This year, my day begins bright and early, at 8 a.m. Mom wakes me for her traditional Valentine’s Day breakfast: homemade, whole wheat waffles topped with sugary strawberries and handmade whipped cream and powdered sugar. Red candies speckle the frothy top of my hot chocolate, which is filled to the brim of a beautiful, white china cup that we use only for special occasions like today. Individually wrapped chocolates sprinkle the dining room table, and even the napkins and place mats and center piece are heart-themed. (When we were kids, Mom used to leave Valentine’s baskets for us outside of our bedroom doors, Easter Bunny style, and then scatter paper hearts down the hallway. We’d follow the heart path until reaching the kitchen, where an explosion of candy and presents awaited us.) (I guess twenty-three-year-old boomerangers are too old for this part, though, because it doesn’t happen this year.)
After scarfing my last bite of sugared berries, I fall into a deep coma. I come to at 11:30 a.m., sprawled across the couch, tangled in a fuzzy white blanket and two obese cats. The breakfast mess has been cleaned, and Mom and Dad lounge in the living room, relaxed, effortlessly finishing The New York Times’ Sunday crossword.
My feet hit the floor and I bound to life.
I splash my cheeks and nose with bronzer, curl my short lashes, and iron my freshly cut, freshly colored mane that clings to my cheeks as a result of my sound mid-morning nap. My Jeep rumbles to life as I turn the key and take off down the quiet, tree-contoured street – the one that has reintroduced eighteen years of memories since I’ve moved back from San Francisco.
I’m meeting a special, longtime friend for a schmaltzy, cheesy afternoon. (Literally.) Our shared love for cheese leads us to Whole Foods, where we stock up on a variety of cheeses that the cheesemonger tells us will be tasty on grilled sandwiches. (I learn that the guy behind this counter at Whole Foods is called a cheesemonger.) (I like to call him a cheese mongrel, because it’s funnier. Just so you know.)
The mongrel lets us sample pieces of elaborate Gruyère and we take our picks and make a b-line for the wine section. A bottle of $6.99 cabernet is today’s winner, and I dump it in the basket along with a loaf of rustic rosemary bread, peppered bacon and turkey, three kinds of cheese, crackers, avocado and tomato. (These sandwiches are so effing good, they’d be painful to read about.) (I'm doing you a favor by moving on.) (You're welcome.)
Next, Special Friend and I spend four hours in Dipinto A Mano, a pottery-painting shop in Lake Oswego. I adorn a cereal bowl for him, and he paints a coffee mug for me. We do this with such precision and accuracy that I’m almost positive the doddery lady who runs the store thinks we have serious psychological and behavioral disorders. (Then again, she doesn’t notice the fine malt liquor we’re guzzling while decorating, which is a main contributor to our conduct.)
(Note: Today at 4 p.m. we get to pick up our masterpieces. I’ll let you know how they turn out.)
Afterward we have a slice of cheesecake. And there has never been a more perfect end to a perfectly cheesy Valentine’s Day.