrieving a small velvet box from his pocket.

The woman, immediately intrigued, peered inside. Two strange looking stones lay on a red satin cushion.

"These are my gall stones," he said. "I want you to have a part of me that no one else has."

She threw the box at him, and told him to get a life. That night over beers with the guys, he relayed the story.

"Next time, try something that makes a better impression," his buddy told him.

"Like what?"

"I gave my wife a tooth on a chain. She loves jewelry. It's my upper molar. The dentist pulled it last week."

"What did your wife say?"

"I don't know. She ran upstairs and slammed the bedroom door. I think she was overcome with emotion."

"Gee, I wish I were as cool as you," his friend said.

Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer. She can be reached at joodth@snet.net or at www.judithmarks-white.com.