Too often around Valentine's Day, there's a moment when you'd like to lose the one you love. Just have him or her disappear. Maybe reappear on Feb. 15, no questions asked. Not that you have anything against your sweetheart. Fact of the matter is, things have been going pretty well lately. No, the dilemma concerns the Day of Love itself.
For some reason, nothing you might think of doing seems quite right. The problem is that all the traditional things to do on Valentine's Day--cards, flowers, candy, a lovely little piece of jewelry, an intimate dinner in some cozy restaurant--are so, well, traditional.
Want Something Spectacular
What you want is a grand gesture. Something with style. Something that will enthrall your sweetheart, absolutely shatter him or her with your generosity, imagination and devotion to the other's happiness. Let's let John R. Hundley be an inspiration to us all.
Who's John R. Hundley? He's the owner of a Downey-based construction firm, a resident of Laguna Hills, and Friday he stunned his wife, Bette, with the announcement that they were flying to New York for the weekend.
Listen to their agenda: Friday night at a Rodney Dangerfield concert, supper at Regine's and a horse-drawn carriage ride back to the hotel (though this may be canceled, what with the weather); Saturday morning at Christie's Furs for a new mink coat, lunch at the Windows on the World restaurant, dinner at Trumpet's, the top restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which is where they are staying, orchestra seats at "Phantom of the Opera" and finally, the Rainbow Room for champagne, desserts and dancing. Just brunch and lingering are planned for Sunday before the Hundleys return to California.
It should be said: Hundley didn't come up with this whole agenda himself. It's the New York Grand Hyatt's top Valentine's package: $10,000, all inclusive. Also, this wasn't just a Valentine extravagance. The Hundleys are celebrating their 31st wedding anniversary.
The Grand Hyatt had only one of these $10,000 packages available, and now Hundley has that. But you might still be able to get in on the "Ultimate Lover's Dining Experience" being offered by the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara for $1,000.
If a nice dinner in Santa Barbara doesn't work for you, there are still more possibilities.
First, however, let's establish that none of these preclude the cute card, the flowers and the candy. Those are as integral to Valentine's Day as eggnog and pine wreaths are to Christmas, fireworks and hot dogs to the Fourth of July, dreidels and potato latkes to Hanukkah.
Even here though, there are variations. You could give the card or the flowers anonymously, or sign just an initial, the way people did in the early days of Valentine-ing. Originally, you see, the valentine was considered a mock sentiment, a way of teasing the object of your affections, a flirtation. Rather than an intense statement of one's willingness to make a commitment, love was seen as a highly enjoyable state where people laughed and smiled a lot.
Today, it's entirely relevant to ask yourself if you care enough to improve. If so, the perfect Valentine's Day gift might be some therapy. You and your love could do it together.
If you own a computer, how about springing $50 or so for one of the new computer software programs such as InterActive Softwear's Heart-to-Heart, where you place your love seat in front of your PC (IBMs and compatibles) and answer questions about your relationship. The program then generates a guided communication session for a private couple discussion. (You can place orders for Heart-to-Heart by calling (800) 424-7669.)
Considerably more intense, the 10-session computer-assisted psychotherapy program developed by Santa Monica psychotherapist Dr. Roger Gould begins tomorrow, Valentine's Day, at Pritikin Centers around the Southland.
The idea is to use the computer to cut away all the hours used in normal therapy to define the areas of stress. The problems are then worked out with a specially trained counselor. Ten hourlong sessions, split between the computer and the therapist, are $40 each. The program is also available through several private psychologists and the Cigna Health Plan, and at College Hospital in Cerritos, South Coast Counseling Center in Costa Mesa and Los Altos Hospital in Long Beach.
If therapy seems too offbeat a Valentine, there are other gestures of affection. Romance guru Robert Badal, whose seminars around the Southland have expanded to a monthly newsletter called "Romancing L.A." (available for $36 a year from Badal at 195 Claremont, Suite 108, Long Beach 90803), is big on playing out romantic fantasies.
For an afternoon straight out of "Love Story," for instance, how about wandering over to UCLA and picnicking in the sculpture garden, maybe stopping by the Wight Gallery or taking in the free concert by the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at Royce Hall.