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Don't Call Her Cheap : A Sylmar woman takes the prize in Valley Life's dating contest with her suggestions for low-budget romance.


It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear; Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! --William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet"

Anne Williams doesn't think of herself as a cheapskate, but she knows how to date--and date well--on the cheap.

Williams invoked the Bard of Avon himself to win Valley Life's "Cheap Date" contest. She planned, specially for us, a full day of romance that begins with a visit to the public library.

"Pick out your favorite play or poetry," Williams, of Sylmar, writes. "I suggest Romeo and Juliet, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning."

After a quick stop at the supermarket for bread, cheese and an inexpensive bottle of wine, Williams recommends that we whisk our sweetheart to the park for lunch and a little drama.

"Read the play (or poetry) to each other, each taking a part," she writes.

Be still, our beating hearts.

Afterward, our date heads south to the Queen Mary for a romantic stroll on the foredeck. It costs $5 per person and that can be used against a nightcap. We think that the big boat's a little tacky, but after Shakespeare al fresco --and a little wine--we're too moony to notice.

Finally, Williams suggests, return home for a rental movie.

Total cash value of our rendezvous? Somewhere between $7.50 and $22.50, plus gas.

For such ingenuity, Williams wins a pricey night out, including dinner at Gladstone's 4 Fish and two tickets to the Tim Allen concert at Universal Amphitheatre on Oct. 30.

O! I am Fortune's fool.

Of course, there were plenty of other good suggestions. Free dancing classes and television sitcom tapings headed the list. We have grouped other recommendations for your convenience:

The Call of the Wild

Lake Balboa and Warner Park seemed to be the most popular picnic spots, although we preferred several suggestions that we visit a local cemetery.

"It would be really surreal surrounding yourself with these grave sites while smooching underneath the moonlight," writes Robert B. Weir of Encino. "If only I could find some adventuresome girl to actualize that idea."

Daring Dates

Elaine M. Landix of Reseda says there's nothing better than crashing a wedding reception. Choose a big one, with lots of food and a good band.

"You must time your entrance just right," Landix writes. "After the pictures are taken, everyone is dancing, eating, kissing the bride . . . that's when you make your entrance."

If that sounds too risky, Jenny Lindquist suggests merely crashing the parking lot at the scenic Odyssey restaurant in Mission Hills. We can sit in our car and enjoy a hilltop view of the Valley.

"Get a bottle of champagne, Cool Whip and frozen strawberries," the none-too-bashful Newhall resident tells us. "And make out."

So That's How He Got the Job

James C. Bennett sent us a detailed plan that included cheap seats to the Hollywood Bowl ($3 each in sections V, W and X; $1 Tuesday and Thursday), a $4 bus ride and a $5 submarine sandwich from his favorite delicatessen.

Bennett is a professor of business and economics at Cal State Northridge.

'Free' Is Her Middle Name

If it's gratis , Barbara Joan Grubman has been there. Her thrice-a-decade date--we have to go on our birthday, and only when our birthday falls on a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday--begins with a free birthday breakfast at a Denny's restaurant. Then we visit the Hollywood Bowl where, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings at 9:30, we can watch the Philharmonic rehearse for free.

Next comes a free lunch at a different Denny's and a trip to the Unocal station at De Soto Avenue and Ventura Boulevard, which offers free birthday carwashes.

The afternoon is spent strolling through the mock rain forest in the lobby of the Sebastian International building in Woodland Hills, followed by a free dinner at--yes--a third Denny's.

Who Would Date a Guy Like This?

William Miranda of Van Nuys offers this unlikely scenario:

Call Domino's Pizza from a nearby telephone booth. Order a pizza and ask that it be delivered to your girlfriend's house. When the delivery man emerges from the pizzeria, run up and tell him that your car broke down. Tell him that the pizza he is carrying was ordered by your girlfriend, then ask for a ride. Give him bad directions so he arrives late and has to give you a discount.

If that questionable bit of treachery wasn't enough to turn our stomachs, David M. Beach of North Hollywood suggested ordering a pizza for a vacant apartment next door, then following the delivery boy back to the pizzeria and waiting out back until he throws our pizza into the dumpster. It will still be warm, Beach says.

Well, as long as it's still warm.

An Ode to Frugality

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