As far as Valentine’s Day surprises are concerned, this one’s for the books. Discover how Michael Russer created magic in the day of a deserving friend.
Valentine’s Day can be a little bit stressful, especially for us guys. Trying to figure out what we should get, how much should we spend, will it be too much / too little, and so on. A few years ago I took an entirely different approach—one that came to me just two days before V-Day. The irony is, I did this for a friend (not a girlfriend) who lamented how she always dreaded Valentine’s Day due to an unfortunate incident that happened to her several years prior. So I came up with an idea on the spur of the moment that I knew would forever change how she sees Valentine’s Day from that point on.
I share this with you here as an inspiration and challenge to change things up just a bit this Valentine’s Day…
Sometimes I get these ideas that just take on a life of their own and I’m never really sure where they will end up until I get there. This was definitely one of those times. It started out with me purchasing six individual long-stem red roses. The idea was that I would leave them in six different locations around town with each having a pink bow and a note tied to it that would then lead her to the next location. Sort of a Valentine’s Day treasure hunt. And to keep things interesting, each note was written as a kitschy poem that would only serve to intrigue her more.
Here’s a sample of one of them:
Roses are red, violets are blue
Who’s the world’s biggest Luv Muffin;
Why of course –it’s YOU!
Now head over to Crush Cakes
As something special is waiting
No time at all for anticipating…
Like I said, kitschy—but it did the job…
Launch & Diversion
Before I could hatch this plan and give it any hope of working, I had to consider two very important things: getting her started on her journey in a way that totally intrigued her and coming up with a plan that would never cause her to think it was me.
I knew she was going to breakfast that morning at a local outdoor café that we frequented; so, I dropped off the first rose and told the staff what I was up to, which they totally dug. I told them when my friend came in to order her breakfast to hand her the rose with the note and say: “A middle-aged woman with shoulder length auburn hair came in and asked us to give this to you.” Which was the same thing said to her at every subsequent location—something I knew would drive her crazy with curiosity.
The biggest weakness of my plan was if she failed to follow any one of the clues to proceed to the next one, it would all fall apart. The key was to keep her totally engaged and at the same time, not have her creeped out by this “mystery woman.” I even went so far as to give one of the roses that had a non-directive poem to her favorite local juice bar, in the event she might visit it that day. While this was not crucial in that it wasn’t required to send her to the next location, it would “seal the deal” in terms of her curiosity. As it happened, she did stop by and the juice bar gal I conspired with really sold it big time. She added her own flare of theater by breathlessly explaining a bit more about the eccentric yet nice “mystery woman” and how she felt my friend so deserved these little gifts.
By this time my friend called me very excitedly to share this incredible tale about a strange woman who is leaving roses with cryptic poems all over town. She then asked my advice if she should continue to follow them out of concern it may be some stalker just messing with her. I simply told her to go with her gut—knowing full well what her gut would say.
I didn’t want to make it too easy for her and at the same time I wanted her fully invested. Earlier that day I hiked up one of the local back-country trails she often used to chill out in nature and left another rose. This trail is about a mile long and has nearly a 1,000-foot elevation gain—so it’s not trivial. My bet paid off as she called me once again for advice as to whether she should go traipsing up this mountain as directed by her secret admirer. I reminded her it was a well-known and traveled trail and that she’s likely to be safe. She went for it, but I found out later that she hilariously hid in the bushes near the top for nearly 20 minutes to see if any unsavory character showed up.
The commanding views of the ocean and city at the top gave this particular leg of her Valentine’s Day adventure a sense of expansive quest. That it portended something big. And of course firing an even deeper curiosity about this elusive middle-aged woman who took the time and effort to make the climb just to deposit yet another clue. Now this particular clue was different from the rest in that it told her the next clue would come to her via txt. I had to guesstimate when she would be back from her jaunt up the trail to retrieve her rose. Turns out when I sent the txt (anonymously, of course) it hit her phone the moment she was about to get in her car to return home from her hike—which frankly, blew her mind.
This last clue said to meet her admirer at a local restaurant on the beach for a wonderful dinner and all would be explained. Once again my friend called me, almost in panic, asking if I thought it would be safe to meet this mystery person at the restaurant. I told her that if someone had nefarious intentions, a crowded restaurant (remember, this was Valentine’s Day) would be the last place to suggest to meet. She took the bait.
Knowing she would now show up, I executed the last phase of my plan. I went to a local costume shop and rented a shoulder-length auburn wig and a shawl (to hide my shoulders). Meanwhile, the restaurant was totally game with the whole charade and let me take a seat about 30 minutes early (just in case my friend decided to case it prior to showing up).
So here I was, full beard and all, sitting with my back to the door so there was no chance I would be recognized as she was shown the table. As I waited for her to show up, I had the most interesting conversations with the couples who sat next to and across from me. Despite my decidedly weird appearance, they all thought it was the coolest Valentine’s Day surprise they had ever heard—which only buoyed my confidence for the time I would have to reveal everything.
Eventually she arrived and I could see her reflection in the window I was facing, very tentatively try to check me out before she came around to formally meet her “admirer.” When she finally sat down and I removed my wig, her jaw dropped to the floor, she started hyper-ventilating and all the diners sitting near us started laughing and applauding.
Needless to say, we both had a great time as she shared her reaction to each new clue and the building anxiety / excitement she felt as her adventure progressed one rose at a time. Then she said something that made it all worthwhile. She said this was by far the most exciting and wonderful Valentine’s Day she had ever had and will never forget it.
Relationship is an Adventure
So here is my challenge to you. Forego the usual Valentine’s Day obligatory gifts. Find a way to tickle her (or his) fancy with the unexpected. When you put this kind of creative effort into your relationship, it keeps things interesting and it shows that you really, really care. Do this and I guarantee you will both have a Valentine’s Day that will be remembered and appreciated forever.
This article was originally published with the Good Men Project; republished with the author’s full (and kindest) permission.