Between a history of January break-ups and of dating boys who say they don't recognize the holiday, I've never celebrated Valentine's Day. Nope, not since the days it meant tearing into my red-construction-paper-heart-covered box and reading my store-bought valentines from classmates.
Most of my V-days have been spent on the other side of the apron, and it can be a particularly harsh day to be a server. You're not with the one you love, and you have to witness others cherishing their loves with out-of-budget meals and public displays of affection.
In my opinion, these are both horrible ways to spend the day. People who celebrate the day by spending over budget rarely tip well, and watching people smooch with spaghetti sauce on their chins is just nauseating.
Despite my Bah Heartbug attitude, others do regularly enjoy the day. Since Whirlygig -- CityBeat's weekly online column -- attempts to chronicle some of our city's more memorable out-on-the-town moments, we'll get on with it.
Four Envelopes, Please
As February dawns full of red hearts and racks of cards, I consider my potential Valentine recipients. Who will be my Valentine? Do I have to choose just one? Please, Mr. Postman, can I have four heart stamps this year?
Yes, four Valentine cards will do most nicely. I never could decide on my favorite flavor of ice cream at Graeter's either. Some days I go for the usual Mocha Chip, or I've been known to try the Pumpkin and the Coconut just because I can. Such it is with my dating life ... I have my favorites with a little variety tossed in for good measure.
So it is this Valentine's Day, with four special fellows who all deserve an envelope sealed with a kiss.
First, there's Rick. Hopple & Company has the perfect Valentine for him: fine grade paper with a sentimental message. Rick is celebrating his first post-divorce Valentine, and he was married a long time. Too long, if you get my drift. He's the walking wounded at this point, but I value his friendship greatly.
Rick treats me like the lady I aspire to be. My birthday dinner at the Palace in the Cincinnatian was the perfect example. He chose it because it was a favorite of mine. He stood when I went to the ladies room and helped me with my chair. He always opened the door. When he says, "You are the strongest person I know," it makes me want to be stronger. Rick, you deserve the best ... of everything.
My second card is humorous, maybe slightly suggestive. Bachelor No. 2 is the mysterious Valentine on my list. He's the "across the miles" one who, if absence really did make the heart grower fonder, I'd be in love with. As it is, I'm in lust.
Meeting him alone for the first time at the bar in the Omni Netherland, his wit and humor enticed me after the first few minutes. When he touched my chin and insisted I look at him for the toast, I knew I could be in trouble -- the kind that finds you immersed in his down comforter and fluffy pillows in the morning and believing him when he says, "You are beautiful, intelligent and charming." Put an airmail stamp on his Valentine, Mr
I'll spend alot of time on this third Valentine for my Billy Baldwin lookalike, Macy. Yes, he has that boyish look with piercing blue eyes that my gay friends swoon over and the college co-eds would like to try. Macy is charming, athletic and game. Game for ethnic food like the African restaurant in Columbus last week, tennis on a fall afternoon, Lowe's home improvement project shopping sprees and any other activity. You name it, Macy will try it.
He tried it after Jo An's for sushi, and it wound up being breakfast at Wildflour on our fifth date. His card will tell him how much I adore him, which is just how I felt when he was looking for me at the finish line of the Flying Pig Five-Mile Run. We don't always run the same race, but we're together all the same.
Finally, there is Dave Johnson's Valentine. Sometimes people drift in and out of the picture. Mostly, Dave and I just hung out a while back. He would call me: "Robinson. It's Johnson. Meet me." Sometimes it would be J & J's on the west side for the best BLT at lunch or maybe a quick drink at Rock Bottom. Lots of times he'd call me from the airport, as he was always on business.
The last time I saw Dave was the spur of the moment call to meet him at Morton's. We had less time than expected, but it was good to see him. We laughed about my ex and his live-in. We shared war stories of conference calls and sales meetings. Dave said, "You look the same." He seemed more fatigued to me.
His sister wrote me at Christmas to tell me he passed away in October from colon cancer. Johnson, you were too young, too much fun, and I miss you. His card, like so many, is sent on the wings of angels this Valentine's.
