My boyfriend Max and I met in college where we had been close friends. We started dating shortly after graduation and he moved from Massachusetts to Charlotte in January of 2011- just before our first Valentine’s Day.
We wanted to come up with a cute and easy V-Day tradition. It seems all of our relationship “holidays” hit around the same time, so we wanted to find a way to recognize it without going overboard financially.
We were just out of college and had barely started our new jobs. My mom happened to have a “Groupon” to a nice local restaurant and offered to us. We thought we’d hit the jackpot. We ordered an absurd amount of food, since we could, and figured we’d save some for leftovers throughout the week. We even ordered a nice bottle of wine, since it was the only thing we’d have to pay for. The waiter arrived and cheerfully took our Groupon with our check. As Max and I sat at the table, feeling like we had this “real world couple” thing all figured out, the waiter appeared again moments later to point out the fine print at the bottom of the page… “Not Valid on Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.” The look on Max’s face was priceless.
As the following February rolled around, we geared up to try again at a nice evening out together. There was another fancy place near my apartment that we liked to go to. We couldn't afford the entrees, but we’d go and get a glass of wine and a few appetizers, and have a great meal for a decent price.
We sat down, ordered a bottle of wine and opened our menus. Mine listed the prix fixe options but no prices. Max couldn't seem to find them either. We ordered anyway, figuring we could afford to splurge every now and then. After ordering, he turned his menu over to reveal “Prix Fixe Menu: $100/ea.” From there came irrational tears and questions like “Do you guys have scholarships?” Max, calmly looked up from his menu and said “Hey babe, I think we found our tradition…” This year we've already gotten suggestions from friends on how to stay in budget for the big night out. Things like “this nice Swedish place called IKEA Cafeteria” or “Have you ever heard of Cookout?”
Lauren Caldwell's story is a winner of our WFAEats Valentine's contest, where we asked for your best food-themed Valentine's story.