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FebruaryFebruary. It’s back. Just when we thought we’d seen the last of it, it crept back into our lives without warning (well, apart from the 50 million calendars predicting its annual return, that is). And now — in the cold, dark of winter (at least here in D.C.) — it’s back with a vengeance, spewing its candy hearts and chocolate-covered strawberries all over the place. How disgusting.

Fellow singles: Let Operation Little Pink Heart officially commence. 

Like other sophisticated military operations, it is of highest importance to follow these plans with precision. “All in or nothing,” as the motto of this sixth branch of the military goes. Say it with me: All in or nothing. For the sake of our safety, our emotional health, and our collective sanity, please read the details of this operation below, and follow them for the rest of the month.

(1) Avoid CVS, Walgreens, and grocery store candy aisles at all costs. If you’ve already stepped foot in any of these establishments since January 2, take a cold shower, Purell your entire body, and watch three episodes of The First 48 (specifically the ones featuring investigations into romance turned gruesome homicide). The aisles of these stores are particularly pink and red, making it impossible to pick up some Halls cough drops or a Snapple Iced Tea without being bombarded by cuddly teddy bears, bags of love-colored M&Ms, and Hallmark cards galore. It’s nauseous, made bearable only by the fact that the Pepto is conveniently located two aisles down. Best case scenario: Hit up the 7-Eleven for your food and drug needs for a few weeks. The milk is overpriced, but they’re surprisingly welcoming to singles.

(2) If you see a street vendor selling single red roses, run. They have an agenda and it’s much deeper than simply raking in three bucks per stem. The thorns aren’t just on the roses; they’re also in the darting glares from each of these vendors as they yell, “Roses! Get your roses!” All the while, they know full well that you’re single. It’s evident in the way you walk, the way you bury your head in a book or shut off the world with a pair of earbuds. The hot dog vendor? He’s fine. The city souvenirs lady? She’s cool. But the guy with the roses? Run.

(3) Take extra advantage of free Valentine’s candy strewn around by overzealous co-workers. Trying to change the behavior of the people you work with is literally impossible. I’ve tried it and I continue to be sprayed with Lysol on a regular basis. So, if you can’t fix Elaine from Accounting and her school teacher fixation with wearing flashing cupid pins, the least you can do is eat all her candy. The little candy hearts with fortune-cookie-esque messages, the red-foil-wrapped mini chocolates, the mystery-filling assorted chocolates in a heart-shaped box — eat it all. February is, after all, the month where the accuracy of scales is compromised by the pull of the moon and the winter equinox. It’s science.

Celine Dion(4) Do not, under any circumstances, listen to “All By Myself” by Celine Dion, “Everybody Hurts” by REM, or “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. Turn off your Adele Pandora station. Take that Toni Braxton cassette out of your car’s tape deck and throw it out the window. Psychologists have studied the power of depressing love ballads in altering the body’s ability to produce endorphins, and those studies concluded. (Whether or not they concluded anything helpful to this cause is not yet known, but the studies definitely concluded in general.) The truth is that we don’t need a fancy study to know that music is a powerful thing, which explains why a single tear automatically falls from my left eye the second I hear “Let Her Cry” by Hootie and the Blowfish. Bottom line: For this month, listen solely to Kanye West’s “Stronger.” On repeat. The end.

(5) Screen all calls by any family member, friend, neighbor, or stranger who has children to mitigate the risk of being asked to babysit. For the hundreds of millions of couples in the world with kids, Valentine’s Day presents the dire need for someone to watch those little brats “gifts from above.” Logistically, single people who don’t have kids are apparently available to take on the task. Kids are great and all, but there’s something depressing about sitting around watching Disney Channel and changing diapers while the rest of the world is eating steak and making out.

Operation Little Pink Heart is the first of its kind — an open source military operation. If you have something to add, do share in the comments below. If your insight saves even one fellow single from wallowing in self pity over a TV dinner and back-to-back airings of The Notebook on the Hallmark Channel, it will be worth it. Thank you in advance.

Singles, unite. February’s got nothing on us!

~Ruth