Friday, February 10, 2012

A Thrifty Valentine's Day in Portland, ME

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Whether your girlfriend says she "doesn't care" about Valentine's Day or not, you should probably do something for the occasion. I know. It's a fake holiday. It's totally commercialized. You shouldn't be told by chocolate companies and Hallmark which day of the year to express your love for somebody.Yada Yada. This doesn't change the fact that if you listen to your girlfriend's half-hearted attempts to convince you she "doesn't care," you will most likely be met with a very icy, disappointed (and less than willing to put out) woman come February 14th. Sorry, I didn't make the rules. I just live in this world and try my best to survive like the rest of you.

So, what's a dude to do?* If you're young and still paying off those pesky student loans, spending money on a holiday you don't really believe in is probably the last thing you want to do. Well, lucky for you, I've got some ideas for the thrifty romantic.

*This post doesn't apply to dudes only. Or just heterosexual couples. This is an equal opportunity blog. Love is love. And pissed off significant others are very real, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Essentially, this "advice" is for anyone in a relationship with someone more romantic than themselves. It's time to bring your "A" game gents, ladies, whoever you are. I'm also concentrating on younger couples--we still play games. I don't know why this happens but young people are idiots and don't often like to tell each other what they really want.

Let's start with dinner. If you do decide you want to drop some dollah bills and plan on taking your special someone out for a fancy meal on Valentine's Day, don't be a bonehead: make reservations now! As it's less than one week away from V-Day, some Portland restaurants might already be booked. Call ahead. You will be embarrassed if you tell your honey she's about to be treated to a four course meal at Five Fifty Five and end up barely able to get a grease-stained seat at Five Guys. Don't know where to go? Here's a helpful rundown of some Portland-area restaurants doing V-Day dinner specials.

Extra points for making heart-shaped foods! Actually, that's kind of lame...
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If you're reading this blog, you are probably broke so you're not going to be taking anyone out to dinner. That's fine. Cook dinner instead. What's your special lady's (or guy's) favorite meal? Start there. Get on punchfork and find a recipe that looks doable. If you're not a great cook, practice! You've got a few days. Even if you totally screw the whole thing up, most people would be very touched that you a) remembered their favorite meal and b) tried to cook it. Brownie points galore, which means you're probably going to get laid.* Worse case scenario: you burn it to char. Guess what? OTTO Pizza delivers. Problem solved.

*Apologies to the members of my family who read this. I don't even know what that means. I just heard it in a movie once.

Now, if you want to actually leave your apartment, there's some cool stuff going on in Portland that won't permemantly destroy your credit history.

For the beer-loving Valentine, Novare Res Bier Cafe is the place to be. From February 10th-February 14th, they are hosting a Valentine's Choco Pairing. 8 handcrafted beers paired with 8 handcrafted chocolates courtesy of Sweet Marguerites. Chocolate is always sexy (have you seen Chocolat with Johnny Depp!??!)--add some alcohol, and who knows what might happen. While the financially-challenged wooer may get anxiety about beer prices at Novare Res, it's not that bad. Plus, Bud Lite really doesn't go well with handcrafted chocolate. Just suck it up and spend a little extra. Hint: don't get drunk! You'll spend less and your chances of remaining smooth are way higher.

Since Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday this year, a lot of celebration events are actually going down over the weekend.

If your girlfriend/boyfriend isn't the most romantic of honeydips, that's OK. Tonight, Geno's is hosting an Anti-Valentine's Day Prom. Dust off that tux/old prom dress and get ready to relive high school. No, actually, it's going to be much cooler than high school, because there's (legal) alcohol and you don't have a curfew. It's only $5 if you dress up ($7 if you're lame and don't), so your bank account is safe. Also, When Particles Collide, Yes We Kin, A Severe Joy, and Pretty & Nice are all playing this show. Four bands for $5? Bargain city.

Is your honey a Mad Man fan? Well, then you should probably head to Bayside Bowl this Saturday for their 60s-era themed MadLove Valentine's Day event. Dressing up like Don Draper is basically guaranteed sexy times. It's only $5 to get in, and there's going to be sweet music from the '50s and '60s all night, so if your Valentine likes to dance you can spin her around the dance floor like a boss.

Want to be really romantic? Check out Petite Jacqueline's French Movie Night this Sunday, February 12th. I just blogged about this the other week because it's freakin' awesome. The movie itself is free (this week they're screening French romance classic A Man and A Woman), and you don't necessarily have to buy your date dinner. Make dinner at home then go for the movie and dessert ($5-7). Boom--finance problems solved and you still look like quite the romantic baller.

I get it: french cinema isn't for everyone. If subtitles stress you out, maybe try hitting up Boda across the street, instead. This self-dubbed "very Thai" kitchen features 1/2 price deals on their late night menu Sundays after 9. Their food is delicious, and you're still keepin' it pretty classy (while on a budget) by taking your date to a tapas bar.

Looking for things to do on the actual holiday? Once again Bayside Bowl is a good place to start. Their country night Too Broke To Be This Drunk features Valentine's Duets. The cover for this honky tonk love fest is once again, only $5. I realize country's not for everyone (though Too Broke is a hell of a lotta fun), so I'm also going to tell you that Cover to Cover is back at the Big Easy! To kick off their second season, they have the marvelous jazz poet Lazy Zen covering Erykah Badu's Baduizm. If a little R&B/neo-soul doesn't get you in the mood, I don't know what will on Valentine's Day.

Really, Valentine's Day is about being together--not grand gestures or ridiculous amounts of spending. You don't need to name a star after her (God, don't do that). You don't need to propose...that's corny, and if you do, I hope she says no on the grounds of your crappy imagination. Just show them that you're glad to be their main squeeze. Whether you guys like to go to concerts, movies, restaurants, whatever--just do something together. It'll be nice. If you actually like this person, which I hope you do as you're in a relationship with them, you'll probably even have fun.

If you aren't seeing anyone special this V-Day, please don't be a Debbie Downer about it. What's the big deal? Valentine's Day is supposed to be about appreciating the people you love. Just because you're not getting any doesn't mean you have to overdose on junk food and cry while you listen to Adele's "Someone Like You" (What? I've never done that...). Call your parents, your grandparents, your sister, your best friend, whoever you love, and tell them you love them. Be happy you're lucky enough to have such wonderful people in your life, and then move on to February 15th.

 "No, I don't hate Bradley Cooper for being erroneously voted People's Sexiest Man Alive. Why do you say that?"

Another excellent "single" Valentine's Day option: Ryan Gosling movies are On Demand all month long, so really, how bad can being alone really be? I know--just when you think Time Warner Cable is the antichrist, they go and do something saintly like this. So, open a bottle of red, treat yourself to your favorite chocolates, and enjoy endless hours of Gosling. That sounds better than pretty much any other V-Day alternative, single or not. Oh, and whatever you do, don't do this.

Until next time, may your Valentine's Day be filled with yummy food, tasty beers, skinny ties, maybe some sexy times, and above all else, Ryan Gosling.

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