The Valentine’s Day Rule

A few years ago, when Ms. J and I had just started going out together, I had a meeting with a client I was working with at my former Ad Agency job that was scheduled for February 14. It was a dinner meeting. On Valentine’s Day. And of course, the client was a woman who was about the same age as I was. It’s OK, said Ms. J, not a problem, if you have to work, then you have to work, it’s a stupid holiday anyway that people put too much pressure on themselves to make into a special night, she said.

The client worked for a company in London, so she had scheduled the meeting months in advance since she had to arrange to fly from London to New Hampshire for the meeting. Once she had arrived, I drove over to the little Inn where she was staying. Apparently, this Inn is a popular place for a romantic getaway, as it seemed to be filled with couples on dates. I asked for her at the front desk and the clerk asked if we might want to have dinner at the Inn since they were having a special Valentine’s Day dinner. My client soon arrived in the Lobby area and it was then that she remembered that it was Valentine’s Day and apologized for scheduling the meeting on that day. When she had made the plans months ago, she had forgotten that it was Valentine’s Day. Oh no, don’t worry about it, I assured her. It won’t be a problem.

We drove a few miles to the restaurant where I had made reservations. It was a somewhat formal restaurant, and of course it was packed with couples who had planned special Valentine’s Day dates. As we reviewed the menu, we discussed plans for the coming year. What approach will the Marketing take this year, what the goals were, what the budget looked like, that sort of thing. The sommelier approached the table and asked us if we might like a recommendation of an appropriate wine for this romantic dinner ? The waiter asked if we might like to order the creme brulee or the popovers early so that we could have them ready at the end of our romantic dinner ? While we ate dinner, someone from another table asked us where we had met. The bartender came by to ask if there was a special drink we might want to have a toast with ? The owner of the restaurant came by to let us know that he appreciated our business and hoped that our big night was everything we had hoped it would be. While we reviewed the Advertising plan over dinner, a violinist came by to serenade us with some kind of romantic song while we both cringed and hoped would stop as soon as possible.

At least we both thought that it was amusing that we were surrounded by couples on well planned Valentine’s Day dinners, while we were there reviewing business plans for the coming year. Though I did want that violin player to not come back to the table again, after having come by for the third time in his rounds of the room.

Since this was New Hampshire in mid February, the ground was covered by about a foot of snow and ice. On the way out of the restaurant, as we walked down the sidewalk back to the car, I slipped on some ice on the sidewalk and went flying across the sidewalk. I landed flat on my back, in a pile of slush and ice. I was unhurt, but I did find out later that the business suit I was wearing was pretty much ruined by that fall into the dirty slushy snow. As I lay there on the pavement, an older couple came by and offered assistance. I rose to my feet with some help. Once I was back on my feet, the older couple said that the story of how I crashed to the ground on Valentine’s Day would we be a funny story to tell our kids years from now.

After that night, I readily agreed to a new rule for Valentine’s Day that Ms. J proposed. We don’t have to do anything on Valentine’s Day, but we can not go to dinner with anyone else.

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