Friday, February 07, 2014


In another week it will be Valentine's day. Which may mean something to you. You and the love of your life might go out to a good restaurant, after the gifting of flowers, chocolates, and baubles, to enjoy a quiet romantic dinner with champagne.

My advice, in a word: don't.

Good restaurants are busier than usual, many have overbooked, the service staff will probably have been augmented by one totally inexperienced eccentric who has never waited tables before, and the staff will be frazzled by five o'clock, with still six hours of frenetic chaos ahead of them.

There will be scant quiet and little romance there.

If you have to go to dinner, find a regular restaurant and enjoy some cheap spaghetti and chianti. Or kung pao shrimp and sweet and sour pork.

At the Indian restaurant where I worked for several years, Valentine's Day was our best and worst night. Everyone wanted the private booths with cushions, most of them ended up in the banquet room. Choice of three set dinners, all with a free glass of cheap champagne and a rose.
I am not proud of our standards of service on that day. We could've done better. Without the Hindi expletives or inexplicable delays.
The spilled sauces, dropped cutlery.
Broken glasses.

Or, one year, the tablecloth that caught fire.

Soot from burnt synthetics: VERY romantic!

Valentine's is not all bad; one of my esteemed colleagues from the company where I worked in the Financial District proposed to his sweetie at a fancy restaurant on that day several years ago, and they are still married. Their young son keenly desires that I quit smoking.

I myself am of two minds about the celebration. On the one hand, a long walk on Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and down around the outskirts of Chinatown and Northbeach with someone else sounds quite lovely, after a light supper at a quiet and distinctly UNromantic eatery.
Just two normal people, flying under the radar. Whatever is in their minds is not crassly advertised; no excessive behaviours, no vulgar display.

On the distinctly other hand, two matched delinquents of equal depravity huddling around a burning garbage can with a thermos of hot coffee, spiked with just enough rum for cheerfulness, not enough for tipsy.
Perhaps after fish tacos in a Mission District canteen.
Let us burn this puppy down, you and I.
We're young, we're wild.
Do it.

Actually, I am middle-aged. I just look better in the dark.

Being single, I have no plans for the event. But I know that across the city there will be frazzled nerves and filled restaurants, and tense people on the bus shall lug bouquettes and glare at the other passengers.
The next day, some might regret what they said.
Others will be nursing headaches.

I'm surprised no one riots.

Perhaps it's best to simply stay at home on the couch, watching rented horror movies till the wee hours with hot cocoa and a throw rug.
And the stuffed animals, for reassurance.

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1 comment:

optimistically amphibious said...

I dunno: a merrily burning tablecloth might add just that touch of festivity to the occasion, provided of course that it wasn't your table. And the sprinkler system doesn't work.

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