My Funny Valentine
A couple of years ago, I worked room service at a four-star hotel and dated a guy who was somewhat of a romantic novice. Valentine's Day drew near, but I kept my mouth shut to see if he'd remember.
At one point in the relationship, I had mentioned a desire to stay in a hotel. How nice it would be to be catered to, having food delivered to me instead of vice versa and soaking in a big, bubble-filled tub.
On Valentine's Day night, I was scheduled to work and heard nothing from my boyfriend. As I sat bemoaning my state, the phone rang.
"Do you have any plans tonight?" he asked. "Only with you," I perked.
"Don't take the bus home, I'll pick you up from work," he said. "What are we doing?" I asked.
"It's a surprise," he replied.
Every girl loves romantic surprises. The rest of the evening sailed along, and I told my female co-workers about my romantic night to come. We took turns guessing what he'd planned, although it turned out that none of our guesses were even close. When my shift was over, I waited outside for his car.
When he pulled up, he handed me a single red rose. A nice start.
"Are we going to dinner?" I asked. I hadn't really dressed for it if we were. "I'm not telling," he said.
We began to drive, past the turnoff to my house, past the turnoff to his. Where the hell were we going? When I demanded to know, he just told me again it was a secret.
Finally, we turned onto Central Parkway and meandered up the hill. I figured we were stopping for directions or something. But we pulled into the motel advertising $28 rates on a neon sign.
Na-uh, I thought. I didn't say anything as he came back to the car with a room key, but, when we walked to the motel room, I stopped him.
"We're staying here?" I asked incredulously. "Remember when you said you wanted to stay at a hotel?" he said.
"Yeah, but ..." "Well, here we are."
We went in, and my heart sank. This was not at all what I had in mind. I scanned the room, which was small with a mirror across one entire wall, a drawer that surely included the Gideon's Bible and a bottle of Mr. Bubble he'd placed on the dresser.
"I thought you might like a bath after work," he said.
He was right there. I needed to wash the disillusionment right off of me. Sitting in the tub, I tried to calm myself down as I noticed that not only were the bubbles quickly disappearing, so was the water. I refilled the tub; it kept draining out. Almost in tears, I lugged myself out.
When I sat on the bed, I heard the crackle of plastic. And when I went to use the restroom later on, a cockroach ambled by my foot.
At 4 a.m., I feigned sickness and made him take me home.
"But I already paid for the room," he said. "It's more than $28 for the whole night."
I was sorry to disappoint him, as he'd genuinely tried to make me happy, but there was no way I could even begin to pretend I was.
My Favorite Valentine
My friend Rodney introduced me to the second Jason in early January 2000, right after Jason 1.0 dumped me. Though the three of us were great friends, I suspected Rodney wanted more than friendship from Jason.
One evening I was kvetching about Jason 1.0 and how I regretted falling for a younger guy (and learned if they're not old enough to drink, they're not old enough to date). Jason, five years my senior, turned and asked, "So do you like older men?"
"Yes, actually, I do," I replied coyly, proud of responding correctly to flirtation for once. I began to wonder if this Jason had other things on his mind, though it certainly didn't bother me.
For Valentine's Day, the three of us went to The Dock. All night Jason flirted with me, intriguing me more. He kept standing behind me with his hands on my shoulders as we did our laps (back bar, front bar, back bar, front bar). It felt great.
Rodney eventually split off. Jason and I ended up in the back bar pressed closer and closer together, partially from the wall-to-wall crowd but mostly from pure flirtation. Eventually we flashed each other the "I think we both know what's going on here" look and put our arms around each other.
We locked lips and were inseparable, until ...
My back toward the aisle, I heard "You whore!" exclaimed from behind me. It was Rodney. Seems he did want more than friendship from Jason.
Rodney took a cab home that night; I went home with Jason. Rodney eventually got over it; after all, what could I do? Jason made his choice. And even though Jason and I are just friends today, the great memories like Valentine's 2000 make our history one of the things I treasure most.