Celebrate National Singles Week

Nobody sent me a card, but it's National Singles Week — a time for mothers, fathers and everyone else to appreciate their unmarried friends.

Some people might think that National Singles Week is a bogus event created by the greeting card industry, after failing to launch Second Cousins Day.

Others might say unmarried people don't need a holiday — they can celebrate their unyoked freedom every day of their lives.

The truth is, National Singles Week was started in Ohio back in 1984 to appreciate the growing ranks of unmarried Americans, who are now 96 million strong, or 43 percent of the U.S. population age 15 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why should we celebrate singlehood? For one thing, it was once considered a shame to grow old without a spouse. Nowadays, two out of every three single people have never wed. Unmarried Americans deserve a day of national recognition.

Singlehood might not require the same sacrifices as parenthood. But let's consider that 12.2 million Americans are single parents, and their jobs as mothers and fathers are doubly difficult.

I say singlehood is cause to celebrate, and I plan to honor the holiday by taking my girlfriend out to dinner. Who knows? We might not be single forever.

Let's just consider National Singles Week a second Valentine's Day, especially for those of us who stay single far into adulthood.

And for those of us who can appreciate the increasingly complicated world of dating, check out these developments in the ritual of courtship.

1. Talking Flower Bouquets: Want to really look rosy? Just have your picture emblazoned on a rose petal. The technology exists.

At SpeakingRoses.com, they've patented a process that will allow you to print anything you wish on a flower petal. Want to say, "I love you" with roses? Now you really can.

With just a day's notice, SpeakingRoses.com can ship personalized flowers virtually anyplace in the United States. For $59.99, you can get a summer sun bouquet of yellow lilies and orange roses that say "congratulations."

For an extra $20, that same arrangement can be personalized with any picture and any written message.

I'm sure Shakespeare would agree that a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet as those that proclaim, "I love Shakespeare."

2. Democrat-Only Love: Can someone who loves George W. Bush fall in love with a John Kerry supporter? If you think it's best to toe the party line when it comes to personal politics, you can start looking for love next week on two politically charged Web sites.

Kerry supporters can find each other on DemocraticDating.com, while Bush fans can hook up on RepublicanDating.com.

"You can cross party lines, but don't you think you'll be happier with someone who sees things the way you do when it comes to issues like the death penalty, gun control and abortion?" says April Masini, author of the AskApril advice column.

Of course there are all sorts of specialty dating services. Vegetarians have Veggiedate.com. There's Cowboyheart.com and EquestrianSingles.com if you ride a horse, and Harley-Match.com if ride a hog.

You and your pup can seek double dates on DoggieDating.com.

But Masini believes that politics is what divides people, even more than religion. "If you wouldn't consider voting outside your party," she says, "you certainly won't be happy dating outside your party."

What about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver? "There are exceptions," Masini says. "They're not the sort of couple you see every day."

3. Male Home Fertility Testing: Ladies, now you don't have to be the only ones to worry about the tick-tock of your biological clock. A new home testing kit allows men to check their fertility.

With the EleMENt testing kit from Pria Diagnostics, skittish men can test how well their little sailors are swimming — an issue very important to those who plan fatherhood for later in life.

The $40 kit — currently undergoing Food and Drug Administration testing — costs a fraction of traditional lab tests and is said to have 95 percent accuracy.

You might want to buy it now. You gray, balding bachelors aren't getting any younger. 4. Go Spam Yourself: Thankfully, technology is giving us all sorts of ways to brush off a poor sod who can't take a hint. Years ago, you could give a guy the wrong phone number. Now, you can give him an e-mail address from PaperNapkin.net.

When the annoying guy writes you, he'll automatically get the "Dear John" e-mail of a lifetime.

"If you got this e-mail address, it wasn't an accident … you've definitely been rejected," the letter says.

The best part: You don't need to register. Every name followed by "@PaperNapkin.net" works automatically. Want to get rejected from me? Just e-mail Buck@PaperNapkin.net. 5. Personal Ad Makeovers: If your love life needs a boost, and you're not quite ready for cosmetic surgery, the next best thing for online daters might be this — a personal ad makeover. Online dating is now a $1 billion-a-year industry, and it's given rise to new professions — personal ad ghostwriters and photographers who will make you more beautiful and more interesting.

Any photo can be digitally manipulated to whisk away rolls of fat and wrinkles. Many online daters simply post old pictures. When you meet them in person they're 10 years older, 30 pounds heavier and bald.

"There are a lot of ethical questions," says Karen Berntson, co-founder of Noticeyou.com, a photo service just for Internet daters.

"It's easy enough to deceive someone, but what's the point? You eventually have to meet."

In response to rampant fraud, dating services like Match.com and True.com are working on methods to certify the accuracy of pictures on their Web sites. Consider it a move toward truth in advertising.

"If you go to the trouble to sign up for a dating service, you want a real photographer," Berntson says. "If you get married, you'd hire a pro, not to make you look like someone else, but to picture you at your best."

Of course, if you're recently divorced, you can always use your wedding photograph, assuming you can cut your spouse out of the picture. "Don't laugh," Berntson says. "People do that."

6. Online Cyranos on Call: Even if you're happy with your face, you can't post an online personal ad without a self description. Can't write? Don't worry. For centuries, people have been getting help with love notes. These days, Cyrano is online.

Sites like ProfileDoctor.com read your personal ad and send feedback within 48 hours — for just $28.

One tip: Never describe yourself as "attractive" or "caring," says founder David Evans. "Everybody does that," he says. "It's better to let other people make those judgments. It's better to get really specific about what you care about."

Still, the question remains, how many dates do you go on before you tell someone that you had professional photographers and writers polish your online image? When it comes to love, perhaps some things are best left unspoken.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to be notified when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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