Men hate Valentine’s Day. The flowers, the last-minute reservations scramble, the forced romance: the whole thing is basically just another blown anniversary waiting to happen (Exhibit A: “What to Get My Booty Call”). So this year, The Closer reclaims February 14th on behalf of the males of the species. I plan to order pizza, drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, and watch Kansas take on Colorado in NCAA hoops. Mrs. Closer is welcome to join me, but I will be mortally wounded if I don’t receive gifts. Forget the lame flowers and candy; any of the following luxuries (singled out after painstaking research in sports stores, gadget emporiums, catalogs, and other manly environments) will suffice.
by Jeff Ruby
photo of gifts for men

a. SkyScout handheld instant star and constellation identifier
$399 at American Science & Surplus (5316 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-763-0313)  What it is: Small gadget that uses GPS locating, three axis sensors, and a built-in digital astronomy database to identify more than 6,000 celestial objects when pointed at the night sky. That’s approximately 5,998 more than he could normally identify.

b. View-Video Eyewear
$349.95 at The Sharper Image (Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-335-1600)  What it is: Plop your guy in his favorite chair, put a pair of these nifty glasses on him, and plug them into the TV. The image he sees will be that of a crystal-clear, 43-inch flat panel LCD screen viewed from six and a half feet away-no matter how lousy your old Samsung is.

c. A case of chardonnay with his face on the label
$200 on  What it is: Windsor Vineyards (Tiburon, California) allows you to upload any image you want to place on bottles, so long as it is not “unlawful; harmful; threatening; abusive; vulgar; harassing; defamatory; obscene; pornographic; indecent; inflammatory; libelous; torturous; hateful; or racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable.” If his face is any of these things, you’re on your own.

d. Flybar 1200
$379 at Wilmette Bicycle & Sport Shop (605 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette; 847-251-1404)  What it is: A hyperactive pogo stick equipped with 12 rubber thrusters that operate like a trampoline, bouncing your man more than five feet in the air.  Maybe he can clean the gutters while he’s up there.

e. Arcade Legends full-size game system
$2,999 at The Great Escape (1490 S. Elmhurst Rd., Mount Prospect; 847-952-1799)  What it is: Arcade-size machine by Chicago Gaming Company, featuring 35 classic video games, including Missile Command, Centipede, Street Fighter II, Tempest, and other diversions he loved before he met you.

f. One-minute drink chiller
$89.95 on  What it is: Six-pound device that can cool a can of beer to 38° F in mere minutes. The 12-volt car adapter (included) makes the chiller ideal for that time-honored male pastime of sneaking alcohol into sporting events.

g. Potty Putter
$19.95 on  What it is: This miniature putting green and golf club are specifically designed for lengthy toilet sojourns (as if he didn’t take long enough in there already). Comes with Do Not Disturb sign; last shred of dignity sold separately.            

Photography: (SkyScout) courtesy of Celestron, (View-Video Eyewear) courtesy of The Sharper Image, (Flybar) courtesy of Flybar, (drink chiller) courtesy of Revolutionary Cooling Systems, (Arcade Legends) courtesy of Chicago Gaming Company, (Potty Putter) courtesy of