Here are your best — and worst — Valentine's Day stories
We asked Austinites to recall memories that led to love stories or those that offered cautionary tales. Whether you're waiting for discounted candy or trying to figure out how to make a grand gesture, enjoy these Valentine's stories:
These submissions have been edited lightly.
It was Valentine’s Day 2021 and I had been freshly dumped. A couple friends and I hopped on a Zoom call to drink wine and lament about our singleness. I may have overdone it and drank a bottle by myself and texted every single one of my exes and really anyone significant to me from the last couple of years that I hadn’t heard from.
When I woke up I realized I had not plugged my phone in, so it was dead. We had no power for five days because of the winter storm. I effectively dropped a major bomb on my entire life and was unable and to do any damage control for almost a week.
My friends consider it to be a major power move, while I’m still horrified anytime I think about it.
— Ashlyn Branscum
I worked in a coffee shop in Barton Creek mall (Gloria Jeans Coffee Beans). Our Fed Ex courier for two years delivered our paychecks. On Valentine’s Day, he delivered our checks along with flowers. He asked me if I would be his Valentine. This year will be our 27th Valentine's Day together.
— Suzanne Lunsford
Discount candy aisle
My husband and I are both Austin natives, both born at Seton on 38th Street and both graduates of Westwood High School in North Austin. We knew of each other in school, but didn’t start talking until after we’d graduated. We were coming up on Valentine’s Day and we’d been spending a lot more time together.
It seemed like things were getting pretty serious but it wasn’t until Feb. 19 that we became official — so five days late. Now we really enjoy celebrating on the 19th because we get the discounted candy and most of the crowds have died down. This will be our 11th Valentine’s Day together.
— Mitya Quick
My husband and I are high school sweethearts, I'm one year older. We were both 19 when we got married, before I turned 20 the next month.
During high school, I was in the pep squad and we had our Sadie Hawkins prom coming up. His name is David, we had one class together and were not dating. I invited him because I knew he liked me.
I liked another boy, but he was a real good friend, Gary. We could talk about anything and I didn't want to ruin that. Anyway, David said yes and was happy about it. A girlfriend knew I liked Gary and without me knowing, she asked if he'd go with me and he said yes. When she told me I broke the news to David and said, "never mind." Oh boy, he toilet-papered my house after a football game.
I went to prom with Gary, we had a good time. Afterward we tried to make out, but I felt like I was kissing my brother. Didn't feel right and it didn't feel right to him, either. We realized we're better just as good friends.
I felt bad about David, so when Valentine's Day came and you could buy a flower to be delivered to whoever at school, I sent him a flower with an apology. That evening he took me out to Pizza Hut, and we made up and started dating.
That was my junior year. We've been together ever since. We went to junior and senior proms together. Married 41 yrs now. Will be 42 in July.
— Mary Ann Castro
Hot stove walking
My divorce was final on Valentine's Day 1999. I went to the grocery store after work and the clerk said something really rude to me for no reason. I kind of lost it and said, "You do not want to mess with me today. It should've been obvious because it was Valentine's Day and I was purchasing a personal size pizza and a pint of ice cream. Also my divorce is final today!"
The older man in line behind me burst out laughing. The clerk's eyes got very big and she stopped making eye contact like I was a loose mountain lion in the checkout line. I'm always unfailingly polite in public, but I just could not keep it together that day. As I was walking away I heard that next person in line say, "How'd you like touching that hot stove?"
— Suzanne MacGillivray
A heart-shaped lesson
Our first Valentine's Day together I went all out on making a grand dinner with lobster and all his favorite things. He gave me a box of candy conversation hearts. He explained how he loves them. Tears started rolling down my eyes. Johnny gave me something he loved without considering that I might not. Not a deal breaker, it just made me sad. I hated that seeing me sad made him sad, too.
A year later, he was in Miami and I was in Seattle. I get a Valentine's Day card in the mail with a set of pictures of a four-poster bed. John had made it for me from scratch, spending hours on his balcony planing the posts and other parts to meet his standards — a great present that would not have happened without candy hearts. After that the kitties and the pup showered him with his beloved candy hearts… made for a sweet memory.
— Linda Sargent
Waffle House heartbreak
I was 16 with purple hair wearing my Sonic Youth T-shirt when I first laid eyes on him. He would later introduce me to Bukowski, Tom Waits, Tarantino and Waffle House. Known for his velvet smoking jackets, pocket watches and encyclopedic knowledge of mafia films, he was the coolest guy in school. Or so I thought ...
He was my first boyfriend and I had high expectations. Valentine’s Day rolled around and of course I went all in. I made him a mixtape of love songs and a painting made from melted candle wax (it was the '90s). He handed me a little stuffed bear holding a pink heart with the word "Valentine" scrawled across the front and a long plastic red rose with the $1.99 price tag still attached. I later discovered the bear and rose were regifts. His mom was a teacher and one of her students had given it to her. Now, that's how to crush a girl's heart.
Today, each time I pass a Waffle House, I think of him and wonder if he's sitting there in his smokers’ jacket, talking movies with anyone willing to listen. And I vow to never give anyone a regifted Valentine's Day gift.
— Andrea Malloy
Psychic future son-in-law
We were in the same friend group, but had never even flirted. I was at Lavaca Street bar in 1994, and she was in there with her mom. I walked by, and she introduced me to her mother. Without thinking I said, “Hello, I’m Mike, your future son-in-law.” No idea why I said that. Her mom just laughed and said, “Yeah, right.”
We started dating probably a year later and have been together ever since.
— Mike Lay