As is so often the case, Josh and I technically began our “official relationship” on Valentine’s Day (1998) – he stalked me for a few months prior and we had gone on a couple of friendly dates, but on the day of love is when our relationship became official (perhaps what college students would consider facebook official in today’s lingo).
Well, one year after we had officially been dating, Josh decided that he should pull out all the stops and show me what an amazingly romantic guy he is. So, he asked me to go to Dallas with him for the weekend to spend some time with his family, and of course go out for a lovely 1-year anniversary/Valentine’s date. I was very much in love at the time, and although I am a far cry from a hopeless romantic I was quite excited about our weekend in Dallas.
I’m not sure what all I fantasized about but I’m sure it had something to do with horse drawn carriages, mounds of chocolate that I would consume, and lavish gifts handed over to me. Regardless of what I was hoping for, I should say that I was in fact HOPING and very much looking forward to what this mystery date would hold!
Josh told me to be ready to leave his parent’s house at 4:30pm.
“That early!?” I exclaimed. “
“Why, yes” he replied with a devilish gleam in his eye, “we have quite the night before us!”
This is going to be fantastic I remember thinking to myself! Now, if you do not know my husband you should know a few things:
1. He is the hopeless romantic in our relationship. As proof: He has watched Beauty and Beast at least 5 times (need I say more).
2. He prides himself on creating romantic gestures (for a reasonable price mind you J). As proof: he once set up a flower business in college by taking orders and buying roses in bulk at Sam’s…he then sold these to helpless young men (not sure if it was in the name of love or some extra moolah…but either way – he loves planning events that show me I am loved.)
3. He is SMART – as in almost genius level…but details are not always his forte.
So, back to the story
I got dolled up in my Valentine’s best and was ready to walk out the door at 4:30pm sharp! We climbed into the car and Josh refused to tell me where we were headed. There was an atmosphere of mystery – where would we go?
As we turned a corner and Josh slowed the car, he made this statement. “The plans for tonight are actually not solidified, but I have back-up plans in case my first choice does not work.”
With that, I realized we were at the Fair Park Music Hall and there were no other cars in the parking lot…hmm, I thought – perhaps a private concert? No, this isn’t that big of a date, and I was certain he wouldn’t be proposing tonight (we had already discussed this option and I had made it clear I wasn’t interested for at least another year – I was much too young…and much too bossy).
As I waited in the car, Josh ran up to the ticket window and got in line behind 4-5 people (okay, maybe there were one or two other cars around). He made it up to the window but turned around with a dejected look on his face. He got in the car and explained that he was trying to get tickets to a great musical (I love musicals), but when he had tried to purchase them earlier all that was left were stand-by tickets and the last tickets were purchased be the lady in front of him.
He looked so sad…but in a flash, he turned on that Josh Allen grin and said, “But I have a plan B!” We sped off in his trust 1988 Honda Accord and headed across the Metroplex to the mystery location of “Plan B!”
At around 5:30pm we pulled into another almost empty parking lot at the Morton Myerson Symphony and he explained that he had already determined that if the musical was sold out that we would go to the Symphony instead! The symphony should be romantic – right?
I went up to the ticket booth with him at this point and we stood in line for 30 minutes waiting for these tickets to go on sale. It was fun chatting in line (although it was very windy and I kept thinking that my Valentine’s best hair was starting to look less and less stellar). We finally were able to talk to the lady at the window and she curtly stated that the tickets were $200 each.
Josh gulped, pulled out his wallet with a bit of hesitancy, and I squeezed his arm trying to get him to look at me. I whispered, “That’s too much, I think.”
“No, no…this is a special night,” he said.
We stood there silent for a moment. His hand was frozen above his debit card. My brain was shouting – YOUR BOYFRIEND IS POOR. WELL, NOT POOR, BUT NOT RICH…HE SELLS HOTDOGS FOR A LIVING…NOT SURE, BUT THAT PROBALY DOEN’ST BRING IN A LOT OF CASH…IF HE DOES HAVE MONEY YOU WANT HIM TO SAVE IT TO BUY YOU A GREAT RING…AND HE SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE THE SYMPHONY. I wasn’t quite sure what to do…so I whispered again, “You know we don’t have to go to any show; I think a nice dinner would be special enough. I’ll be happy either way.”
He let out a little sigh and looked at me. “Are you sure? I just really wanted to do something special.”
“I’m absolutely sure!” I turned on my biggest reassuring smile, and as we started back towards the car I breathed my own sigh of relief that I would not have to sit through the symphony.
Once again, Josh turned on the charm and said, “I guess it’s a good thing that I have a Plan C!” I must admit that I was impressed; after all, details are not always his strong suit. This time he told me that Plan C was a dinner reservation that he made at this amazing little romantic Italian place across from the SMU campus.
