When I said I wanted to do something memorable for our first Valentine’s day, I didn’t mean embarrassingly memorable.
It seems obvious now, but having never taken a girl out on Valentine’s day, I didn’t realize that we would need a reservation to almost any restaurant we went to.
Wanting to impress my new fiancé I decided upon a fancy Italian restaurant downtown that I had never been to before [Mistake #1]. I did take the time to stop by a few days in advance to look over their menu to see prices and what they had. If only I had thought to ask about reservations [Mistake #2].
When the over hyped and pivotal day arrived, I picked up my date in my baby blue 1985 Ford Ranger truck [Mistake #3]. She was looking and smelling quite magnificent and I was feeling quite smooth and confident myself. This whole valentine’s thing wasn’t as hard as some people had suggested.
As we headed downtown the traffic started to get thick and I started to wonder if there would be a wait to get into the restaurant. I quickly found that there were no parking spots anywhere near the restaurant [Mistake #4], but I kept my cool as we circled the block for the third time.
When we finally did park, I quickly learned that we were dressed to impress—not to walk two blocks in the cold icy February weather [Mistake #5].
Luckily, the fancy Italian restaurant was extra warm from all of the people crowded into the lobby waiting for a table. We approached the host podium to get our names on the list. When the host appeared I wanted to laugh, because he didn’t look old enough to even have a job, but he was dressed up exactly like the stereotypical smarmy restaurant host that you see in movies (think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off host, but younger).
“Do you have a reservation?”, he sneered.
“No, how long is the wait?”
He laughed at me obnoxiously. I wanted to punch him in the face.
“It’s two hours if you have a reservation.”
“I am very serious.”
Sharee grabbed my arm and whispered “You didn’t make a reservation on Valentine’s day?!?”
I looked around at the other people and noticed that I was the only person who thought the host was an idiot. Everyone else was staring at me like I was the idiot.
Embarrassed, we quickly exited and began the return walk—now in silence—back to the truck. My deodorant activated as the sweat began to run down my cold back.
Sharee now took charge. There were some good restaurants at the mall that we might be able to get into. We drove there and found them all completely booked for the night.
She then suggested that we try again another day, but I was not willing to accept defeat. I felt that I had to redeem myself for the mistakes I had made [Mistake #6].
That was when the truck broke down—or at least it wouldn’t start.
A sort of a crazed determination come over me. We were going to get into a restaurant and eat dinner even if the universe was against us.
We saw a bus approaching and ran over to the bus stop. We got on that bus and rode it to Sharee’s car on campus.
From there we started calling restaurants until we finally found something that we could get into—Denny’s. But not even the Denny’s in our town. We had to travel to another town to eat at Denny’s.
I was glad that we finally found some place to eat, but being admitted into Denny’s on Valentine’s just didn’t feel like much of a victory. In fact, it felt more like a defeat.
The clam chowder was the worst clam chowder I had ever had in my life—and I’ve never enjoyed it since.
To finish the night, my date had to drive me home. The whole thing was a humiliating experience for me. Luckily, I get to remember it every February 14. But in a way, it makes me want to be a better person for my wife. In the end, I still got the girl and 14 years later we still love each other.
We can laugh now about that night, but that was the last time that we have ever gone out on Valentine’s day. We now go out the week before or the week after, but never on the day.
What memories/experiences have you had around Valentine’s day? Please share in the comments section below.