First of all, you should have made a plan. Running out to Walgreen’s at 10:15 am on February 14 to grab a card and a desktop fountain is not a plan. A plan is something that you make way in advance and you keep secret so that when it starts to work, you seem like George Clooney or Carey Grant, with everything just sort of rolling your way. You order the flowers delivered, you make the reservations at the restaurant where you have to have reservations six months in advance, when it is time to go, the limo just sort of rolls up and the chauffer opens the doors – you get the picture. You have a plan.
Most of us don’t have plans, however, but we still want to come off as smooth. Maybe not George Clooney smooth, but maybe Matt Damon smooth, at least. Here are a few pointers:
1. Leverage what time you do have. If you remember Valentine’s Day at 5:23 pm on February 13, you are in great shape. No, you won’t get the reservations at the “good” restaurant, but you can still get a table for two at Cattlemen’s. If you’re one of those rare men who actually know how to cook, the grocery store is open late.
2. If you have money in the bank or a wide open credit card, consider a trip. After the salad has come and you are waiting for your 20 oz. Porterhouse to show up, look deeply in her eyes, take both of her hands in yours and say, “For Valentine’s Day this year I want to give you a trip to ____.” Make sure it is a romantic destination – the Football Hall of Fame does not count, even if she is a football fan. See, a trip is advantageous to you in two separate ways: First of all, you get to give the best Valentine’s Day gift ever without ever going to the mall, and second, you are giving her the gift of spending a whole bunch of time with her. The downside is that you may be in for a week or two of abject misery. You need to be careful with this one.
3. Related to Item #2, if you are going to play the Trip Gambit, consider a cruise. Cruises booked at the last minute are dirt cheap, and they are still romantic. Check the discount boards. Bear in mind, she will probably expect you to pop the question if you take her on a cruise, so carefully evaluate your status before you do this. A romantic weekend in Vegas may be more appropriate. Calling her boss to arrange for her to have time off is bonus and makes it look like you planned in advance-of course, you will have to bribe said boss to not tell her you called him on Valentine’s Day.
4. If you have very little money and your credit cards are at their limits, consider cooking dinner for her. Hit the grocery store and get some fresh tortellini and a tub of the good sauce and a block of the good Parmesan (as opposed to the “Parmesan” that comes pre-grated in the green cans), and suddenly you are a gourmet. Be sure to stock up on some good wine too – if you are doing a cream sauce for your tortellini, go with a white wine, if a tomato sauce, stick with red.
5. Since you are a friggin’ gourmet now, pack a first class picnic lunch! This is great because all you need is a good picnic basket and the deli will do the rest for you! Again, remember the wine: Nothing says “lovin'” like a bottle of Chianti!
6. Recreate your first date! If you went to the movies and to Dolly’s for late-night breakfast, do that. Better yet, if you went dancing, do that! If you met at the demolition derby, you can take her dancing instead and say that you wish you’d done that. (Dames love dancing. We don’t, they do. Learn a couple of moves and make the best of it. The sooner you do that, the less painful it will be.)
7. Make a hand-made card. Ok, now we are stretching, but you were the one who didn’t plan, right? If you make the card out of construction paper and paper doilies she will think that you are whimsical and childlike. Or, maybe, a moron who can’t figure out how to make reservations, one of the two. . . .
8. You thought that was stretching? Try this: Make “gift certificates” for hugs and dates and home-cooked dinners of pasta with canned sauce. If I were you, I would go with the trip, but it is really your call.
I hope that this short list is of assistance to you in salvaging an otherwise ruined Valentine’s Day. Good luck and next year, make the reservations!