This Valentine’s Day, we asked SDTC readers to share their best dates with us, in the hopes of winning a romantic night for two at the Park Hyatt in Toronto. Despite my better intentions (PLAY IT COOL!), this led to two weeks of perpetual sighs over my morning coffee as my inbox was flooded with stories of meet-cutes, stand-by-me dudes, adventurous ladies who inspired spontaneous romance, and everything in between.
Needless to say, when it came time to pick a winner, it was something of a challenge, but Anna’ s story of her boyfriend’s selfless support, and her desire to surprise him because he so deserves it, melted my heart. We also couldn’t help but share some of the other great stories with you. Read below for the winning date, and prepare to swoon at these serious sweethearts.
The Winners: Anna & Nate!
“I’m writing to you because my boyfriend, Nate, deserves a romantic night away. 2011 was a crazy year for us. For whatever reason, the health gods were not on my side, and so we have three memorable, and unplanned hospital dates which make Nate so deserving. I know, I know. Canoodling around the sick and dying is no one’s first choice, but here it goes:
Early in the year, I had my wisdom teeth removed, which is not normally a life-changing event. But, lucky me, I had a terrible reaction to Percocet, and was a loony-bin mess for three days, of which I don’t remember much. What I do remember is my new boyfriend at the time raced around town, finding my favourite juice, mushing up my food, spoon feeding me, and tucking me into bed with episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (please…don’t tell anyone). In my drugged up state, I apparently told this new guy of mine that I was going to spend the rest of my life with him, and instead of bolting for the door, he only uses it as a punchline to jokes once in awhile.
A few months later, after getting ready for what was supposed to be a normal person’s date night, I was putting in my contacts when one just got…stuck. Like real stuck. Like stuck, so that my eyelid slammed shut and refused to open. As the muscles in my face seized and I sobbed that no, I wouldn’t be able to make our date, Nate, who was at work, sent his brother to pick me up, and met me at the hospital where he spent the night in emergency making me laugh and doing hilarious photoshoots of Anna, the one-eyed scourge. He didn’t even make fun of my eye patch that much for the next week. Only if he had a really good pirate joke.
Finally, in September, after a long flight, I developed a pulmonary embolism in my lung (a blood clot) and was rushed to emergency. Just my luck. Only this time, it wasn’t an “Anna, what have you done with yourself now?” It was a “Wow, I could have died” moment, that took a huge toll on both of us. My family is 3000km away and Nate spent weeks nursing me back to full health, including cooking for me, helping me walk, calming me down when my breathing was so laboured, keeping my family in the loop, and spending countless hours and days sitting in emergency. Today, I am on the road to recovery.
Long story short: Nate deserves to be pampered. We are both paying back student loans and planning our lives together (yes, he still wants to stick around!), so you would be giving him something that I can’t afford to do (but I try to show him all the time how thankful I am). Despite it all, 2011 was one of the best years of my life. I think it sometimes takes the horribly embarrassing, painful, scary moments to show us how fun life really is.
And on that sappy note, Please choose him!”
“I met my current boyfriend in the fall of last year of my undergrad. That winter he left for an exchange in Sweden and the distance made us realize just how much we loved each other. By reading week, I missed him so much I hopped on the first plane to Europe I could find. It just so happened that reading week coincided with Valentines Day that year and the flight I chose was headed to Paris.
It was the perfect Valentines Day. He met me at the airport and I jumped into his arms. We got a bottle of wine at a shop in the airport and took the Metro downtown. With a slight buzz, we arrived at the Eiffel Tower. The sun was setting as we headed up to the top. It was the most beautiful view we had ever seen. That night he splurged on a room at the Hilton and romance ensued.
Needless to say, we have been together ever since.”
“On any random night, my boyfriend will call me on his cell phone from right outside of my front door. He will ask me if I have any plans for a little later that night. Once he confirms my availability, he tells me he will be right over to take me to a little place he knows. My doorbell rings and there he is – flowers, wine and groceries in hand. He walks in and guides me to my kitchen. He pours us a glass of wine and always makes the same toast – “to us”. I watch him cook and we talk about our days. We don’t have elaborate dates but what’s better than a good meal and quality time with the man you love?”
“The best date I ever had was a couple years ago, late one February in downtown Toronto. We had just recently met. I received a text as I got off work asking what I was doing that night. I responded coyly, “I don’t know, what am I doing?”.
