Roses trussed up in nylon netting. A riot of headache-pink hearts. Love poems that would have made Shakespeare choke on his own vomit. Yes, it's V-Day in Hong Kong. For Lai See, its essence was captured late last month during a conversation with friend and fund manager, Simon. When we mentioned the imminent outpouring of cash and love, his eyes grew vague. 'Valentine's Day . . .' he said. 'When is it this year, anyway?' Ah, romance in the SAR. Don't be fooled by the media hype, with its poetry contests and soppy films. If you want real state-of-the-heart information, skip the sonnets and flip open the classifieds. As usual, HK Magazine's latest crop of 'women seeking men', is dominated by the cuddly toy brigade on a quest for husbands. Also as usual, the 'men seeking women' section is dominated by bored husbands on a quest for mistresses. This one is typical: 'attractive 6' westerner, 35, married and frustrated, seeks attractive, married or single woman for an affair'. Another Prince Charming is looking for love and companionship 'while spouse is out of the country for six months'. Then there are those offering fabulous, no holds barred sex without the hassle of a relationship. As in: 'Lonely 39-year-old Asian male seeking sex without any strings attached. Let's feel love without conditions'. A European in his late 30s kindly offers 'anything goes sex'. The lady's marital status is (surprise, surprise) of no importance to him. Once again, the proffered romp is string free. How refreshing. Lai See is so tired of the bar scene, where men just won't put out unless you promise them its going to lead somewhere. 'I'm sorry,' the strings-attached men shout over the Joe Bananas din. 'But I'm not that kind of guy. And you really ought to be wearing underwear. It's cold outside.' To balance out our overview of the classifieds, we suppose we should include something from the female side. This one appealed to us. It seems to have been written in some sort of code, perhaps by a lonely ex-Soviet spy: 'Western Lady in search of a White Raven: a nice Russian man without an alcohol addiction. Failing that, a nice man with interests in Russian, volcanoes and new models. Army will do.' Hmmmm. Whatever. Back to Valentine's Day. While our crop of want ad hopefuls awaits that special voice mail, the spod brigade has been busily seeking cyber-love. 'Roses are red, violets are blue, aol.com.hk brings romance to you,' says one Web site's promotional leaflet. Customers there can 'Find the One you love' with the help of a cyber-dating service. But what happens when they actually have to meet? Most net junkies have all the charm and charisma of George Bush. That's where the 'Dating for Geeks' steps in, providing helpful hints on computer courting. And here's what spod love holds in store once the perfect match is found and conquered: 'Send music-themed bouquets to your Valentine, get ready to be seduced by the handsome and amorous skunk, Pepe Le Pew, or wing your way to the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and get married in Elvis Blue Hawaii style!' (This from the 'perfect gift' category, in case you were wondering.) We are relieved, however, to find that not every spod has fallen prey to February's carnival of commercialism. A cynic at Alt.Suicide. Holiday has created a 'Valentine's Day Survival Kit'. This suggests techniques for making the festival of love seem a little bit less like passing through the gates of Hell. Here's our favourite. March up to a starry eyed couple in mid-cuddle. Then shout the following words at one of them: 'Why didn't you call me? You told me our passionate night together was only the beginning! And who is this person?' To spice up the game, try shouting this at the person whose gender matches your own. For her part, Lai See plans to spend Valentine's Day adhering to a personal tradition. She will first gather about her a group of independent and fascinating female friends. Said group will then discuss various political and philosophical issues, including a historic analysis of the Valentine's Day tradition. Many shots of tequila will be consumed as we express our contempt for this blatantly commercial farce. Lai See will then stagger home. There she will phone up all her ex-boyfriends long distance, try and get back together with every one of them, and pass out on the couch.