Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Valentine’s Day

By awoodall
Friday, February 15th, 2008 at 12:11 am in Uncategorized.

390589695_593cfeb07a.jpgI can’t help it. I love Valentine’s Day. The kitschy hearts and arrows and cupids. The chocolates and flowers and all that. I was a hard-bitten cynic until about 3rd grade, when a boy by the name of Kelly gave me my first mass-produced, silly card spilling his romantic guts. What a pushover!
But, since my boyfriend is far way in Manhattan this first year, I went out in search of some stories that might cheer me at Cafe Van Kleef, one of the few bars boasting of a special Valentine’s Day cocktail. The “Je t’aime” didn’t quite make the mark for me. Peter Van Kleef said the vodka, ginger ale, grenadine mixture was so named because I love you doesn’t quite sound the same in Dutch. 
He said he got a poem from an erstwhile sweetheart that went something like “You have to like me. You ought’a kiss me.”
So what had I missed out on this Feb. 14? I’m rusty after 15 years of a less than romantic relationship (we chalked it up to a cynical dislike of commercialized holidays but in hindsight I think it was an excuse on his part and a compromise on mine).
Kay Lynn Shreve had the right idea, though. She’s single at the moment but that didn’t stop her from rallying to the occasion by handing out chocolate candies to friends and strangers. A woman who loves Valentine’s Day, Schreve said she didn’t want being single to make her “lie down alone at home.”
Her friend, Alisha Blau and boyfriend went to Alameda’s absinthe tasting bar St. George to toast the romantic holiday that has gotten a bad reputation among other less enthusiastic revelers. Valentine’s Day is “overrated,” said Sarah, who said she refused to shop on Feb. 14 out of principle because the holiday was hyper-commercialized. But she brought her friend Joel (as in the Bible) risotto because he had to work all night while others smooched. Well, their relationship was new and he got her chocolates. But I liked his idea of dressing up in a trenchcoat and serenading her with a boombox. “You looked like you were going to fall in love with him,” Sarah joked, referring to my gaze at his description before I realized it was all a cruel farce. “So was I. But now it’s too late,” she added.
Why can’t these guys put these fantasies into action?
Ray Peretti had the right idea: He handed out chocolates to all the ladies, which got Brigitte Censullo’s attention because it was the first Valentine’s Day gift she had ever received. Her ex-husband’s birthday was Feb. 14, so he got all the attention, said Censullo, who was sipping a grayhound cocktail.
Ahna Coker was wooed the right way by Daniel Awand, who gave her a list of five options — from laser tag to mini golf — for Valentine’s Day. Van Kleef’s was the fifth option and that is where they “somehow ended up” drinking grayhounds and Catholic Protestants. They were adorable.
Lucky girl, Violetta Angel (a name too good to be real?). Her beau Melvin Laird (another great name) escorted her and her blue low-backed blue polyester dress (he was dressed in a trim suit she bought for him) to Quinn’s Lighthouse for a rousing performance by the Pirates. The candy and roses (I was positive he was the candy and roses type) were missing, however. “I don’t care about that,” Angel said. “That was last week, right?” Laird added. He said the flowers were being let to bloom. Was that a secret code? They were both sipping Maker’s Mark and soda.
A friend of mine could teach everyone a lesson that I’ll pass on to you all for use next year. Here’s the recipe that I have modified with my own suggestions: One bunch of red, heart-shaped balloons, one frilly box of chocolates, one card and one bottle of champagne. Place at loved-one’s bedside early morning before he/she wakes. Add one serenade or at least a YouTube song in an e-mail. Top with Chinese take-out at home or at a deserted fountain.  For dessert, pop that champagne served with raspberry muffins.
One bride-to-be gave her fiance some “very progressive” playing cards. That’ll do. He seemed to like them, anyway.
I, on the other hand, was “stale turduckin,” a “linguistically fun phrase” handed down to me by Jeff Pringle — no relation to the meat or potato chip empires — to describe a time when one is not quite as festive as the holiday warrants. His erstwhile sweetheart had come down with bronchitis. “Turduckin, turduckin. That’s what it all comes down to,” Pringle replied when I described my Valentine’s Day disappointment. “It’s a first year kind of thing,” he added.  Yep.  So, I toasted the night and my Spanish Harlem boyfriend with a Manhattan.
(No that snap is not of me. It comes from AlmostPhony, who was about as enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day as I was.) 

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