Just in time for Valentine's Day, this news: Romance is dead.
If you get flowers, candy or a card tomorrow, it will be an act of rote. A habit, or somebody's idea of what to do to keep the peace.
"It's not a nice picture out there," says Gerald Celente, founder of Trends Research and publisher of The Trends Journal. He keeps track of demographics and cultural behaviors.
"It is everywhere we look," he said. "People aren't treating each other lovingly. Romance is off limits."
What can you say about the nature of love in this country when "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" receives an Oscar for best song, he argues.
"And where, if couples are seen holding hands, somebody yells, 'Get a room,'" said Celente in a telephone interview from Rhinebeck, N.Y.
The kids have bought into a hook-up culture, where sex is just one step above a handshake, and the grown-ups are too tired and stressed to exchange even a peck on the cheek at the end of the day, Celente said.
"People are busy taking care of themselves. They don't have anything left to take care of someone else's needs.
"It is really a metaphor for a much bigger story," he said.
Pretty grim, huh?
Celente says Valentine's Day has ceased to be a romantic holiday just as Christmas has ceased to be a religious - or even family - holiday.
Instead, Valentine's Day is a day of obligation. "1-800-send- flowers," Celente says. "Nobody is putting anything out there. It is an empty scene."
Celente says that pop culture, particularly television, is responsible for debasing romantic love. "The stuff on TV is phony, cheap titillation. There's no emotional love. The housewives are desperate. Romance is dead in this country."
But hope dies hard, especially in the heart of Celente, who considers himself - divorced and 60 - one of the last great dates.
What are Celente's plans for the holiday? He's taking a woman friend to dinner, and he is going to treat her like a queen, he said.
"I am a romantic. I can't help myself. I am the perfect date."
Here's one woman's vote for putting the Valentine back in Valentine's Day.
We don't need a dozen roses on Feb. 14. Simply hold the door for us and brush a kiss across our hair as we enter.
Save the flowers for March 14. Call and suggest dinner out on April 14. Buy a sweet card on May 14.
If Celente is right and all the romance has been drained from Valentine's Day, maybe we can find it in the other 364 days of the year.