Here in our house we don’t do Valentine’s Day. Mostly because February holds my birthday, Nathan’s birthday, Nathan’s Mom’s birthday, and, when he was alive, my Dad’s birthday. A holiday in the middle of all of that is just too much. But Nathan and I did go out for dinner the other night—to Bluu in Danbury—and I was disappointed to see there wasn’t one salad out of their seven on the menu that was absolutely perfect. Narrowed down: The Famers Market: Wood fired oven roasted vegetables…zucchini (fail), yellow squash (fail), portabello mushrooms (not so much), red peppers (win!), and eggplant (win!) over baby greens (win!) with a roasted garlic mustard vinaigrette (win!). The Tuscan: Romaine lettuce tossed with crumbled bleu cheese (win!), toasted pine nuts (fail), diced tomatoes (fail), crispy shallots (win!), white beans (okay), artichoke hearts (win!), a garlic pastry (win!) and roasted shallot vinaigrette (win!).
I decided to go with the Tuscan. It seemed to have the fewest and easiest discards.
When the salad arrived, I commenced on picking out the tomatoes and the pine nuts. He watched me for a few seconds and then finished the conversation we’d been having by saying: “there’s nothing wrong with either of us. We’re just two f****d up people who love each other.”
This was true. I looked around at the other couples in the restaurant—apparently there were more than a few sharing some private time—and wondered how many of them realize this enough that they’ll still be together in a few years. In other words, I wondered how many of them were romantics, and how many of them were idealists.
A romantic desperately wants things they way they should be, but understands it might not work out that way, and romances—not loves but romances—when it doesn’t, because, after all, life is dark. An idealist, on the other hand, believes that everything can be totally perfect, and therefore train-wrecks when things don’t go they way they thought. Simply boiled down? Look at it this way: “I love you even though you have faults and sometimes it hurts” vs. “I don’t love you anymore because you don’t live up to my concept of perfect.”
So yes, all of us dream of the perfect significant other. Like we dream of perfect jobs, perfect lovers, perfect houses—and perfect salads. The key is to take the romantic approach: recognize the least offensive items and turn a blind eye to them.
After all, if we don’t, we may not order any salad at all.