Imagination is the only thing limiting lovers on Valentine's Day.
The choices range from the exciting to the exotic -- helicopter rides and body piercings -- but the tried and true seems to remain popular for a romantic Valentine's Day gesture.
When asked about their ideas of a romantic way to spend Valentine's Day with their significant other, many Lawrence residents would just stick with the basics -- dinner at an area restaurant or a movie and flowers.
"Of course, roses are the most popular items," said Gretel Hentschel, manager at Owens Flower Shop, 846 Ind. "We have many men customers, but also women buy them for their boyfriends."
Some early Valentine's Day shoppers are visiting local flower shops already, but Hentschel said the big rush will be Thursday and Friday.
"Enough gentlemen are educated enough to know it's not smart to wait until the last day," she said.
At the Etc. Shop, 928 Mass., men have been buying watches and sterling silver jewelry for their wives and girlfriends, said owner Linda Lester. But if that's not in your price range, Lester suggests magnets of the David and Venus statues that come with clothing accessories.
"We have a special Valentine's Day one, where you can mail it to someone and they can put it on their fridge," Lester said. "David has boxer shorts with hearts, and she has a French maid outfit. Then there's the romantic magnetic poetry. It's a little box of words that fit on the fridge or anything magnetic."
For more adventuresome men and women, a stop at Priscilla's, 1206 W. 23rd, could be in order.
"This is one of our busiest times of the year, and lingerie, as far as personal items, is always popular," said Sheri Quick, manager of Priscilla's. "We also sell a lot of games and adult magazines."
There's an even mix of students and nonstudents who search for Valentine's Day gifts at the novelty shop, Quick said. Some need help, and gentle prodding, to select the gift.
"I lead them and let them tell me what they're looking for. I ask them if they want something risque or something funny or explicit," Quick said. "Once they get to that point, they're loosened up enough to tell me what they're looking for. We have a lot of people that are embarrassed, but there's nothing abnormal about this."
For women who don't go for flowers and lingerie, Evelyn Brown's Personalized Romance Novels are an unforgettable keepsake. For $49, Brown's Swan Publishing will provide a romance novel using the buyer's (and his or her significant other's) name. For $20 more, the novel will use hair and eye colors, pet names, special songs and friends' names.
The books -- buyers can choose from a western, historical novel, Hawaiian adventure, California romance or a lottery winning adventure -- come in "G" or "PG" (the Burning Embers) versions.
"I don't do hardcore by any means, but I'd say 90 to 95 percent get the PG version, unless they're buying it for their moms," said Brown during a recent telephone interview from her home in Placentia, Calif.
"I don't do 'R' or 'X' because when you get one of these, they're so beautiful, you want to show it to everybody," she said. "I am amazed what people will tell me, though."
Brown recalls one man who described, in graphic detail, how he conceived his child in the back seat of a car with a married woman -- who wasn't his wife. They ended up divorcing their spouses and marrying, and fortunately, Brown had edited the account for the biographical book she sent to the man.
"I did the whole thing very euphemistically, which was good," Brown said. "The fella called me and said the first thing his wife did was read it to their daughter, who was 8 years old by now."
This is Brown's 10th Valentine's Day in publishing, and she sells an average of 300 books for the holiday. She runs the publishing company from her home, and although it's too late to send a completed personalized novel for this Valentine's Day, she can send a card notifying the receiver of the gift. For more information on the personalized novels, call Brown at 1-800-535-SWAN.
"Generally, it's a man who orders it for a woman, because he knows the woman reads these novels," Brown said. "Romance novels are the guilty pleasures that women don't admit they read."