Frankly, we were worried at first. As the entries started to pour in for our "Most Romantic Date Along the Wasatch Front" contest, we waited in vain to be swept off our feet.
What we were looking for was whimsy. What we got were lots of well-meaning but predictable, made-for-TV evenings that began with a carriage ride and ended in a hot tub, with a stop in between at a candle-lit restaurant.What's happened to romance, we were wondering? Why did three people want to go to a Jazz game?
And then we got Frederick W. Graham's letter. "The sweet spring light of late afternoon illuminates the worn whiteness of the old Hotel Utah," it began. "As the workmen file out, the couple acknowledges the winks and knowing smiles of friends, comrades in spirit.
"Husband and wife make their way through the narrow opening in the chain-link fence temporarily left accessible to them as the construction engineers make their way home."
What Graham has in mind is to sneak with his wife into the historic Hotel Utah to enjoy "one last night." The hotel was forever closed to less romantic patrons on Aug. 31, 1987, and is currently being remade into an office building.
But Graham and his wife, according to the most-romantic-date scenario, would get an equally romantic workman to give them a ride on a crane to the hotel's top floor.
"As the sun nears the horizon line, husband and wife unpack knapsacks and bedrolls and set up camp. The couple lights candles as the sky begins to darken, and they slip a compact disc recording of chamber music into their portable player." Then they have a picnic. As the sun sets in the west, they embrace.
When morning comes, they get back on the crane "to descend once again to the ground, to the earth, to the mundane." As a final touch, notes Graham, "they keep the candles."
We think Graham deserves our prize, dinner for two at the Glitretind Restaurant at the Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley, and we're confident that he will make it a romantic evening, even though he won't have to sneak in or bring his own candles.
We learned a lot from our contest:
- Men are as romantic as women. Half our entries were from men, and definitely the most fanciful were, too.
Wayne Snow of North Salt Lake dreamed up a fantasy date in which he takes his girlfriend by yacht across the Great Salt Lake to Antelope Island, where a horse-drawn sleigh, a heated rock pool and a picnic (dropped in by helicopter) await them.
And Karl Quilter wants to kidnap his wife from work, take her to St. George by helicopter, lavish her with gifts, and treat her to "Phantom of the Opera." The cast will be flown in from San Francisco especially for her. (Quilter knows a lot about good dates. Last year he won the Deseret News "Worst Date in History" contest for his description of a really bad night he had in high school.)
- Half the entries were from married readers, who especially wanted that free dinner for two.
- Every entry but one included food as part of the most romantic date.
- Hot tubs and fireplaces are often part of the romance agenda, especially when men are doing the fantasizing.
- Limousine rides, long-stemmed roses, the Utah Symphony and Utah's canyons also sounded romantic to our readers.
- Choreographing a romantic date is probably a contradiction in terms. Romance involves surprises, not a carefully planned, elaborate or expensive evening on the town. And the most important element, of course, is the person you're with.
As Trent S. Rogers, who has recently returned from National Guard training in Texas, explained exuberantly in his entry: "To tell you the real truth, I don't think it would really matter to us what we did, because every time we are out together now it's like being at the Super Bowl, on the front row of a Jazz game held at Disneyland on Christmas Day!"