Over the years, I've watched parades of happy couples file through the doors, and witnessed many a would-be Romeo propose to his future wife. At times, said proposal has involved the server holding onto the actual engagement ring—never the best idea!—and then presenting it during dinner on a tray with a single red rose.
I've observed countless other spectacles on or around February 14. Take, for example, the elderly rich man I waited on last year at a restaurant in New York City. His Valentine's dates were two young blonde girls with tiny waists and tall heels. They wore white fur coats and shyly gestured at the menu, speaking every so often in pronounced Russian accents. Throughout each course, the women picked at their food, only eating half of what they ordered. Meanwhile, their host continued to dote over them, granting their every request, and concluding the evening by whipping out his black American Express card. Angry Single Blogger: Why Do Fat, Rich Men Have All The Fun?
Yet, for all the heart-shaped clichés and cringe-worthy moments, there is always one couple or another that comes into the restaurant and sheds a redemptive light on the holiday. They're the ones who have been married for 50 years and still hold hands underneath the table. They're the ones who will get up and start slow dancing when the live jazz musicians play a rendition of their favorite song. They stand together—two, carefree renegades who care little about the fact that no one else is dancing aside. Frankly, no one else would have even thought of it because this is not a restaurant where dancing usually occurs. Yet, there they are; a sweet, veteran couple creating their own dance floor.
They smile and they hold each other and as I watch them, I get the definite sense that they are reliving something in their minds. Perhaps it's a memory that the song invokes of a time when they first met... 12 Steps to Everlasting Love
I don't know what they're thinking, but I do know this: I want it to be a special evening for them, and not just because I'm getting paid for it. The extreme irony of being a server is that no matter what my relationship status is on Valentine's Day, my primary job description is to make everyone else's night awesomely romantic. I make sure their water glasses are full and their faces are smiling and their steaks are cooked to utter perfection.
Sometimes I am genuine in my endeavors, and other times I do it simply for the paycheck, but the one thing my job has taught me, year after year, is that I'd rather be doing this than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself because I don't have a Valentine. This is infinitely better. Why I Feel Sorry For Eva Mendes
It's even better than drinking wine with my girlfriends. I can do that any night of the week. As Valentine's Day rolls around each year, I've started to view it as an opportunity to stop being selfish and to focus my time and energy outward. Rather than responding with any of the four general responses to this holiday (i.e. enthusiasm, jealousy, rebellion, or avoidance) I like to think of a fifth possible response: