Whether you've been together for five years, or you just finally got up the courage to ask out that cute brunette in your NATS class, Valentine's Day is your chance to show your significant (or not-so-significant) other how you really feel. It's the one day of the year that being googly-eyed and lovey-dovey isn't just annoying - it's required. Not only are you expected to profess your love/lust/libido, but you're expected to do it with flair (and a price tag).
What's that you say? You're still recovering from buying your books and paying off Christmas debt? Your bank account has a whopping balance of $30 and you don't get paid for another two weeks?
Well, you should hang your head in shame and give up. I mean, who would want to be with your broke ass anyway?
In fact, I'd rather be with your broke ass than someone who looks at Valentine's Day as an opportunity to buy companionship by maxing out Mommy and Daddy's credit card, and I'm not the only one.
You, my penny-pinching friend, can still provide your Valentine with an evening that they won't soon forget.
Chapter One: Gifts
While very few people would turn down a large, heart-shaped box of chocolates, it's not a very thoughtful gift. It's over-priced, clichéd and there are always at least three pieces of garbage dipped in wax.
And before you snag one of those oversized novelty cards, ask yourself whether your special someone would still "Choo-choo-choose you" after reading the mass-marketed message. Would they? I didn't think so.
Look at your extracurriculars. Do you like to paint? Paint a picture of your honeybunch. Can you draw? Sketch your little pumpkin (fully clothed, of course). Put those music lessons that mom and dad paid for to work, or just make a CD of songs that remind you of your love. Write a poem, avoiding the words "bosom," "throbbing" and "sugar-lips." Do an interpretive dance.
You get the idea. It means more than anything you can buy in a store, because it's from you, and it's about them.
Chapter Two: The Date
Aside from the fact that most romantic restaurants require reservations made weeks in advance, they're also stuffy and full of old people. Wouldn't it be so much more romantic to be alone, picnicking and watching the sunset? A trip to Savers (290 W. Fort Lowell Road or 5845 E. Broadway Blvd.) can provide you with a basket ($.99), wine glasses ($.99 each), and a vase ($.99).
You can find flowers in your neighbor's garden, empty hospital rooms, or graveyards. Use your blanket or a bedsheet as a tablecloth.
Now that you have all of the accessories, a trip to Trader Joe's (4209 N. Campbell Ave.) can provide you with the main course. Keep it simple and classy.
Trader Joe's 60 percent brie is $2.75 for a half pound. Serve with water crackers ($1.19), and you'll come across as quite refined. To add some diversity to your plate, pick up some hummus ($1.79) and mini-pitas ($.99). Round out the meal with some grapes ($3.29) and a bottle of Charles Shaw wine ($2.99). While you're waiting at the register, you might want to grab a tin of Altoids ($1.59).
Find a nice, private place to have your picnic. Tucson is home to many parks and elementary school playgrounds.
Chapter Three: You've eaten, now what?
You've spent a grand total of $18.55 (plus tax), and you've had a lovely time.
You've stared into each other's eyes, basked in love as dusk set in, and fed each other. As the wine takes it toll, and you find yourself back at your place, be sure to thank yourself for stopping at Campus Health earlier in the day.
The $11 you spent to procure a bag of 100 condoms should seem a mere pittance.
After all, isn't THAT what Valentine's Day is really all about?