Seriously–when did dating get so expensive? The dinner, the drinks, the entertainment…all of those things add up so quickly, especially when you live in a thriving hub of con artists and scarily persuasive street vendors who can talk you out of €20 faster than a fat kid at a cake buffet. Florence isn’t particularly known for having a plethora of things to do at night, other than going to a bar (which i totally dig, at least when I have the money to do so.) So when you want to do something a little out of the ordinary routine, you’ve got to get creative. Especially when usually, my Friday nights out look something like this:
Francesco and I have agreed that we need to stop spending so much money on our date nights, so the plan was for me to come up with a way for us to still have a “date night” without breaking the bank. FYI, he works like a bajillion hours a week so whenever he gets a day off, we pretty much just go buck wild and buy literally anything and everything we feel like until neither of us has anything left in their wallet but lint and crumpled up receipts of shame.
Anyway, in an effort to be more adultlike and money conscious, I told him that I was going to plan our next date using only €20. He was all for it, mostly because he hates planning anything, so it was up to me to use my imagination and stretch that €20 like a fat girl getting into a pair of skinny jeans.
In my opinion, any good date has 3 requirements–booze, food, & entertainment. With only €20, I had to be creative in deciding on the drinks for the evening, which called for a friendly visit to my neighborhood alimentari for some beers and snacks. These little mini-markets are a godsend for us poverty-stricken folk who can’t afford to drink at the bar all night. Originally, I would have gotten us a bottle of wine from our nearest enoteca, but F starts acting like a narcoleptic sorority girl in Mexico after 1 or 2 glasses of red, and I didn’t really feel like hauling 110 kilos of man-drunk around all night. If your significant other can handle their grape juice, then by all means, head to your local enoteca for a nice bottle of wine.
(Side note: If you’re looking for really good and cheap wine, skip the grocery store and head for any enoteca that sells vino sfuso–it usually costs between €2-3.50 per bottle. 2 of my favorites have to be the Fiaschetteria at Via dei Serragli 47R or Fattoria San Michele a Torri at Via dei Rustici 6R, which also sells deliciously fresh handmade pasta.)
After my visit to the alimentari, I still had about €10 in my pocket so I headed over the river towards Santa Croce and the nearest 99 cent store to see what I could find that might be fun for us to do on our date…and that’s when I decided to kick it old-school style and get some awesome watercolors, colored pencils & paper so that we could channel our inner Michelangelo. Obviously Francesco’s bachelor’s degree in art helped him win the battle of the Zola paintings, while mine ended up looking like a deranged goat with big buggy eyes.
This provided us with about 15 minutes of entertainment before both of us realized that if any of my roommates came home and saw us sitting in the living room drinking dollar beers and drawing pictures of our dog, they’d probably call the local mental-health hotline. Also, we got bored like, really fast. And by us, I mean Francesco sat still for about 10 minutes before he started getting all antsy-pantsy and annoying the shit out of me with his “Okay, so what are we gonna do next?” questions every 30 seconds.
Which is of course when I decided to go apeshit at Francesco for not appreciating what I had thought was a creative and interesting plan for us to do something different.
“WHAT THE FUCK,” I screamed at F, who looked bewildered by my sudden mood change. “WHY CAN’T YOU EVER APPRECIATE ANYTHING I DO FOR US TO TRY AND NOT BE SO GODDAMN JUDGEMENTAL ALL THE TIME?!”
“Gina, calm down,” Francesco said in his most soothing voice. “Everything’s fine. It’s just that, well…I don’t think we can sit here and paint all night long. We need to go out and do something where there are people, not just stay in the house.”
“Fine, whatever,” I snapped as I crossed my arms, unwilling to admit that I had not managed to think far enough ahead as to what we would do once the novelty of watercolor painting like 5 year olds had worn off. “If you’re so smart then YOU can think of something for us to do instead.”
Francesco looked at me for a minute, clearly wondering if he was about to be eaten alive should he choose the wrong words. “Well, I do have an idea…” he said hesitantly.
“And what is that?” I said, clearly still pissed at my own idea having blown up so fantastically in my face.
“We could go to a bar?” Francesco offered.
“Jesus, you are so predictable,” I sighed. “We go to bars all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Why can’t we ever do anything different?”
Francesco just looked at me, clearly not understanding my point. “But we are doing something different. We’re painting. And then going to the bar. That’s different.”
“No, it’s just doing something different before going out to do the EXACT SAME THING WE DO EVERY NIGHT. What is so different about that?” I asked angrily.
“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “But it’s my one day off this week, and as long as we get to spend it together, I don’t really mind what we do.”
Now I’d like to say that my heart got all gooey and melty hearing that all F really wanted to do was spend time with me, but obviously I am not a normal girl and also the most stubborn human being on the planet, so of course I sulked for another 10 minutes until I decided that he was right and that the odds of us having any more fun cooped up indoors were slim to none.
And that’s when I decided to say fuck it to our €20 budget and go out to a bar instead.
Now, I realize that maybe I’m not the best example of planning a date for €20 when I bailed on my own well-planned, carefully executed romantic evening for two. But seriously? You should be dating someone who doesn’t care whether or not you plan an elaborate evening out or stay indoors all day long and play video games. Which is pretty much what I discovered on this disastrous version of trying to plan a Pinterest date. It may look like a cute idea on the internet, but in real life the most important things, like spending time with each other, don’t always go according to plan. And in the end, everything worked out for the best, mostly because Francesco felt sorry for me and bought me drinks the rest of the night until I was too buzzed to do anything but dance like a loon along to the 80’s jukebox tunes playing from behind the bar and try to make out with him about a hundred times.