I hate Valentine's Day. Always have, always will. As a chef, it was a triple-prep run-up to a horrible, soul-crushing day--huge business for the owners and servers and bartenders, but nothing but trouble for the white jackets in the back as the floor became flooded with rubes, knuckleheads and smoochy-faced idiots, all behaving as thought they'd never been to a restaurant before in their lives. Other than the Olive Garden, of course.
Serves him right...
As a civilian, I don't hate it any less. I'm not the most romantic guy in the world. Certainly not the most thoughtful, either. And even though I did manage to trick a girl into marrying me a few years back (my darling wife Laura, whom I got mostly by dint of my drunken charm and her preternatural weakness for short, pasty, literate Micks), I've managed to blow pretty much every V-Day we've spent together.
Thus, I don't write much about the holiday fetes being thrown by every restaurant in town that can come up with a special martini list and a hundred yards of pink bunting. Honestly, I couldn't care less. Want to find somewhere special to go with your sweetie on one of the three days of the year when every ambulatory biped goes out to eat? Then pick up a rock, throw it, and odds are good you're going to hit some place offering a chateaubriand for two and a bottle of cheap, domestic bubbly-wine.But what I do like is the anti approach: Diners that serve Christmas dinners to long-haul truckers away from home, bars that offer free drinks to single dads on Mother's Day, and joints that cater exclusively to the angry, the misanthropic, the socially retarded or, in the specific case of Valentine's Day, the willfully single. And the best, most engaging deal I've found so far is the singles-only karaoke party being thrown at STIR on Sunday, February 14.
Actually, the Bellevue bar is doing a whole weekend's worth of un-Valentine's Day events, but the karaoke thing caught my eye for two reasons. One, because the house is operating under a "no love songs" guarantee for the night. And two, because there's nothing quite so ironically beautiful as a bunch of hammered and vulnerable party girls belting out a slurred rendition of "Love Stinks" by the J. Geils Band, and then gladly going home with the first guy willing to hold their hair back while they give back those eleven pink cosmos they downed at the bar before getting up in front of the mic.
Granted, it ain't exactly my kind of scene these days. But if I were single, bitter, cynical and had cosmo-proof seatcovers in my ride, STIR is exactly where I'd be come Valentine's Day.