But what if she donned one of those for church?



Next year, I’ve got you gentlemen out there covered if want to get your Valentine something more original than the box of chocolates and the bouquet of cheap roses you picked up at the gas station on the way home tonight (Feb. 13), in a panic, because you’d forgotten, once again, to plan ahead and buy something meaningful to mark the romantic occasion.

According to an article carried last week on the Huffington Post website, a designer named Daan Roosegaarde has come up with a woman’s dress — the Intimacy 2.0 — that becomes transparent when she’s in the mood.

Apparently, the fabric is something called “smart e-foil” that reacts to an increase in body heat due to a jump in heart rate by turning from its opaque natural state to transparent gauze. The designer is quick to point out that lots of other things might cause the reaction, like mowing the lawn in the dress, dancing vigorously, or watching a scary movie, but those might not be deal breakers — and in some situations might be the realization of an ideal.

Unfortunately, the dress exists only in prototype at this point, but there’s speculation it could be available commercially in a year or so. Meanwhile, Roosegaarde is working on a male version that becomes transparent when its wearer tells a lie (limited market potential, in my opinion), and is looking for designers to develop the Intimacy 3.0 fashion line for men and women. It sounds like there’s a possibility they could be available in time for the next Super Bowl halftime show (“No, it wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction. The wardrobe was functioning just as intended.”).

I should point out that none of this means anything to me, other than providing a good laugh on a snowy day. I’m much too old and geezerish for this kind of nonsense, and if I sent one of these dresses to my Valentine, she’d likely whop me upside the head with a 2 by 4. I’m firmly in the dozen roses and box of chocolates camp, and I usually throw in a doggerel poem as an added bonus. The last one started like this:

Roses are red

Violets are blue.

I’ll play you a love song

On my ten-cent kazoo.

It went on from there for 24 glorious stanzas, but I won’t inflict it on you in its entirety (although I will share it if you write me a note and ask nicely). Point is, I’m so far out of the target market for this clothing line that I’m practically an alien life form, although had these dresses been available many decades ago when I was in limited circulation, they might have clarified certain ambiguous situations.

As my Valentine has pointed out on many occasions, when it came to being able to tell when a member of the opposite sex was flirting with me, I was as thick as the proverbial brick. (As she noted in a recent missive when we were discussing this newfangled dress and related flirting issues: “Honey, even with a gal’s hand this close, you couldn’t tell that she was flirting.”). Had the flirtee been wearing one of these “smart e-foil” dresses, however, her intentions might have parted the thick cloud of obliviousness that apparently enveloped me 24/7. “I see by your outfit that you are — NOT A COWBOY!!”

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As I have pointed out in the past, there’s no gender equality on Valentine’s Day, at least when it comes to spending, and this year was predicted to be even more lopsided. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending this Valentine’s Day was estimated to be a whopping $17.6 billion (up 10 percent from last year), with the average person spending $126. Unfortunately for those of us of the male persuasion, those numbers are simply the average, and do not reflect the fact that men tend to be extravagant on Valentine’s Day, and women — not to put too fine a point on it — are sort of cheapskates. This year, the average male was expected to spend $168.74 on his girlfriend or significant other, and the average woman was expected to shell out a measly $80, give or take a few cents. Some of my readers out there should be ashamed of themselves, and I think you know who you are.

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One of the most interesting pieces of proposed legislation to come out of Trenton recently was the bill proposed by state Sen. Jim Holzapfel (R-Ocean) that would ban the future construction of the state’s ubiquitous, and infamous, jughandles. If you live or drive here, there’s no need to explain that jughandles are our solution to left-hand turns off busy roads, but Holzapfel and others say they don’t function properly and cause more problems than they solve. His colleagues on the Transportation Committee conducting initial consideration of the bill voted unanimously to approve it and send it to the full Senate for consideration.

“In my opinion, they belong with circles, which functioned when traffic was lighter. But with the volume of traffic we have today, they just don’t function,” Holzapfel said. “Traffic studies talk about delays to drivers, pollution and cost. In all cases, the jughandle loses. When you look at other places, they don’t use them.” Instead of jughandles, he said, the state should look at widening roads to permit left turn lanes.

So far, the state Department of Transportation hasn’t weighed in on this proposal, but Robert Noland, a professor of transportation at Rutgers University, said that although jughandles have been overused, a compromise might be in order, where planners include jughandles only as a last resort. “New Jersey is famous for its [traffic] interventions that no one likes or are ugly, but I think it’s good for a planner to have lots of approaches in their tool bag,” he said.

They’ve got roads with both traffic-control schemes in my neck of the woods, and I’ve got to say I like the left-turn lanes better. Your thoughts?

Gregory Bean may be reached by email at gbean@gmnews.com.