As Valentine's Day approaches, the staff of The Stranger has been reading an avalanche of submissions for our online-dating horror story essay contest. Rude men, drunk men, and bank-robbing men all feature prominently among the finalists, but the winning story, by Jessi Miles, might be the weirdest first date we've ever heard of.

"Finally that awful date has paid off," Miles joked when we contacted her about winning the cash prize. Read her short essay, as well as those by several other runners-up, here.

The Stranger has investigated many subjects before—brutal murders, political deceit, endangered species—but few journalistic forays have been quite so heart-pounding as Chase Burns's report on what those gas station "male enhancement" pills do. Do they work? Are they safe? What happens, exactly? Only one way to find out: read this.

Need a cute date idea? Nathalie Graham recently attended a cocktail-making class with her boyfriend, and she reports on what it was like here.

You know how sometimes you're on a date, and things are getting hot and heavy, and the moment is right for you-know-what, but you can't go back to their place, and you can't go back to your place? What are your other options? Rich Smith has three ideas; read them here.

Can sex toys be recycled? What do you do with an old dildo you don't want anymore? Jasmyne Keimig asks around and has a few ideas for you here.

Speaking of old dildos, dirtbag ex-boyfriends are the pits. Leilani Polk reveals a few of the hard-won lessons from two men she dated but had the wisdom not to marry—thank god. Read about it here.

If you have recently had your heart broken and you're wondering why it's having a physical effect on you, well, Katie Herzog has the answers—as well as the surprising story of what one local woman did to get over it here.

Why do sex and weed go so well together? Science has the answers: read them here.

Plus: a review of Garth Greenwell's steamy new novel full of gay sex, an art show in which roses feature prominently, a romantic musical in which vanilla ice cream is featured prominently, and a full Valentine's Day calendar.