Tales from the Heart

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:55

    If you've ever been in love n and we hope you all have n you've got a story about Valentine's Day. Given the nature of human endeavor, for every story that ends happily ever after, there's another that ends catastrophically. We want those stories. And we'll give a $100 dinner for two to the six best we receive from the readers of our eight newspapers in Orange County, N.Y. and Sussex and Passaic counties in New Jersey. We want not just the ones so touching they can't be read without having three boxes of tissues at hand. We also want those that seemed like disasters but, with the passage of a little time n just a decade or two n you can now laugh about. We understand what a thin line separates the two. Consider the man who has picked this day to propose and has mapped out his campaign more thoroughly than a Super Bowl game plan. There would be a limo to take the object of his desire to the most romantic restaurant in town. Then a cocktail, dinner n oysters, lots of oysters n some nice wine, languid glances, hands held on the table top, talk of desires for the future. Finally, the sommelier, on cue, arrives with the champagne. He pours, hands her a glass at the bottom of which is a four-carat diamond. Our hero lifts his glass n "To us." She meets the glass and the glance, prepares to drink. He tells her to look at what she's about to imbibe. Her eyes spy the sparkling gem, she melts into a puddle. They live happily ever after. But what if, when he proposes the toast, she doesn't pause but just tosses the champagne down n crystallized carbon and all? He screams. She asks what's wrong. He explains what happened. She gasps, coughs, sputters, begins to weep so copiously diners three tables over are calling for umbrellas. It works out, because this, too, must pass. It's just that recovering the gem the following day at the end of its journey through her digestive tract isn't quite as romantic as our love-besotted swain had envisioned. We know you have the stories, because all of us do. Maybe it was the vacuum cleaner your sweetie thought would be the perfect token of his love. Or maybe it was that perfect proposal. Whatever they are, send them to us. We'll choose the winners and print as many of the rest of your stories as we can in our editions of Feb. 10 and 11. The deadline for entries is Jan. 31. Entries should be no longer than 400 words. Employees of Straus Newspapers and their families may submit stories, but are not eligible for prizes. All stories become property of Straus Newspapers. The decision of the judges is final.