One woman recalls watching “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991 (romantic, right?). A single mother reminisces on a thoughtful dinner with her 12-year-old son. A second-time wedding proposal at Palisade. A drink spilled on a dress. A wedding in the deserts of India. And a few mentions of Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, which, yes, has something planned for this Valentine’s Day, too.
Memories like these might seem far, far away given the pandemic-fueled lack of romantic outings of late, but don’t fear. We asked Seattle Times readers to submit the tale of their most memorable Valentine’s Day date for this special edition of Seattle Dating Scene.
So, let’s “awwww” at the grand gestures, feel sympathy for the bad dates and take a trip down memory lane together.
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
“I love Valentine’s Day! It’s my very favorite ‘holiday’ … in that people acknowledge their loved ones, and LOVE is on most people’s minds! I have been (still am) a very devoted single mom of two — I have both a daughter (now 40) and a son (now 32). After my daughter left for college, my son (age 12 at the time) arranged for us to have a beautiful dinner. He put on a suit and gave me red roses (and chocolate truffles!). We sat there among 30 or so adult couples, and I felt so loved and proud!”
“Although I’d bought flowers and other gifts, my girlfriend was unhappy that I hadn’t made dinner plans. I scrambled and booked us into a cozy Victorian-style restaurant. But once we were seated, it was clear that she was still fixated on my oversight. A ‘discussion’ ensued, culminating in us furiously hissing at each other across the table while scenes of idyllic romance unfolded around us. The memory of our unhappiness and the romantic bliss around us makes me cringe and laugh to this day.”
“Paul, my partner of 41 years, and I were eating out at one of our favorite restaurants — little did we realize that this was to be our last meal out for a long, long time! We had been discussing marriage on and off, and the pandemic added new urgency to the discussion. Finally, Paul looked over at me and asked, ‘Are you asking me to marry you?’ So I did, and he said yes! Then he said he had been waiting a long, long time for me to ask! Two months later, as everything closed and gatherings were banned, we held a Zoom wedding. Valentine’s Day is now extra special as our engagement day!”
“For dinner at my house, my boyfriend of several years brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Unfortunately, they included the store receipt for two bouquets, making it obvious the woman who ‘rented’ a bedroom from him received the same Valentine’s gift (denied, of course). Sadly, it took me two more months to end that relationship.”
“We had been dating about eight months. On Valentine’s Day 1991, I met him after work at his apartment, where he had a dozen red roses waiting for me in a box. Lance Romance (as he jokingly calls himself) took me to dinner at Gene and Georgetti in Chicago, a famous old-school steakhouse. We had juicy steaks, salty onion rings and red wine, and then we went to the movie ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ We laughed at his poor taste in romantic movies and how much Anthony Hopkins looked like my dad. This year, we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.”
“My husband and I were both students at Seattle University and had met the first day of classes freshman year. We had a tiny apartment on Capitol Hill close to campus, an old car and not a whole lot of money. On our first Valentine’s Day, my husband was late coming home from his part-time job. (I wasn’t worried, it was just a little unusual.) Eventually, there was a timid knock on our front door. I opened it, and there stood my handsome husband with both hands behind his back. He started explaining his lateness by saying, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day. I wanted to buy you roses, but I only had $1, so I got you these.’ From behind his back, he pulled out two pink carnations. They were the most memorable flowers he ever gave me. Over the 53 years we have been married, he has given me beautiful roses many times, but the most memorable flowers he ever gave me were those two cute pink carnations!”
“This was our second date. Dinner was lovely, and after dinner, we relaxed in front of the fire. He had a glass of cognac that the waiter brought resting on a cup of hot water to warm the cognac to just the right temperature. As he lifted the glass, he had to tug as the hot water had created a seal — which suddenly let loose, resulting in the whole glass of cognac pouring over the front of my dress. Fortunately, the dress and I dried, we laughed and have spent 24 more Valentine’s Days together.”
“It was Valentine’s Day 1982 when I purchased a one-way airline ticket and moved to Seattle. A few years later, I met the man who became my husband and lifelong partner. We’ve celebrated many wonderful and romantic Valentine’s Days over the years — and yet, my most memorable ‘date’ was 40 years ago, when I boarded that plane and began a lifelong love affair with the Pacific Northwest.”
