It’s our tradition to have pasta on Valentine’s Day. No, it’s not because we think Italian food is particularly romantic (although it is delicious). Nor are we trying to imitate that scene in “Lady and the Tramp.” It’s a tradition we’ve adopted because of what happened our very first Valentine’s Day as a dating couple.
On February 14th, 2007, Tim and I were in Panama City. We were part of a team on a trip with the organization we worked for at the time. After a day of work, the consensus was that we would all cab over to T.G.I.Friday’s for some good ol’ American food. Since most of our teammates were single, we thought that going out for a nicer dinner all together would be a fun way to celebrate the day.
Tim and I had been a mere 3 months into our dating relationship. I remember wondering what we would do for Valentine’s Day and whether he had any romantic gestures planned. It was actually my first Valentine’s Day with a significant other. I was familiar with what I didn’t do on Valentine’s Days as a single person: candlelight dinners, giving and receiving gifts, etc. Now that I had a date, I felt unsure of what to expect. Should I be hoping for chocolates and flowers? It seemed too cliché. I was slightly relieved when I found out we were all going out for dinner that night. But part of me still wished for something a bit more romantic.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we knew we were in trouble. There were people crammed in the lobby and spilling out the doors, all waiting for a table. Who knew T.G.I.Friday’s was the “it” place to be on Valentine’s? We put our names on the list and waited. And waited. And waited.
By this time, my hungry grump was starting to surface. The prospect of not knowing when we’d be seated, having to wait further for food and eating in a dark, crowded and noisy place turned me off even more. Coming to this restaurant was supposed to be special. But I wanted out.
Tim, knowing that I didn’t fare well on an empty stomach, began to think of alternatives. He spoke with a couple of our friends who also looked tired of waiting and found out they also wanted to leave. We agreed to split a cab with them and return to where we were staying.
We had no idea what kind of food was available when we got back. As it turned out, the nearest place was a pasta joint next door. They only did take-out. We were so ravenous and tired by then that we didn’t care. We ordered two spaghettis and ate out of styrofoam containers right in the lobby of the hotel.
It certainly wasn’t the Valentine’s dinner we expected, but it was memorable. And every year since then, we’ve carried the tradition of pasta on Valentine’s Day.