This V-Day, instead of wasting your money on crap to woo someone with or whoring yourself out to the first available man, woman, or beast willing to accept your pricey little trinkets, blow your wad on yourself. Look into self-love, and splurge a little. You could buy some fancy flora or trite chocolates, but try to stay away from things that will die or make you fat. You're going for what feels good here. There are the obvious quick fixes for personal pleasure: manicures, pedicures, a trip to the beauty salon or health spa, assorted massages, even acupuncture. There are candles and bubbly (baths and beverages), or a tasteful evening with an expensive wine and a naughty novel.

Then there are the items that Skip Payne, general manager of the Adult Video Megaplexx, refers to as "lifestyle enhancements," which range from silly novelties to raunchy accessories, and vibrating, rotating, throbbing members of the "toy" category. "Our biggest week of the year is the week of Valentine's Day," says Payne. "We sell a ton of things: games, lingerie, and, of course, an assortment of toys. And we sell a lot of batteries.

"It's a shame that people only think about buying these things on Valentine's Day," continues Payne, adding that the Megaplexx sells 750 to 1,000 batteries in an average week, more during Valentine's Day. "They should really think about it all the time." Apparently, some people are thinking about it - at least for an extended period of time.

It might tickle your fancy to know that the sale or purchase of vibrators or other such "obscene devices" as a dildo or an artificial vagina are outlawed in the state of Texas (and Georgia). To quickly differentiate between a vibrator and a dildo: A vibrator has a battery-powered "buzz," and a dildo does not. Owning and concealing a handgun - another phallic object - is perfectly legal in the Lone Star state but, according to the Texas Penal Code, "A person who possesses six or more obscene devices, a device including a dildo or artificial vagina, designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs, or identical or similar obscene articles, is presumed to possess them with the intent to promote the same." It is, however, acceptable to purchase and own a "personal massager," so long as you don't intend to rub yourself the "wrong" way with it.

That said, if you don't know how to wield the mighty power of your new "personal massager" (or 8-inch, life-like, flesh-toned jelly dong, if you're Internet savvy), you can seek professional advice and recommendations from resident sex educator and psychotherapist Cay Crow at the Shades of Love, an adult boutique. You may be on your own for V-Day, but the store hosts "Girlfriend-to-Girlfriend," a regular forum for women on the last Wednesday of the month. "It's a great, laid-back way to get educated," says Rose Delgado, head of sales at the Shades of Love. "Our counselor comes in, and women can discuss anything: intimacy problems, how to become more orgasmic, how to use toys. You have to be at least 21 to attend, and we have women in here up to age 60." (The monthly evenings also feature the Texas Stallions, a male entertainment group that strips down to its skivvies for a quick buck.)

And don't worry: You can't be busted by the Puritan Police Squad for learning a little self-love. So don't be shy. Run right out and buy a great, big, pulsating love pump today. •

11am-7:30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-7pm Sat, noon-5pm Sun
300 W. Bitters, Suite 150

The Shades of Love has held informative how-to classes on "lite S&M," BDSM, and stripping. In March, the Shades of Love will feature informative classes led by doctors from the University of Texas Health Science Center, focusing on STDs, sex over 50, sexual dysfunction, and cunnilingus. For a complete class schedule, contact owner Rita Delgado at the Shades of Love.

6:30-5am daily
9405 IH-35 North

General Manager Skip Payne wants women to know that the Megaplexx isn't your average adult video store. "Our business is running about 35 to 40 percent female," he says. "We have quite an acceptance factor. Woman can walk around here comfortably, without worrying about being approached, offended, harassed, or grossed out. We really monitor and control that kind of thing here."

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