“Planning a year ahead for when we would be in India for Valentine’s Day (which is also our anniversary), I took my wife’s full body measurements in her sleep and sent them ahead to have an Indian wedding dress made. A year later in Rajasthan, I surprised her with a wedding party in the desert with a small group of friends. I arranged saris for the women and kurtas for the men. Women got henna. We rode in Jeeps to a trail where camels took us to a desert site with a Rajasthani band, fire dancers, hookahs, flower lei exchange and dinner.”
“We dressed up and went to Jazz Alley to hear Ernestine Anderson. Everything was wonderful, except my date was on call for his job, and it was back in the days when cellphones were in a briefcase (a large one). Sure enough, something happened, and he had to be on the phone. I was so embarrassed because we stood out since people didn’t have cellphones at that time. I don’t think I was very nice about it at the time, but my date was a very nice person, and very sweet to me, so I look back fondly at my Jazz Alley Valentine’s Day date with the phone in a briefcase.”
“I met my husband on Feb. 14 playing volleyball. Always one to know what he wants, he designed and ordered a wedding ring after only 10 weeks. Impatient as always, he showed it to my 15-year-old daughter. ‘Beautiful ring,’ she said. ‘Mom will never say yes. She’s an informed consumer.’ But I did say yes that summer, although I made him ask me twice just to be sure. The following Valentine’s Day, he asked me again on his knees at Palisade. I said yes, and the tables around us applauded.”
Valentine’s Day 2022
Here are a few Valentine’s Day date ideas for those who are looking for something to do.
If you’re reading this and haven’t made a dinner reservation for Feb. 14 yet, it’s definitely too late for a candlelit night at the likes of The Pink Door or Canlis, but don’t fret! Some restaurants are offering their holiday menu for several days. Elliott’s Oyster House is offering its Valentine’s Day menu Feb. 11-14. Menu options include love potion cocktails, a mix of fresh seafood like oysters and scallops and more, as well as Elliott’s regular menu items (prices vary; 1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56, Seattle; make reservations in advance at: elliottsoysterhouse.com).
For the last-minute planners on the Eastside, Japonessa is offering a Valentine’s dinner for two Feb. 11-14. Menu options include sushi and sashimi omakase, specialty rolls, strawberry pistachio cake and a bottle of wine ($150; 500 Bellevue Way N.E., Suite 130, Bellevue; japonessa.com; reservations at the Seattle location are fully booked for Valentine’s Day).
For those who want to nourish their love affair with the great outdoors, this romantic walk includes views of the sunset, Sound and seals in Seattle’s Sunset Hill. Or if you’re downtown, this walk is a great excuse to sample Seattle cupcakes, coffee, cookies and more. While you’re downtown, check out two festive pop-ups from fruitsuper and Foundry Vineyards Feb. 12-13 in Occidental Square (117 S. Washington St., Seattle). The pop-ups will feature paint-your-own ceramics, hand-painted valentines and sweets. You can also find a large Valentine’s Day ice sculpture with ample selfie opportunities in Occidental Square Feb. 12-13. Then, on Valentine’s Day, celebrate in the park with candy, cookies, roses and card giveaways.
If you’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to propose to your Pacific Northwest sweetie, then Mount Baker may be just what you’re looking for. On Feb. 13 and 14, the mountain is providing free wedding, vow renewal and commitment ceremonies right off the ski lifts. The ceremony locations are only accessible by skiing or riding, and participants and friends and family must have valid season passes or lift tickets for the day of the ceremony (prices vary; Mt. Baker Highway, Deming; mtbaker.us; apply for a wedding license in advance at: whatcomcounty.us/214/Marriage-License-Info).
And, of course, we can’t forget about Galentine’s Day. University District’s Mountaineering Club is hosting a Galentine’s Day Brunch Feb. 13. Complete with tarot readings, crafting friendship bracelets, a DJ, Belgian waffles, cheese fondue and more, this bestie brunch is a great way to celebrate the holiday (prices vary; 4507 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., Seattle; themountaineeringclub.com).
Happy Valentine’s Day!