When John and I were college kids, we'd hop into his VW bus, head for the mountains and pick up strawberries and champagne along the way. We had romance down cold.
Now, as Valentine's Day approaches, I can't think of a single romantic idea. Just what CAN you do after all these years? Candy's fattening, lingerie's silly (at least the way I look in it), a weekend getaway is extravagant, dinner out is commonplace, the same old flowers are boring.
When all else fails, consult the experts ...
What they said
Of course, says Mitchell Cohn, owner of Edwards Florists in Liberty, roses are the traditional flower for Valentine's Day. But to be more creative, Cohn suggests gardenias, which are beautiful and fragrant. Other romantic choices include the iris and daffodils. When Cohn gives though, he generally makes an arrangement of gardenias with lavender.
"It really depends on what you can afford," Cohn says, especially in reference to giving roses. "If money is tight, one rose is better than going into debt. If money is not a problem, one, two or three dozen roses is great."
As for giving roses to the man in your life, Cohn says, it's "completely acceptable." You might give red roses, or turn to the terra cotta and earth-toned roses. If you want to venture out from the traditional, other manly choices, Cohn said, are the tropicals -- like Bird of Paradise, Antheriums and ginger arrangements.
Deborah McCullough, manager of Adult Services with the Mahoning Public libraries, suggested romantic reading. "I love the classics like 'Jane Eyre' and 'Wuthering Heights'," she said. "I guess you can call them classic romantic suspense." She also recommended the Random House Treasury of Favorite Love Poems.
And, McCullough pointed out, there is always Shakespeare:
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date ..."
(If that seems a little much for you, Jack Prelutsky also wrote a love poem called, "I Love You More Than Applesauce, which goes: "I love you more than applesauce; than peaches and a plum, than chocolate hearts and cherry tarts and berry bubblegum...")
McCullough also had these other suggestions: "Valentine's Day: Stories and Poems," edited by Caroline Feller; "Love Poems" by Nikki Giovanni; "50 Great Love Letters of all Times," and, of course, "Sonnets from the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (even the least romantic person knows the words, "How do I love thee, let me count the ways.")
OK, we've got a copy of "Wuthering Heights" next to the fireplace, we've memorized a sonnet, we've got champagne chilling and strawberries in a crystal bowl. Now then, what's next? Music.
"One of my all-time favorites is 'Wonderful Tonight' by Eric Clapton," said Al Simones, owner of Purple Phrogg Records in North Lima. "That's just a classic. And another is 'I Love You,' which is played at weddings all the time. That just gives you goosebumps. It's by the Climax Blues Band. Probably kind of tough to find, but it's one of the all-all-time classic love songs."
And what does Simones use? "It depends on the girl and the situation, and what you're trying to do," he said with a laugh. When pressed, he pulled out this old Beatles hit, "In My Life."
"There are places I'll remember
In my life, I've loved them all ...
But of all these friends and lovers
In my life I love you more."
Now, that's romantic.