He brought me for dinner at Red Room where we flirted, talked about ourselves, and made up ridiculous life stories for our fellow diners. We did not want to end the night so he tried to bring me to Panorama, but it was closed for an event. Unsure of where to go, I suggested that we go to a little Japanese fusion place (that is unfortunately now closed) called Ame. It was by far my favourite restaurant/bar/lounge because of the impeccable service, atmosphere, and drinks. We sat at the bar, ordered some drinks, and he regaled me with stories about his recent trip to Japan. We then went on to discuss our most memorable dates, not knowing this would become one of them. We decided to leave but I was still having too much fun. It was unseasonably warm that evening, a little bit tipsy in my suggestion, I asked him to drop the top of his convertible and told him, ‘Let’s drive to the beaches!’
Half way there it started to snow, slowly, in big fluffy flakes. We arrived at the beaches and I ran out of the car, wading through a foot of untouched snow covering the sand. He chased after me and we stopped to catch our breaths, taking in our surroundings. It was silent, the lake was dark, and the snow fell all around us. We climbed onto the nearest lifeguard tower and talked about how beautiful it was. I started to shiver so he drew me in, holding me from behind as we looked onto the lake. We stayed just like that for a while, and then he pulled me in for our first kiss. It was magic and I didn’t want to spoil it all but I was getting cold. He suggested we head home and we walked back to the car reluctantly.
I fell asleep as he drove, awakening only when the car was parked under the streetlight in front of my building. We kissed goodbye and I got out of the car, almost floating back into my apartment. I woke up the next day feeling as if it had all been a dream, only it was real.”
“My boyfriend and I have been dating for close to four and a half years now, a typical date for us usually involves take-out and a bottle of cheap wine (which normally is my idea of a perfect night in). This being said, throughout the course of our relationship there have been special moments and events that have taken place which still leave me smiling…
The first year Mark and I started dating, he took me to New York City because it was somewhere I always wanted to go but never had the opportunity. After an eight-hour drive in a snow storm, we finally arrived at our hostel where we were staying for the weekend (we were students at the time, so yes, a low-budget trip).
On the second night of our trip we decided to take the subway and try to explore different parts of the city, with the goal of having a fancy dinner in Manhattan. It was on this evening that Mark and I got into our very first fight. He did his best navigating us from subway to bus (I’m directionally challenged) but in the end, we were terribly lost, far from a dinner in Manhattan. I’ll admit that I’m not the easiest person to travel with, I’m a nervous person and found myself incredibly anxious being lost in a city that was foreign to me. A bad combination of my nerves, Mark’s frustration with where the evening had gone, and both of our hunger left us pointing fingers at one another, arguing until we realized where we were… Brooklyn.
Absolutely starved at this point, we decided to put our differences aside and make the most of where we’d found ourselves. We walked into the first establishment that caught our eyes and ended up having a beautiful candle-light dinner in the dark corner of a vegan restaurant where we spent the night laughing at how stupid we had acted before. We listened to good music, drank good beer and enjoyed a wonderful meal talking about each other’s stories about the past and plans for the future. Reflecting on this date is so special to me because so many of the hopes and dreams we had in that moment have become a reality.
It might not be a scene from ‘The Bachelor’ but it was the best date I’ve ever had and I will cherish it always.”
“My date story begins later in life. At 40, I finally had the courage to end my marriage. It had been 8 long years of therapy and sadness. After 2 years alone, with my two young children, I was finally coming out of my shell and starting to feel normal, whatever that definition included, I still wasn’t sure.
It was summer and my friends had a party. It was the same old faces but I was feeling good and all night we laughed and joked like old friends do. I kept feeling someone look my way but I didn’t recognize the man attached to the dark friendly eyes. He smiled. He approached and introduced himself. We were the only single people there. A setup maybe?
I did everything wrong. Made every excuse why he wouldn’t want to call me…divorced, kids, he knew my ex, and finally that I was a lawyer -that usually worked. Bizarrely, he persisted.
And then he called. The date was a picnic. Not just any picnic, this guy was smart. As a former chef, he prepared amazing food: hummus, tomato salad, Thai chicken, coconut water, wine. It was beautiful and sunny. And here was the same smiling face doing all of this… for me.
At that moment, something crumbled, ever so slightly… the heart that had been carefully protected for so long started to shift. I smiled back at him. And that was the beginning….”
~ Kim M.