Bologna sandwiches: A Valentine’s Day treat

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Valentine's Day 1996 is a day that I will never forget. 

A few months earlier, I had started dating the girl of my dreams. Before I knew it, Valentine's Day was upon us. As a boyfriend, I was feeling tons of pressure to make the holiday as special as possible. 

Even though I knew in the back of my mind that Andrea was going to be the girl I married one day, my 17-year-old self still had a fear that first Valentine's Day could be the one event that could make or break our relationship. 

I started planning several weeks ahead of time. I wanted to be sure to get her the traditional items for Valentine's Day. I knew I was going to get flowers, candy and a card. Those things were easy to decide. I remember getting a great deal on the flowers by going to Delchamp's in Forestdale, where I paid $9.99 for a dozen red roses. On top of those items, I wanted to get her some other things to help her remember the day. I bought her a book entitled "Love Bugs," a stuffed frog which I named Freddy and a pair of Love Bird earrings from an Avon catalog. 

I know it sounds like I didn’t break the bank on this stuff, but remember I was a senior in high school at the time. If the gifts sounded extravagant, you won't believe our meal for the day. That was way before I started watching the Food Network to learn how to cook a few things. My family always made fun of me because I didn't even know how to boil eggs. I realized quickly that I was going to have to make sandwiches. The question was what type of sandwich to make. I decided on bologna. There was really no reason for bologna, except for the fact that I knew Andrea liked bologna biscuits from Jack's. I slapped pieces of bologna between white bread with some mayo, and that was our main entree. For dessert, I chose Little Debbie's chocolate heart snack cakes. I decided we would eat at Dora Park, because it was the most romantic place I could think of at the time. 

I woke up early that morning to make the food and left the sandwiches and cakes at my grandmother's house on Hull Road in Sumiton while I was at school. After school, I took Andrea home and told her I would be back in a bit for our Valentine's Day date. I changed into some nicer clothes, picked up the food and headed back to her house. We went to the park and had a great time eating bologna sandwiches. We sat and talked and laughed together for over an hour. 

We took a walk around Dora Pond, and I told her I had some other gifts for her and some entertainment for the night once we got back to her house. On the way back to her place, I told her I took the liberty of buying the film "Untamed Heart" for us to watch. In case you've never seen the movie, it is a 1993 romantic comedy starring Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei. It's one of the few chick flicks that I recommend. Once we got back to her house, I gave her the gifts and we watched the movie. As the night was winding down and we said our goodbyes, Andrea told me it had been one of the greatest days of her life and she was so thankful that we were together. 

This year marks 25 Valentine’s Days that we’ve spent together. Looking back, I thought the first one was kind of funny because it was so cheap and random, but Andrea has always looked back on the day as extremely special. What made that first Valentine's Day so special? Andrea says it is that I made her feel special. She said she had always wanted someone to give her flowers and treat her special on Valentine's Day. She said I made her feel like the only person on the planet for that day. I hope I still make her feel like that some days. We have a busy life with five active kiddos, but I still try to take time to make her feel special. I don't think bologna is on the menu for this year's holiday. I honestly can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen her eat a bologna sandwich. It was probably 25 years ago. I don’t think I could get away with that same menu and gifts now. I’m glad Black Rock and 5 Loaves are open this year.

James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.