Halloween is the “scary” holiday? Bullshit. It’s Valentine’s Day.

It’s Valentine’s Day because a large percentage of the populace loses its mind and acts in a dangerously irrational way. People fade out of touch with reality, sickened by love or, even worse, mesmerized by the prospect of love. People lay themselves bare, lying prostrate on the altar of romance, desperate to have at least one saccharine saying on those nasty Sweethearts candies apply to their lives this year.

On Halloween, people put masks on. On Valentine’s, they take masks off. The result, as anyone taking in oxygen knows, is a nakedness more emotionally and (perhaps) physically terrifying than anything Bela Lugosi could think up when he wasn’t in the depths of an opiate binge, mumbling Hungarian sweet nothings.

I’ll admit my fury stems from a $90 bill on my credit card for the delivery of a dozen “premium” roses. The real racket of this holiday is that the purchaser of such high-priced goods rarely gets the right of first inspection.

That special someone, who grinds the collective workday to a halt when flowers arrive at the office, or that dear lover who answers the doorbell of an early-morning delivery wearing pajama bottoms and a T-shirt reading “Prozac is my Jesus,” are regularly so enamored that their significant other remembered to commemorate the day that they don’t approach the petals with a discerning eye. In my semi-educated opinion, the real “keeper(s),” the One(s) that runs roughshod over the heart, can, in this moment of romantic ecstasy, find the objectivity to determine how overpriced this token of affection is and thereby pass judgment on the quality of this particular head-over-heels infatuation.

I am not one for leaving the price tags on gifts – it’s ludicrously tacky and bespeaks a severe drought of dignity – but if a rose by any other name smells as sweet, I want some credit. I can’t afford fancy jewelry, lavish vacations, gluttonous meals and rare vintages, but I can afford nice flowers, and if I’m forced by the Cupidian gods to buy them every February, I want them praised to the highest in all of their glory.

Ten years ago, a study reported in the New York Times found that prices in Manhattan went up 64 percent in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. Of course, flower sellers, wholesalers and importers all claim that it’s a simple result of supply and demand, that they can only grow so many roses without destroying the market for the rest of the days of the year. Fine.

The only reason I am disinclined to accept this rational on its face is that prices uniformly spike each year at almost every outlet to the same $65-$75 range, simultaneously and seemingly without regard to transitory outside influences. We are supposed to stomach that the day after New Year’s, without fail, the supply immediately shrinks as the demand rumbles in the distance, like a tsunami pulling lapping waves back off the beaches in anticipation of the great and terrible beast rising up and blackening the sun.

As with all things, the solution lies overwhelmingly with heterosexual women, particularly now with Prop 8 concluding that gays don’t exist, and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t like flowers and couldn’t have the capacity to love. The obsessive preeminence of the red rose as the mighty purveyor of true love and affection shackles most men to a life of penury.

If only Valentine’s Day left any room for real creativity – oh sure, women say, be spontaneous and romantic and surprise us – but any such creativity must come within the carefully refined and mysteriously un-codified rules of St. Valentine in the modern age. It’s cute to have a stuffed puppy dog waiting at the desk, provided there are roses coming later. It’s smart and cost-effective in these tough times to make a homemade dinner for a romantic picnic on the roof watching the sunset, provided the tablecloth is adorned with at least a dozen fat-petaled premium beauties. She’ll never forget going skydiving on Valentine’s Day, but if she doesn’t land in a field of roses six miles wide with stems so heavy with sexy dew they make the little Dutch flower boy with the too-big yellow clogs blush, she’ll never forgive, either.

If only investment banks, car companies and mortgage firms could find a like way to shame the public into believing that if they don’t buy their products they are 1) losers 2) degenerate, loathsome creatures not deserving of any kind of human affection 3) cheap bastards 4) never going to get laid, ever. I guarantee this would be the shortest recession of all time – as short as the time it takes to realize $90 for flowers is the best money you’ve spent in a year.