Five Key West Valentine’s gifts that aren’t chocolate

Here to ensure you’re doing your part to stimulate this “great” economy is a locally sourced shopping guide for the coupled, tripled (open relationships can be revelatory) and single among us on this day of love. Since, you know, love is so scarce, we should confine our professions of adoration to once a year. Best of luck with your dinner reservations!

A Whimsical Heart Not Made of Chocolate

A friend suggested gifting the kaleidoscopic middle finger designed by local marketing consultant and artist Barbara Sage. True, it could be a glorious thing to bestow to exes or wider society. However, that design only exist as stickers. Moving on, if you’re going to purchase something a bit more sculptural and weighty, then consider Sage’s multicolored hearts, complete with a sensory mish-mash of subtle imagery. As she explained, the hearts were the start of Whimsy Key West, helping keep the brand’s origin story somewhat romantic. After creating them as gifts for friends and family last Christmas, the piqued interest from buyers who saw the artworks ensured that Sage would be busy increasing her supply in time for this heart heavy holiday.



A “Tutu” Sort of Surprise

22& Co. (504 Angela St.)

Fancy the newly relocated and positively adorable 22&Co. “Tutu” bar just off Duval? One of the more successful recent additions to the downtown scene, this explosion of tulle and disco balls has become a hit among locals and visitors. Less than $10 will get you your own tutu wearing Cupid — in theory — for the day of romance. The nominal fee guarantees that your significant other (or yourself) receives a cocktail token good for any alcoholic beverage, crafts and an enveloped message posted across the country. Better yet, if your recipient is local, some very confident soul will be hand delivering the loot in what will probably be one of the slickest marketing ploys on view that day.



Front Row Center at Comedy Key West

Bottlecap’s Blue Room (1128 Simonton St.)

Mask the pain of your loneliness with the stench of other people’s woes. Namely, the performers at Comedy Key West. These self-deprecating aficionados offer a peek into how much worse things can actually get while regaling you with their stupendous tales of relationship misfires. Happily partnered? Then let’s see how strong your bond really is when you grab a table for two up front. Any shiny couple hinting of a honeymoon glow will surely catch the eyes of one or two performers who may want to involve you in their set. Comedians can prove adept at finding the most insecure attendees and poking them where they’re most vulnerable. It’s interesting to see how pairs (and progressive trios) hold up when the limelight is cast upon them. Will you walk out? Will you nervously chuckle along? The truth hurts. And can be absolutely hilarious in the process.

22 & CO.

22 & CO.

Hanky Panky

Graffiti (721 Duval St.) & Vignette (526 Southard St.)

It’s common wisdom that heterosexual men will hold out till Christmas for their hole-y ritual of discarding devastated underwear. Upend this annual ceremony with a preemptive gift of undies. Neil Chamberlain, owner of menswear store Graffiti, recommends adding some “sparkle” to your love life with a risqué red jock or subliminally messaged trunks with cheeky lip prints. As for some of the best women’s essentials, check out chic boutique Vignette. Co-owner Tania Cole offers the “super comfy and flattering” designs of Hanky Panky, a brand that boasts “The World’s Most Comfortable Thong.” Cole explains, “We like to be comfortable and panty-line free but feminine and sexy too. So, they do the job.” Also on hand are Wacoal bras and underwear alongside a healthy offering of bralettes, which are great for the approaching onslaught of summer heat.



Glimpse Your Dysfunctional Future

Mallory Square

Will your relationship be pierced by a Three of Swords? Perhaps it’ll be a triumph heralded by The Sun. Half therapy, half mystic, a tarot card reading by one of the island’s best, Ronald Augustine, could provide the information dump you need to reach that next level of co-dependency or make a decisive break. Whether you believe in it or not, I guarantee you’ll find your own semi-private reading (tourists love to gawk) entertaining. As an auxiliary perk, you and or your significant other gain the best seats in the house to view a southernmost sunset.

Bonus: A Skeptic’s Suggestion

This holiday always unearths at least one skeptic (not really, it’s more in the thousands). Here with their own gift suggestions is a local anonymous bystander to innumerable train wrecks. “Valentine’s Day is designed for the sheep of the world. If



Valentine’s Day had a theme song it would be Justin Bieber’s latest stroke of genius, “Yummy.” So, what are my suggestions? Do you. Be your own Valentine. Shut off social media and go to the beach. Volunteer somewhere.

Hug those you love. Go buy your special person or people a piece of art. One of my favorite local artists is Kristen Norman. Go to the Bottlecap and have a laugh. The important thing to remember is that we should not need a day to tell us when to show love to people we love. Just love if you want to, spend time and put some effort into the gifts you give. ¦





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