Admit it. Valentine's Day is just hours away and not only have you NOT ordered a dozen roses, or made dinner reservations, you haven’t even picked out a card.
OK, don’t freak. Don’t grab your passport and hop a plane for some faraway land where locals have never heard of Valentine's Day — as attractive as that may sound.
We’re taking advice from lovers all over town. And all is not lost.
First the card.
"I find greeting cards insanely abhorrent. I much prefer handwritten words from the heart," LeonorLi Matthews Gibbs said after we posed the question on Facebook.
Of course, handwritten cards are the ultimate, but beware. They cause your lover to swoon only when you have some basic writing skills. Even love poetry tends to lose its romantic power when it's misspelled or made awkward by grammar mistakes.
So go with your strengths.
Gibbs said she doesn’t need much of a gift on V-Day, but it should be something "thoughtful and from the heart."
There's that "from the heart" thing again. Does that just increase the pressure?
Buttonwillow resident Tori Ramay said she will happily forgo baubles and bright valentine bangles for a happy memory on Valentine's Day.
"An experience!" Ramay said. "Those are the best gifts. Tickets to a concert, a Paint Nite, the Escape Room, something fun that you can do together and look forward to."
Jena Lords, of Bakersfield, agreed, and she used the math symbol for "greater than" to express her thoughts: "Experiences > Gifts."
Retired high school educator Craig Holland swears Costco is a one-stop shop for love.
"Roses and Kirkland brand chocolates all in one stop," he said, sounding like a man who has been here before. "Run her car through the car wash after you fill the tank."
OK, but sometimes flowers wrapped in plastic don't have the impact of an arrangement created by an experienced florist. So we called Conroy's Flowers on Truxtun Avenue and Oak Street to ask what choices procrastinators have.
Turns out, plenty.
"Every year we are prepared for people who shop at the last minute," said store manager Yahreni Frias. "We keep our fridge full of arrangements that are ready to pick up."
Not only that, Conroy's brings in several extra delivery drivers during this busiest of times. And while there's no guarantee, most arrangements purchased on V-Day itself can be delivered to sweethearts all across this sprawling city.
In the meantime, Conroy's keeps a refrigerated truck parked outside with enough flowers to supply Munchkin Land.
It seems these days procrastinators are a highly valued customer category.
Miranda Whitworth used rhyme to make her point.
"Amazon Prime," she wrote, "you still got time!"
One of the most interesting ideas came from area resident Brandon Hardin.
"Today I decided I'm painting the inside of the house, changing out fans and lighting, as a gift to my fiancee," Hardin said. "Different yes, fun maybe.
"She would rather have this than chocolates or dinner," he said. "It will make her happy, which is the main thing."
Other men may hate you, Brandon, for raising the bar so high. But others may learn a thing or two.
In the meantime, now we know where to go to borrow a paint roller and some masking tape.