Valentine’s Day? (Published 2010/January)

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Oh boy! Valentine’s Day!

It’s time for one more “Hallmark Holiday” where I feel guilt-tripped into doing something on an arbitrarily assigned day to prove that I feel something (and feel bad if I don’t).

Surely there must be cultures where “significant others” feel loved without receiving a greeting card on some assigned day? Massive amounts of advertising and store displays try to manipulate us into spending money to prove our affections by buying a VD card, buying VD candy and/or buying that special someone a VD dinner. (Yes, using VD as an abbreviation for Valentine’s Day reflects my feeling that all this love and romance hoopla might be just another undocumented venereal disease <Grin!>)    I’m not a total Valentine’s curmudgeon though!   I confess that one VD years ago, I was motivated to make a vegan pizza totally from scratch with a home made crust and tomato sauce and shreds of soy cheese outlining the shape of a red heart for a special guy. Of course, if you’re a true dyed in the wool romantic, you know that even sharing a bucket of fried chicken with “THE ONE” can be romantic and that “where” or “what” isn’t quite as important as “who” you’re with! (Remember those two dogs in “Lady and the Tramp”? A single strand of spaghetti in a back alley can allegedly be darn romantic!)  

There are a lot of criteria for picking out the perfect restaurant for a VD dinner.

For gay and lesbian couples, a prime consideration is whether you’ll be tempted to touch hands across the table or indulge in a before or after dinner kiss. The number of restaurants in Baltimore where we can hold hands without invoking the evil eye or offending “Joe the Plumber” or “Church Lady” types is limited. The safest choices would be restaurants like “City Café” or “Mt. Vernon Stables” which usually have the highest percentage of Gay and Lesbian customers. But then maybe you ought to just forget about dining out and instead consider a candlelit dinner with some favorite take out in a big bed on satin sheets? Or then again, be boldly out and sign up for the BMA’s VD Champagne tour of the museum’s romantic pictures or aVD couples yoga classes?

Other criteria to think about include: Will it be a special occasion splurge place or somewhere nice but less pricey? Something casual or more dressed up? Are their options on the menu that both of you would enjoy? (e.g., taking a vegetarian beau to an upscale steak house can ruin the mood!)   Lighting can be important – candlelight is traditional for romantics but at least avoid places as bright as an office or almost as dark as a back room (seeing what you’re putting in your mouth can be important!) Seating should offer some degree of privacy and a comfortable amount of space between tables. Bunched-in banquette seating where two other couples are sitting 10” away on either side of you is problematic. The right places should encourage easy one-on-one conversation (You don’t want the response to your best sweet nothings to be “What was that? You also don’t want to be interrupted constantly as you get bumped by passing servers or other diners.  Some casual restaurants that I like and recommend for a VD dinner include Feast@4East, Gertrude’s, Hull Street Blues or Helen’s Garden (See if you can reserve one of those curtained nooks on the second floor!) If you like to splurge and don’t mind being surrounded by straight couples, consider Charleston, Oceanaire, or Roy’s. If traditional upscale places trigger romantic thoughts, consider an “Inn” place (e.g., Milton Inn, Candlelight Inn, Williamsburg Inn, or Elkridge Furnace Inn).  

Still, doesn’t the whole Valentine’s thing assume that we (and particularly men…) are emotionally constipated and that we may not have given our heart’s desire a clue in the past year about how much they mean to us? (and that somehow we’ll make up for all that lack of emotional articulation on this one day?)    Maybe if we routinely let each other know how much we value each other, enjoy being with each other, that hearing their voice makes our day and their smooch gives us shivers, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about that candy, the card or the erstwhile romantic VD dinner.

Regardless, happy VD! <Wink!>

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