I’m a romantic. I’m a sucker for all those rom-com clichés that signify true love – a petrol station bunch of flowers, a battered box of chocs, him turning the volume up when our song comes on the radio. Basically, any gesture, however feeble, that makes me feel a bit loved is fine by me, so I should be St Valentine’s absolute biggest fan.
Unfortunately, the thing that is supposed to be best about Valentine’s Day completely ruins it for me; namely, the Romantic Valentine’s Dinner for Two.
Last year it went something like this. Weeks in advance of the RVDT I phoned every babysitter I knew. They were all already booked up. Eventually, I managed to pin down the surly 15 year old son of a neighbour, having promised him an hourly rate that Richard Branson would have been happy with. So then it was time to find a restaurant.
We hardly ever go out for dinner, so had a long list of local restaurants we wanted to try. Of course, we’d left it too late to book anywhere nice. After much ringing around we finally managed to secure a table at 9pm(!) at the slightly dodgy local Italian, with a three-star hygiene rating.
We knew we’d be home by 10.30pm (it was a school night after all) so we felt obliged to book the babysitter from 7.30pm to make it worth his while, which gave us time to go to the pub and polish off a bottle of wine on empty stomachs. By the time we arrived at the restaurant for the much anticipated RVDT my husband and I were an uncomfortable mixture of hungry, drunk and tired. The restaurant had found some extra tables from somewhere and we sat elbow to elbow with the couples on either side of us. On our right was a pair who had evidently had a furious row en route and were sitting in frosty silence. Which was sort of ok – made me feel a bit better about the argument we had brewing for later on. What was not ok was the couple to our left who was giving a master class on being Madly In Love. The hand holding, eye gazing, nauseating whispering and a large bunch of flowers (not petrol station) under her chair were putting me off my pasta, but were simultaneously mesmerising. Whilst straining to hear their sweet nothings, it is possible that I didn’t pay quite as much attention to my husband as I might have done. So much so that he managed to take a call from work and fully update himself on the football scores without me batting an eyelid.
When we got home and handed over the wodge of cash to the babysitter I couldn’t help asking myself if it was really worth it.
This year, we have decided to take a different approach. My husband and I will be staying in on Valentine’s Day. Instead of the RVDT we will be taking advantage of our fabulous Sitster group to go out together as a couple more often in February. And March. And April, for that matter. Last week we popped out to try one of our new local restaurants and were home again by 9.30pm, in time for a much more romantic early night….
So here’s to romance but, I’m sorry, it’s so long St Valentine.
Sitster is a mobile app to help friends organise a babysitting circle. Sitster makes it quick and easy to arrange babysitting amongst a group of your trusted friends, using a points system so it’s completely free and fair.