No chocolate. No roses. No diamonds or champagne. And no fancy restaurant. Nope, Mr. Groovy and I share our love all year long and don’t buy into the hype. So what’s the groovy way we celebrate Valentine’s Day? We go to Sonic!
Sonic is a fast food joint where you eat in your car. First you drive into a stall and park, and then speak your order into a microphone. Your food is served to you by carhops on roller skates. Think of having a burger in the parking lot of Arnold’s Drive-In on “Happy Days.”
Sonic is known for their famous slushes, burgers, and tots. We usually go for the mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and junior cheeseburgers. On Valentine’s Day we might spring for a sundae or an ice cream cone too.
Going to Sonic on Valentine’s Day is a holdover of sorts from a tradition we had in New York. Every Valentine’s Day on Long Island we went to White Castle. In case you don’t know, White Castle is the home of the little square hamburgers—or belly bombs, as we affectionately call them. White Castle describes its “The Original Slider” as a 2×2-inch 100% beef patty, served on a steamed bun with pickles and onions. Sliders are sold as singles or doubles, with or without cheese. Or if you’re really hungry you can purchase a Castle Pack, which contains 7, 8 or 9 belly bombs; a Sack, which contains 10; a Crave Case, which contains 30; or a Crave Crate, which contains 100.
“Our” White Castle was located right next to the Long Island Railroad station in a town called Lynbrook. And its clientele was even more dubious than its location. We had “our booth,” which was a safe distance from the bathroom’s pungent chemical odor, and close enough to the entrance so we could quickly escape if one of the patron’s went berserk.
The tradition of going to White Castle began one year when we got fed up trying to find a restaurant that didn’t jack up its prices for Valentine’s Day. We were really only in the mood for something simple and didn’t feel like getting ripped off. So we decided to be different, and the White Castle tradition was born.
We intended to continue the tradition in North Carolina, but after we moved here we realized there are no White Castles in the entire state! So we substituted Sonic for White Castle. The burgers at Sonic are actually pretty good. They don’t require Tums for dessert. We like the mozzarella sticks and onion rings even more (except when we get a soggy batch). Our Sonic is in a good neighborhood, the staff is pleasant, and the clientele is mostly normal. And we don’t have to worry about making a quick get-away.
After we’re done eating at Sonic, we take a drive on our favorite local highway—Route 601. Quaint farms and cottages are scattered on both sides of the road. We see chickens, donkeys, goats, and an occasional pig. Then it’s back home for a night of intense passion (i.e., reading and listening to a rollicking podcast). If we really want to go wild, we top off the evening with Sangria or some chocolate moonshine we picked up in Kentucky.
We’re lame, yes? It’s OK if you think so because we just love the simple life. And we enjoy sharing quirky little rituals which become meaningful to us, but that no one else “gets.” Sonic is one of those rituals.
When I began writing this post, a memory came to me about the first Valentine’s Day Mr. Groovy and I experienced as a couple. We had only been dating a little over a month and he had committed to a family trip to Florida. While he was away, Mr. Groovy phoned me on the evening of Valentine’s Day. He waited patiently to hear me describe the dozen beautiful roses he sent me. But they hadn’t arrived. If I remember correctly they were delivered the next day. Mr. Groovy was very disappointed but I wasn’t. I was just thrilled he had been thinking about me.
During his week in Florida, Mr. Groovy’s sister made fun of him because he often excused himself to go back to his room. He was spending time alone, writing a poem for me! He presented it to me when he returned, even though it was still a work-in-progress. That poem, and the fact that he used to carry my books for me when we attended graduate school, sealed the deal for marriage.
I wish I could recall the words of the poem. I haven’t seen it in years. Mr. Groovy might remember. Either way, he’s got some SPLAINING to do. Why didn’t he ever finish it? Would it be poetic justice (pun intended) to put “Write a new poem for Mrs. G” on his to-do list this week? Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Love can be celebrated with a few scrawny hamburgers and greasy onion rings. The important thing is we’re together and having fun.
How are you going to celebrate Valentine’s Day?