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/// LOVE ISSUE Cheap Date

So you smashed your piggy bank and found nothing but broken porcelain shards; opened your wallet and found nothing but leathery-smelling air; even dug deep in your pockets and found nothing but lint and a chewed lump of gum stuck between a folded receipt.

Romance in the red? Hardly impossible. It just requires more imagination.

Rosa Parks Circle at the corner of Monroe Ave. and Pearl St. in downtown Grand Rapids puts new meaning in the term cheapskate. For a single buck you get admission to the ice rink and for a flash of an ID you get free skate rental. Open 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day and noon to 9:30 p.m. on weekends.

Or take a trip to the poor man’s zoo, also known as the local animal shelter. Admission is free as long as you feign watery eyes and a willingness to adopt one of the many orphaned mammals. Better yet, actually adopt one if you can provide unlimited love and treats. Visit the Kent County Animal Shelter (740 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids), the Kalamazoo Animal Shelter (2500 Lake St., Kalamazoo), or the Harbor Humane Society (14345 Bagley St., West Olive).

Given your goose-egg budget, for dinner and drinks the operative words are “happy hour.” Good thing the happy hours last longer at Uccello’s (2630 E. Beltline SE, Grand Rapids; 4787 Lake Michigan Dr., Walker; and 8256 Broadmoor SE, Caledonia). From 3 to 6 p.m. enjoy drink specials and appetizers for $2.99. From 4 to 8 p.m. on Valentine’s Monday get half-off pasta. After 10 p.m. get half-off drafts, and after 11:30 p.m. personal pizzas are $2.99 and a dozen breadsticks are $1.99.

Finally, you could burn off the pasta carbs while bowling at Clique Lanes (533 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids). From 9 p.m. to close the Clique offers three games and shoe rentals for $6. Or head to Century Lanes (478 East 16th

St., Holland), which offers all you can eat pizza and all you can bowl bowling for $10 per person. Shoe rental not included. By Mitchell Terpstra Self-Date

Having been in 12 failed romantic relationships, I’ve learned a lot of things about love, mostly, that it’s OK to be single.

Sometimes the most fun person to hang out with is yourself. You don’t have to impress yourself, you don’t have to fight with yourself over which DVD to watch, and you don’t even have to spend that much money on yourself.

Nothing accompanies alone time better than Chinese food. It’s greasy, hearty, and delicious. If you’re in Grand Rapids, then I’d recommend calling either Szechuan Garden (616- 456-9878), or XO Asian Cuisine (616-235-6969). For those of you out in Kalamazoo, the good people at Hunan Gardens know what they’re doing (269-373-1188). Grab the chow and some Founders Dirty Bastard, or Bell’s Best Brown Ale.

Next, go to Schuler Books and Music and pick up a movie from the West Michigan-based film company Collective Studios. A big fan of balls-out action films? Try Veto Power. Prefer slightly debauched, post-apocalyptic future flicks? Try CS’s latest release, GR30K.

Healthy Date

There will be no boxes of chocolates and candy hearts this Valentine’s Day for you and your date. Instead, romance will be con- jured by a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and endorphins. Just because health nuts don’t indulge in the traditional Valentine’s Day sweets, doesn’t mean they can’t have their own V-Day treats.

Start off the day with an EcoTrek Fitness (various West Michigan locations) work- out. Rain, sun, snow, or falling birds, these 75-minute outdoor workout sessions battle the elements in the name of healthy heart rates. You and your Valentine can work out together for $11 on Valentine’s Day, and there will be partner-type workouts in honor of the day.

“It’s not restricted. Bring your best friend, sister, or brother. ‘Be my Valentine’ doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be cohabitat- ing,” said Cari Draft, founder of Ecotrek, and leader on the lakeshore. “Last year we did it and it went really well.”

Sign up at

After your workout, stop by Harvest Health Foods (4150 32nd

Ave., Hudsonville; 1944

Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids; 6807 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids) to load up on protein powder to dump into your homemade recov- ery smoothie.

Conclude your day with a nutritious meal at Salt of the Earth (114 East Main Street, Fennville). Order a Tasting of the Fall ($16) with local root vegetables, butternut, local apple, ricotta, and quinoa, or a salmon and spinach salad ($12.75) with feta, local egg and olive. By Lindsay Patton-Carson

To get your mind off of happily coupled people celebrating, you need to listen to some music to make you feel less alone. If you’re feeling moderately depressed, grab the heartbroken but nonetheless hopeful, self-titled debut from Chain of Lakes (whose real name is Kyle Rasche, but Chain of Lakes is certainly a more melancholy moniker). So miserable that you feel like doing drugs but are too depressed to call your dealer? Grab a hold of Benjamin Riley’s Blood on the Tracks. Need some dark, ambient folk music? Check out Kalamazoo chanteuse Fiona Dickinson. So off the lights, lay out on the floor (or on that Ninendo Power Pad you store in your closet) and allow the sweet vibes of music to float into your ears and imagination. It’s the perfect end to a perfect evening.

And there you have it. An evening full of fun, food, tunes, and brew. I bet all those “losers” out on awkward, expensive dates would trade their evening for yours in a heartbeat. By Justin Stover

Your best friend is jealous of your dates anyway.



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