Dategirl’s Romance Without Finance

A guide to sexing up the new economy.

Valentine's Day is always a high-pressure holiday. Much like New Year's Eve, when HAVING A FREAKIN' AWESOME GREAT TIME is a requirement, a less-than-stellar V-Day can call your entire relationship into question. And this year, with the economy in the crapper and jobs being shed faster than Bret Michaels is losing his hair, there's even more pressure.Sadly, this pressure seems to land most squarely on the dude half of the hetero relationship equation. Perhaps it's payback for monthly periods, childbirth, and the wage gap, but we womenfolk aren't really expected to do much more than sit back and enjoy our Valentine's Day. Sure, some of us will purchase a card or maybe halfheartedly offer a backrub, but this is really a day for the ladies. You guys are supposed to deliver, and deliver big.But who can afford spendy jewelry when you're not even positive that your next paycheck is going to clear? That's if you're lucky enough to still have a job. According to a press release that landed in my inbox last week, IBISWorld Research predicts that Valentine's Day spending will be down 4.8% from last year. (I do not know who IBISWorld is either, but if it's on the interwebs, it must be true, right?) So rest assured you won't be the only one cheaping out this week.In the interest of stimulating your love life without emptying your wallet, I'm going to give you some no-lose scenarios. Men, fear not. Ladies, let's lower those expectations, pronto.Ditch the teddy bearsI'm sorry, but plushy stuffed animals quit being an appropriate gift the minute you sprout down-there hairs. Cooing over Paddington Bear might be adorable when you're 6, but it's just plain creepy when you're 32. So instead of inflating Gund's books this year, grab your Special Naked Friend, hop a ferry out to Bainbridge Island, and spend the day volunteering at The Furrytale Farm. You and your beliked can take Jake the Dalmatian on a long walk, groom Juliet the pretty white horse, or just help the staff with feeding and cleaning. Live animals are way cuter than the store-bought kind, and you'll feel good because you'll have done good. As a bonus, you get that sunset cruise home at dusk.DIY your Valentine's dinnerTrue, you could shell out a lot of dough at a restaurant and be surrounded by other couples looking more madly in love than you. But much more fun is cooking your Lovey Lumps a special dinner designed to get you both in the mood. First, stop at Barnes & Noble and thumb through a copy of InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook to figure out what you're making. Maybe jot down a few recipes. (Normally I encourage indie bookstores and actual purchases, but we're on a budget here.) Stop off at the Broadway QFC to pick up your ingredients, along with a couple extra cans of tuna or stew to drop in the Chicken Soup Brigade barrel on your way out. Make a pit stop at Pike Place Market for some Kumamoto oysters to shuck at home. Pick up a bottle of nice fizzy prosecco (cheaper than champers, and my unrefined palate can't tell the diff), and you're set.One more thing—put a little effort into the ambience. Light a couple of candles, shove your dirty clothes under the bed, and make sure your apartment doesn't smell like feet (or worse). And seriously—don't forget the lighting. Even a charred steak looks good by candlelight.Role-playMy all-time favorite Valentine's Day was the one when I walked into my apartment and found my man rocking a black suit and a skinny dark tie—channeling Mr. Pink (aka Steve Buscemi) from one of my all-time favorite movies, Reservoir Dogs. He had a bottle of champagne and some snacks, a card, and a director's cut of the movie. We didn't re-enact any scenes from the film, because, well, that would've involved a lot of hollering and cutting off of ears, but what we did do was way more fun than a restaurant-and-movie date. Because unlike at the theater, we didn't have to keep our clothes on. There are tons of great flicks you can use to create ambience for your in-home movie date. Examples: Break out the butter and act out Last Tango in Paris, or grab a jar of honey and make like Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in 9½ Weeks. Chocolat holds all sorts of delicious promise.Lastly, try to remember that while Valentine's Day is certainly the schmaltziest of holidays, and many of us (myself included) tend to write it off as a Hallmark holiday, it's really just a day to be extra nice to your partner. And that's never a bad thing.dategirl@seattleweekly.com

 
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