A date with Turtles


February 14, 2018

I love Valentine’s Day.

I always have.

I can remember as a wee tyke, Valentine’s Day was exciting because of how many little Valentine’s cards and candies I would get.

Valentine’s Day was great for another reason. Every since I can remember, my stepfather, Stuart, would buy my mother a box of Russell Stover Turtles (chocolate covered caramel and pecan yumminess) that she would share with my sister and me.

My father also got chocolates for my stepmother on Valentine’s Day. He would get a huge box of Whitman’s assorted chocolates. I always got all the coconut chocolates since nobody in my family was wild about coconut except me.

To this day, if I eat a Turtle, I think of Valentine’s Day. The same thing happens when I eat a toasted coconut chocolate cup from Whitman’s.

When I started dating in high school, I had some pretty strong crushes—if you had asked me then, I would have said it was love. Valentine’s Day was a chance for me to let these puppy love girlfriends know how much I cared by buying a card or some sort of gift.

I got rewarded for my attention, so Valentine’s Day just kept getting better and better as I went through high school.

Then came college when I started dating “Smitty”. She was a couple years older and was co-captain of the Maryland pom-pom squad. For those who are not in the know, in Maryland pom-pom squads are crazy popular. She was a bit of a celebrity on campus when we met, so I did my best to be a worthy boyfriend in the eyes of her friends, peers and family.

Valentine’s Day was always an excellent opportunity for me to show how imaginative I could be to celebrate the day of love. The first year we were together, I remember setting up an elaborate dinner date that I know surprised her.

Smitty and I were together about seven years and each Valentine’s Day, I did my best to come up with some cool way to celebrate.

Bed and breakfast places were often on the agenda, but I think when I made her dinner one year, it was our best Valentine’s Day celebration.

When we parted ways, I was in my mid-twenties.

I wasn’t single for very long. I met my future wife, Tina, not quite a year later.

Valentine’s Day was a bit more routine with Tina than with Smitty. Tina and I went to our favorite restaurant and bar every year. We’d exchange gifts at dinner and declare our feelings for each other.

How can you not love a day like this?

It can safely be said from 19 to 33, with the exception of the one year between Smitty and Tina, I was in a strong relationship, so I believe I have a decent understanding of celebrating Valentine’s Day as a couple.

I think it is awesome there is one day set aside to reflect on love.

It is a very different world, when you are a partner to someone versus being solo.

I don’t ever remember being unhappy when Valentine’s Day would come and I was not dating anyone to celebrate with. I would just go find some Turtles or Whitman’s sampler box and chow on them. So Valentine’s Day is a treat for me no matter what my dating status.

I admit in Asia, Valentine’s Day took on a different flavor. Western restaurants would always have a set menu for ridiculous prices. I know—I owned one of those restaurants and we were booked out weeks in advance. Valentine’s Day overseas was, more or less, just another commercial day for me, but no complaints. I liked seeing the happy couples celebrate.

Plus, I still celebrated Valentine’s Day in my own way with my chocolate fix.

A few times I had to settle for eating an Almond Joy, Mounds or Bounty (an excellent coconut chocolate bar sometimes found in the States, but for some reason, easier to find overseas).

There is something I have been thinking about for a couple of years concerning Valentine’s Day.

The single folk on Valentine’s Day should have a place to go meet other unattached folk. Not meat market style, but a place singles celebrate Valentine’s Day. I have different visions how this could happen—the ex-restaurant owner inside of me is alive and well on this concept— but the focus would be to enjoy being around others who, for whatever reason, are single on that day.

To be truthful, I am not sure Valentine’s Day for singles would catch on.

After all, Valentine’s Day has been marketed for couples for close to 200 years and there are plenty of other days for unattached folk to go out and meet others who are not dating anyone exclusively.

I go back and forth on this.

I guess it is because I love Valentine’s Day and think it would be great to celebrate with others who are like me that I think about a place that has a Valentine’s Day for singles.

So, as I throw the idea out there, knowing full well most people are going to nix the concept, I will be going to the grocery store this week to buy my box of Turtles.

But I will try to be careful and not overdo it.

I do have to watch my weight after all ... next year I could have a date.


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