On one of our first V-days together, my husband planned a night at one of my all-time favorite restaurants. I was so excited! I had worked at this restaurant briefly a few years earlier, but only to serve the people who could afford to eat there on the regular (and repeatedly send back their “improperly cooked lamb” – but that’s a whole different story for another post.) I had never eaten there as a guest, and was so stoked that I already had my meal picked out. So, the big night came. We were off to the restaurant!
We sat down at our table, which was set with a candle and some pretty flowers. Before we even ordered our drink I noticed the paper menu with the “Pre Fixe Specials for Valentine’s Day!” sitting on my plate – which, of course, did not include the meal I had mentally salivated over for the 3 weeks prior to this dinner. But no worries – everything on the menu was good here, so I’d just get something else — wait a minute — reduced portions? Higher prices? What the what?? We shrugged it off as the waiter gently asked us to order off of the “special” menu.
I’m a people watcher by nature, so as our dinner unfolded I noticed some of the people at other tables curiously casting discreet sideways glances at other couples and wearing their best “We’re more in love than you are!” faces. Ick. Tiny boxes being opened, flashes of sparkles, and long, drawn out kisses ensued. Thanks to the brainwashing skills of advertising, before I knew it, my mind involuntary played the “Every Kiss Begins With Kay!” jingle on an endless loop, and there was nothing I could do to stop the madness. While other women were smiling and cooing, I was holding my hands over my ears, shutting my eyes tight and yelling, “Make it stop!!” This, of course, made my husband look awesome.
Okay, I’ll just say it – I’m all for doing nice things for others. Gifts can be great. But out at this dinner I couldn’t help but feel like more things about this night were “pre-fixed” than just the menu. I’m all for celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. I love when Greg brings home an unexpected farmer’s market bouquet of flowers on a random day. But that night, the relationship had run its course: we officially broke it off with Valentine’s Day.
From that point on, we made a Valentine’s Day Vow: no flowers, no restaurants, no gifts. There’s no pressure to spend a jacked-up amount of money in a fancy restaurant or get taken to the cleaners by the local florist. Instead, every year we make dinner together, at home, in our sweats.We get each other one funny card and one special card. Nothing sparkles, other than the silverware we use to eat the food (and I am using the word “sparkles” liberally here).
This morning, my valentine made me a nice bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and spelled out I L U with raspberries on top. It was the best V-Day “surprise” I could have received. And I can’t wait to go home, throw on some sweats, and suggest that we order Chinese take-out.