He had found it online.
It took us another 30 minutes to cross the metroplex, so at 6:30pm we walked into “Plan C.”
All I can say about “Plan C” is that a shiver went through my body as we walked into the “little romantic” place. Little it was…and if romantic is about lighting, then there was definitely ambiance…but the dim lighting wasn’t giving me a feeling of romance but rather a feeling that they were trying to disguise the filth of the floors and the cracks in the walls. All I could think about were roaches in the kitchen and how many times had detectives been called to this location for crime follow-up?
I tried hard to put on a cheery smile, but Josh could easily see that “Plan C” was doing little to impress me. “Hmmm…the pictures online didn’t look like this,” he whispered.
“Well, it is only 6:30pm,” I said, “Maybe we could find another restaurant?” Please, please I prayed in my mind…I don’t want to eat roach legs.
“Definitely!” He said, the charm and confidence back! “We are in Uptown now and there are so many great places around here – we’ll find something amazing in no time!”
For any of you who have ever tried to find a great restaurant on Valentine’s Night know…those words were far from the truth. As the trusty Honda took us from one restaurant to the next I slowly saw my future husband’s shoulders start to sag.
One place said the wait would be 3 hours. Another said only 2! Others basically told Josh to get a life, and after his 8th rejection he got back in the car and put his head on the steering wheel.
He sighed loudly and I thought I saw a tear of frustration in his eyes. “I just wanted tonight to be perfect, but I don’t know what to do.” He sat there for another minute, and then seemed to shake himself out of the fog. He turned on his smile yet once again and said, “Let’s try Plan D!”
He began to drive to a restaurant where he had made reservations in the chance we went to either the musical or symphony. He explained his entire plan to me at this point and said, “I made two dinner reservations – one in case the musical and symphony didn’t pan out and another for later in case we did go to the musical! The reservation isn’t until 9:30 but maybe we’ll get a seat earlier since I did make a reservation.” With that, we were off again!
“Plan D” restaurant was nice and the food smelled so very good, but since it was Valentine’s Day we were informed that we would have to wait like everyone else who walked in. Maybe an hour…maybe more. So, we sat in the bar area playing our favorite game of guessing people’s relationships (is it their first date…are they in a fight…is he going to propose tonight). We waited and we waited and I smelled delicious food! It was now around 8pm & all I could think about was the fact that more than romance, I just wanted some food!
Josh asked the hostess multiple times how we were doing on the list and it became clear that the prospects were not promising. It was my time to tear up, so looking to Josh I told him. “I know you were trying to impress me and make this a romantic night and although I appreciate it…I’m so hungry that I really don’t care if we go to a fancy restaurant or McDonalds. Can we just please go find something to eat?”
At this, we went back to the car – both of us frustrated and hungry. Josh started to drive, and literally stopped at almost every restaurant along the road. He refused to stoop to McDonald’s level but was determined to find something.
Please God, I remember praying…Please let us find something – ANYTHING!
An HOUR into more driving and searching we pulled the Honda into a gas station. While Josh filled up the tank we had quite the argument…I wanted to give up – “Let’s just go home! Your mom has left over lasagna” (man did that sound good now that it was 9pm).
But Josh refused to give up. He was not going to fail this mission! I don’t remember what words were exchanged but I know most of it had to do with disappointment and wrong expectations. After “the moment” at the gas station, we agreed to try 3 more places and then we would give up.
The next restaurant we saw was The Macaroni Grill, and at 9:30pm they said they could seat us right away! HALLELUJAH! We feasted – Italian Nachos, Piles of Pasta, loaves and loaves of bread (it was 9:30 – I was starving!)…and finished it off with Tiramisu. By the time we took our last bite of tiramisu we were laughing at the craziness that had been our night, and we made a pact to never again let our expectations and desires to impress the other overcome the simplicity of loving one another.
Looking back, it is a night I would not change. I learned so much about my future husband that night. I learned that he loves grand gestures and he loves to make me happy. I also learned that it is important to let him lead the way when he has made great plans, and I learned that it hurts his heart when he feels he has disappointed me.
And I learned about myself that night too. I learned that one of the greatest stumbling blocks in my life is setting up false expectations. This may be expectations like that night of an event or another person, but often it’s the expectations that I put on myself.
Since that fateful Valentine’s night we have tried to show our love through more simple plans. One year we ordered pizza and had a candlelight dinner over some pepperoni…this year, I was working on a project and so my amazing husband helped me cut and sort papers for over 2 hours. After 10 years of marriage, that self-less act of love reminded me of the boy 12 years ago who driving his Honda just wanted to make me happy…and that love, whether it’s shown through paper cuts or extravagant plans is something I will try to never take for granted.