A recent Facebook meme showed a photo of a Skyline Chili sign urging lovers to visit on Valentine’s Day for a Three-Way. And you should have seen the comments.

Not the ones making jokes about three-waysThe ones hinting that any man who even considered proposing dinner at the Cincinnati-area chain should not be allowed to perpetuate his genes.

So it goes in our society. People create ideals and expect everyone else to worship them.
Take 9/11. Long before anyone called that day by that name, it was special to the Man Writing a Romance. Special, as in it is my wedding anniversary. But in the Op/Ed section of the local paper every year since 2001, someone proposes making Sept. 11 a national day of mourning. Mail should not be delivered. Restaurants should not be open. TV should not air new episodes of reality shows.
I agree that 9/11 was a terrible day for the whole country. And Mary Jo and I still relive our nineteenth anniversary, which differed so greatly from ones before and since. But it’s still our day, and we’re not about to spend the whole thing in mourning.
Valentine’s Day also took on a different tone in our household with the arrival of our first-born. Feb. 14 thereafter retained some of its traditional meaning for us, but really, are you going to tell a four-year-old that she has no candles to blow out because Mommy and Daddy are bound by convention to indulge in an intimate dinner at a restaurant? And not a Skyline Chili-level eatery with reasonable prices. A fancy joint with cloth napkins and wine poured into receptacles made of glass.
But, why not Skyline Chili? Couldn’t a location in Covington, Kentucky, be the perfect romantic destination for a couple who, say, met there after a college basketball game? Or who lunched at the Vine Street location two times a week when they both worked in downtown Cincinnati during their first year of marriage? Or who have since added three hungry mouths to feed and know that a plateful of spaghetti crowned with cheddar is more to the liking of a three-year-old than the tournedos d’boeuf at Chez Moola-Moola?
What’s ideal to one person might not be so hot to another. For instance, what type of man refuses to buy roses for the love of his life? Perhaps the type whose wife is allergic to pollen. And what kind of bum does a guy have to be not to present his better half with lingerie? The kind, could it be, whose better half has noted that her lingerie drawer is already overflowing?
For the record, a “Three-Way” in Skylinese refers to the number of ingredients that come with your order. With a Four-Way you get onions or beans; onions and beans constitute a Five-Way.
A Three-Way is a stripped-down version, offering just spaghetti topped with “secret recipe” chili and a mound of cheddar cheese. Simple and understated, yet simultaneously delicious and steamy. And made available because some people gotta have their onions.
Best, I think, to leave these matters for couples to decide. A bowl of chili, followed up with a bag of M&Ms and a flute or two of Valpolicella while snuggled under a comforter on the couch and watching reruns of Scrubs, can be as romantic as a night on the town in Paris.
If you want it to be.
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