Turns out McDonalds is a bad choice on Valentine’s Day. Now before you send me any hate mail, or join in my wife’s chorus of “what were you thinking???” let me provide some context. It was Kara who asked to stop at McDonalds, all I did was ruin my supper. Secondly, putting me in front of a dollar menu and asking me to practice self-control is like putting my son in the tub and requesting that he not urinate. It’s just not going to happen.
Kara and I were engaged during the infamous Valentine’s Day of 2010, and at the time we were living three hours apart. We only saw each other twice a month and so every moment together was savored. Even though we couldn’t be together for the actual holiday, Kara and I decided we’d celebrate Valentine’s Day the following weekend when I’d be visiting her. Our celebration was going to involve cooking supper together, with each of us planning different parts of the meal. Kara has always loved to cook, and I’ve always been woefully inadequate in this department, so this really was going to be an adventure. I struggle with any recipes that go beyond, “unwrap and put in microwave for…” and for this special meal I had planned steak with a bleu cheese sauce. I wanted to impress Kara, and the menu I had selected was the equivalent of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The meal turned out better than I could have expected, however the real tragedy occurred three hours earlier. Kara and I had been registering for our upcoming wedding in the early afternoon, and we shopped right through lunch (another part of the disaster that I can’t be blamed for). At about three o’clock we were getting ready to head over to her house and begin our romantic meal. Kara was starving and knew she wouldn’t be able to wait until supper was ready at six, and so she recommended getting something small at McDonalds (which was a miracle because she never wanted to eat there), just to tide us over until the main course. You know, something to settle our stomachs so we could focus on each other through the evening. And that’s when it happened. In this great country a buck still means something, namely a double cheeseburger at any of the thousands upon thousands of McDonalds throughout this land. It seemed unpatriotic not to order two. Kara glared at me disapprovingly; I knew that dinner was the highlight of the day, right? I knew that we’re eating in three hours, right? I knew how hard we’ve both worked on the menu, right?
I did know those things, but I was confident in my ability to have two great meals that day. Three bites into our romantic supper I realized my mistake. Apparently my body was no longer able to digest the soft plastics in fast food like it could when I was twelve. What was I going to do? I started to sweat as I pushed green beans and mashed potatoes around my plate. My mouth was dry. I tried to cut smaller and smaller pieces from the steak and swallow them with the utmost effort. Kara had noticed but she allowed me to squirm, she just watched me with knowing eyes and said nothing. I wondered if bouncing would help create more space. I thought I was going to throw up and then finally Kara said I told you so using the words, “You’re full, aren’t you?”
After some anger, a few tears, and some unhelpful comments about my petite stomach, Kara and I were able to resolve this crisis and can now look back on it and laugh. I did learn a lesson that year that I hope I don’t forget. Although Valentine’s Day has largely been commercialized with the rest of our holidays, it does still call us to romance, to doing something special for the one we love, and that is always a good thing. The fiery passion that goes along with being in love fades at times in every relationship, but the real trick is rekindling that fire, which all of us can do with special meals, dates, or other thoughtful gestures that show you care. There is a part of romance that is always out of our control, but the more important part will always be in our hands!