It’s Valentine’s Day, and there’s lots of different places to spend it, whether you’re spending it with loved ones, someone special, on a first date, or treating yourself to a Party of One. Here at the Recorder, we’ve done a quick run-down of the Worst Places to Spend Valentine’s Day, so that you don’t have to experience them for yourself.
Hands down, the worst spot to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Chicago is at any restaurant, particularly any restaurant that could be considered fancy. If you didn’t call to get a reservation weeks or even months in advance, you have to dine at 3:00 in the afternoon or 11:00 at night. The restaurants are filled with couples on first dates or couples getting engaged, which I’m not sure why anyone would voluntarily choose to be around. And you get stuck with prix-fixe menus and up charges for everything under the sun. If you really want to have a romantic date with your love, head to your own kitchen. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just the fact that you are cooking dinner is impressive! But please, please, please avoid the restaurant reservations. Just think how awkward it will be if you aren’t crazy about the person you’re with or it’s just a casual thing and the lady at the table next to you is exclaiming about the gigantic rock she just found in her lava cake.
There is a time and a place for long romantic walks through the Chicago greenery. Valentine’s Day is NOT THAT TIME and Lincoln Park is NOT THAT PLACE. I can’t speak from 100% pure experience, but when my now ex-girlfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary, we went to a parkside restaurant, I got the directions wrong, and we basically walked at least three-quarters of a mile in finery (including her heels), and by the time we reached our destination we were sore, cold, and momentarily less enthused with each other. This was May. Imagine setting out for a tete-a-tete stroll in a slushy, black ice-filled world of snowdrifts and hidden pitfalls and your fingers getting frozen if you leave them out for ten seconds so you can’t even hold hands. I realize this advice sounds like common sense, but as a person who’s been known to throw that quality out every window…
The worst place to spend Valentine’s Day in Chicago is at any kind of anti-Valentine’s Day gathering. I’ve heard of a few of these and they baffle me. If the holiday is something you simply don’t care about, then skip it, but to attend an event that actively protests it is just dumb. Valentine’s Day gets such a bad rap thanks to over-commercialization and the misunderstanding that it’s a day only about romance. But Valentine’s Day is about love of every kind. If romantic love is not your thing (or not currently in your life), call your family or your best friends and tell them you love them. Volunteer at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen and spread some love to those who may see it least. Or get a massage and focus on loving yourself, which is by far the hardest of all of these to do. But whatever you do, skip anything anti-Valentine’s Day. Protesting love is just dumb.
Some quick suggestions for the Worst Place to Spend Valentine’s Day:
- Inside of a grizzly bear
- Under the 1-90-1-94 Dan Ryan Expressway
- Locked inside of a trunk
- Inside of a polar bear
- Onstage at a Michael Richards comedy show
- Lake Michigan (it’s cold as balls in there, you guys)
- Inside of a tiger
- Hanging out at Wrigley waiting for the god damned bleachers to get finished
- Any bar in Wrigleyville – think TBOX but hornier
- Trapped in the foyer of your apartment building because you get caught being so courteous that you keep holding the door for people going inside and people going outside, only there’s a perpetual stream, so much so that you realize that time and space have transcended reality and you’re now trapped in a Back to the Future-esque timeloop where you have become your building’s doorman
- Inside of a T-Rex, although if that were possible, it means that dinosaurs are now actively roaming the earth enough to pose a threat on Valentine’s Day, which is hella dope once you think about it for a minute or two, so that might not actually be so bad
I don’t think I’ve ever really had a bad Valentine’s Day in Chicago, aside from that time I watched Blue Valentine with a dude. I credit this to my love of doing Valentine’s Day dinners at home, and not in restaurants. I second Andrew’s suggestion of not going out of your way on a cold Saturday night — stay in your ‘hood! — and also Gina’s advice of not giving into to the negativity that can surround the holiday. Celebrate the love you have in your life, no matter the form! Personally, I will be throwing a brunch at my house for a ton of women I super admire, and then taking my dude to a party at my friend Kate’s. She throws the best parties and I know it’ll be low-key and low-pressure.
I’m trying to recall the name of the place, but it was somewhere in the South Pacific. Sounds romantic, right? Tropical cruise, exotic island, beautiful landscape…it wasn’t. First, it was hard to sleep on the boat, as we were plagued with weird nightmares. And I’m pretty sure the island wasn’t even on the itinerary when we dropped anchor there. There was no beach, either, just a vast expanse of green-tinged stone. Don’t get me wrong, the view was amazing – but it’s hard to gaze into your lover’s eyes when the non-Euclidean architecture keeps shifting behind her.
We brought home a statuette as a souvenir, but the cats won’t stop hissing at it. Overall, it was a terrible spot for Valentine’s Day. What was its name? Oh yeah, R’lyeh. Don’t go to R’lyeh with your valentine. Totally not worth the trip.
I was unsure what to contribute here, until I remembered that my in-laws (Becky’s parents) are in town this weekend. This is in no way a slam against my in-laws, but it made me imagine a scenario where Becky and I go on a Valentine’s double-date with them. Again, they are good folk, but something about that concept sounded so awkward that my hair fell out all over again. Being with your significant other’s family can treacherous, so my best suggestion is to not accentuate that by making the holiday set aside for romance into a weekend with mom and dad. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go prepare to do exactly that.
A Chicago rooftop, with your partner’s arm wrapped tightly around you. The wind beats thoughtlessly, but a lightly creamed mug of strong coffee and the burning flame of love warms you. Is that the sun, or your partner’s smile? Both are radiant, both bring light to your life. Climbing down into your spacious and well appointed home, you slip. Your partner catches you, as always, and your heart beats faster for the moment that stretches into forever. You wake up later, after communicative and passionate sex where desire is expressed and fulfilled almost simultaneously, and look at the calendar. It’s Groundhog Day, yet again.