If you get the impression from this photo that I am hostile towards Valentine's Day, let me assure you that you are not mistaken, I am. I owe it no loyalty and consider it something to be vanquished rather than celebrated. The day has tried earnestly to sour me on love -- but ultimately failed as it left me with experiences which taught real life lessons more efficiently than pithy greeting card copy can.
But reading sappy life lessons on love is not why you visit Sis Boom Blog and this heart shaped blob of milk-fat is one of the sappiest of all Valentine's Day desserts. (It was chosen as this week's French Friday's with Dorie assignment.) So it compels me to share with you the story of my 25th Valentine's Day. The one with Dr. Frank.
I was 25 years old and because I had suppressed all dating activity until I exited college, this phase of my life was characterized by the premature sense of urgency I felt each time possible romance presented itself. It was as if each chance at love was my last chance passing me by when, of course, the sweet-spot for love hadn't even started. At twenty five I was not the bitter food blogger you see before you today. I had not yet soured on the Valentine's Day ideal.
And then I met Dr. Frank.
Dr Frank was "all that and a bag of chips" when I met him. In fact, he was holding a bag of chips while cruising me heavily at my local supermarket. His overt and unashamed manner was something I had not yet experienced out in public quite like this. I actually turned my head to look behind me to make sure it was me he was staring at. The reflexive action of a guy who had survived the previous 15 years by becoming invisible.
I botched the meeting with my inexperienced and awkward small talk that never allowed for either of us an opportunity to "close the deal". I scampered off sheepishly to the safety of my bachelorhood.
We would meet again several months later at a party thrown by a mutual friend. Dr. Frank recognized me and proceeded to flirt even more shamelessly than before. His confidence had me under a spell. He showed me attention and asked me if I would like a cocktail; all the qualification necessary to secure a date with me in those days. By the end of the evening I was head-over-heals and began planning our wedding and eventual retirement to the Italian countryside.
Outwardly he was everything I would ever want. Five years older than me, he was handsome beyond measure, successful, confident, unashamed, and most importantly interested. Inwardly he was, well, actually I hadn't quite learned how to see inside people yet.
Dating Dr. Frank was never easy but always exciting and passionate. I could never count on him to call when he said he would and most of the time I never knew when I would see him next. This made it difficult for me to work out my own internal Dr. Frank fantasies but it did make it easier for me to project onto him any reality I felt he should have.
"He just forgot to call because he's under a lot of work stress right now."Did I mention the sex was great? I had a lot to learn then about dating and relationships but when Dr. Frank and I were actually physically together I would forget all about such things and just feel good that we were together and we were boyfriends.
We had dated all of 3 months by the time Valentine's Day rolled around and I knew this would be the special Valentine's Day that I craved! The 25 year old me who never dated anyone for that length of time anxiously (albeit passively) waited for Dr. Frank's invitation.
Surely he had planned something special!
Dr. Frank eventually would call to invite me to the local hot restaurant doing Valentine's menu. I would get the double satisfaction of romantic prix-fixe dinner date with my hot guy I but also the pubic presentation of us as a couple that hadn't quite materialized yet. Our coupled happiness would be on display for all to see.
In hindsight there were probably many signs I chose to ignore which would have indicated the night (and our relationship) would not end well. Dr. Frank didn't pick me up that night as usual in his pride-and-joy Mercedes but instead asked me to meet him at the restaurant.
"He's so busy taking care of patients so I don't mind at all."
Even thought I did. After I parked my car and walked in, alone, I was walked back to our table by the host who knew just about everyone in town by name. To my astonishment there were four other people there sitting at the table with my boyfriend.
Dr. Frank saw my approach, stood up, and then came over to kiss me hello. He then proceeded to introduce me to our table-mates: there was Tom (his "ex" who was very handsome), Darrel (his "other ex" and even more handsome), and finally Carlo and Michael -- whom he introduced as "the other guys I'm dating right now".
I remember a piercing punch head pain followed by a cacophony of unintelligible table chit-chat my pounding heart would not let me hear while I tried to keep my composure. My WASPy upbringing had taught us not to ever show our emotions but I was struggling. Was I to already have know about these people in Frank's life? Who were they? And more importantly, why were they at MY Valentine's Day celebration?
Had this been a movie this would be the moment at which I would shout "how dare you!" and then throw my cocktail in his face and storm out of the restaurant while declaring to the onlookers that he was an asshole. I'm sure I wanted to do just that but understanding that this was no movie and WASP training is hard to break even in such circumstances, I quietly sat down to a dinner with Dr. Frank's other boyfriends.
I'm sure I realized a thorough self-debrief of the last three months would eventually take place at a later time (possibly with a therapist). For now, all eyes in the restaurant seemed to be on me knowingly and watching me to see how I will react to Dr. Frank's Valentine dinner tradition.
And besides, Carlo, one of Dr. Frank's other unsuspecting boyfriends was kind of hot.
Carlo was dark and Italian looking and we quickly bonded over the mutual unjustice done to us at Dr. Frank's, um, hands. We drank expensive cocktails on the doctor's tab while sharpening our wit at his expense. We turned our table for six into a sexy table for two and it became our first date. Despite sitting next to the wreckage of our supposed relationships we seemed determined take it on the chin and make the best of it.
Carlo too was bold and also asked if I would like another cocktail. I was single again so I was allowed to feel "smitten" again and jumped at the chance. Love was passing me by after all.
Carlo and I eventually said our tipsy goodbyes at the table to Dr. Frank and his romantic past. They hadn't paid much attention to us during dinner (gratefully) and we them so we doubted they would miss us much so we left them to the rest of their lives.
It was fun making a big show of walking back through the restaurant and to the lobby togetherholding hands and acting as if we had just had the best dinner of our lives. We kissed goodnight at the front door and Carlo offered to walk me to my car. What a gentleman!
As we passed the one true love of Dr. Frank's life, his Mercedes, Carlo quickly took out a serrated steak knife which he apparently had pocketed from the restaurant and plunged it easily into the driver's side front tire -- simultaneously deflating the poor doctor's ride home and my hopes for a new boyfriend.
It would be the last time I saw Carlo. I was finally learning the benefits of paying attention to 'the signs'. I consider lesson that my Valentine's gift from Dr. Frank and I actually remember him fondly for it. It was not the last time I would see Dr. Frank as he would return to make several key appearances later on in my life - although never with the same sense of gravitas and drama he had when I was only twenty five and in a hurry.
Damn Valentine's Day.
Coeur à la Crème
as interpreted by Dorie Greenspan in "Around My French Table"
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 8 oz ..... oh heck. Just Google a recipe as they are all close to the same and Ms. Greenspan's is a bit too fluffy and soft for my taste. I prefer my hearts with a bit more substance and heft.
This dish was an assignments for French Friday's with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan's culinary tome "Around My French Table". We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers I will either include it here or provide a direct link. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe