Saturday, February 21, 2015


I’ll never forget my very first Valentine date. And part of the reason that I will never forget it was because it was the only one EVER. 

It was a long time ago. I started seeing this guy off and on in the fall of one particular year. He was nice and we had fun together. We got along great and had one specific thing in common: each of us had just left a bad relationship. Sometimes such a thing can bring people together since talking about the past can be great therapy. Sometimes he would come to my place and sometimes I would go to his, and we would stay up until the wee hours of the morning just talking.

Time went on and we grew fond of one another and when Christmastime came we exchanged gifts. I bought him a nice wrist watch and he bought me a gold necklace and pendant. It turned out to be an enjoyable and quiet Christmas and we kept seeing each other after the holidays.

Then Valentine’s Day came up. Now to me, Valentine’s Day was just like any other day. I got up that morning and did the usual things. I remember that it was a Sunday because I slept in and was still wearing pajamas when he called me that afternoon and asked me to come over later that evening. I agreed, and took a stroll up the road to see him just before dark; his place was a ten minute walk up the road from where I was staying.

When I walked in the porch he seemed nervous to see me and when I entered the kitchen I understood why. A white linen tablecloth was spread on top of his old table and two lit candles stood in candle holders, a bottle of wine was chilling in a bucket of ice, and the table was set for two, with food already on the plates and wine glasses ready to be filled. 

Well, I was flabbergasted. I was totally taken aback and was at a loss for words. I stood there not knowing what to say. No one had ever done that for me before. 

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.

I choked up and he came over and hugged me. 

That was the sweetest thing that anyone had ever done for me. It was the only Valentine’s Day that I can remember. It also came with a big heart-shaped box of chocolates and flowers. 

He pulled out a chair for me and I sat down. He sat opposite me and poured the wine. He had rice, steak, and potatoes on the plates. I started to cut my steak, but the knife wouldn’t go through.  The steak was like an old rubber tire—way overdone. He tried cutting his steak and then realized that it was overdone. He looked up and me, I looked back at him.

“How long did you cook this meat?” I said, laughing wholeheartedly. I poked the meat with a fork and held it up to him. 

He burst out laughing.  “I’m not sure. I was too busy scooping out potato trying to make those damn things that you said you liked.”  He pointed to the potato on my plate. “Try one.”

I scooped some of the filling: cheese, scallions, and bacon bits, and tasted it. “Oh, the filling is good, but why don’t you try one.” 

He poked one with his fork and the prongs bent.

Well, that was it. His face turned red as a beet, and for a moment I thought that he might get upset, but he started laughing, then I started laughing, and we laughed until the tears streamed down our eyes and our stomachs were sore. We laughed until all the nervous tension had dissipated. 

We drank a half bottle of wine and the food tasted better after that. The rice, which was very dry, was washed down with wine, the meat was okay with lots of steak sauce, and the potato filling was scooped out of every potato. He figured out later that the oven had stopped working during cooking so that’s why the potatoes weren’t done.

We talked and laughed over dinner and I told him the correct way of making potato skins, to cut lengthwise, and he said that he did not know his way around the kitchen and that he had never heard of potato skins before he met me. 

All in all in was a wonderful evening and I will never forget how special he made me feel. 

This is how potato skins are supposed to look.