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/// LOVE ISSUE First Date

Everything is magnified on a first date. Restaurant choices, the amount of hair product used and conversation starters, can be the end of things. The hard truth? Everything is out of your control and left to fate. Channel your inner real estate agent and think “location, location, location” so you can take charge over scenery, atmosphere and number of exit doors.

Go for a little mystery—somewhere that specializes in love and relationships. The Kalamazoo Psychic Center (6021 S. Westnedge Ave., Portage) is a great icebreaker that lays bare the elephant in the room. Find out about future relationships, people currently in your life and even the possibility of discovering actual names and dates that are important in your romantic timeline. From tarot card readings to soul mate discussions, the evening is sure to have an air of honesty about what you believe and what you’re looking for.

Play hard to get while your pulse races at The Lost City’s (12330 James St., Holland) indoor entertainment center. The two-floor Laser Storm laser tag arena is the perfect spot for first date fun amid fog, music and lighting effects. Tag your date with blasts of the red phaser beams (is anyone thinking of Cupid’s arrows here?) or look into some mini bowling and video games for a little more friendly competition.

A sugar rush isn’t a bad way to start a relationship. Sweet moments abound at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Celebration Village (2121 Celebration Dr. NE, Suite 350, Grand Rapids). Peruse the store’s many chocolate confections and 20 varieties of caramel apples. Once you gather your loot, grab a show time at the movie theatre a few steps away as all treats can be brought right into the theatre. No smuggling necessary—which gives the impression you have nothing to hide! By Missy Black


Forget about a sultry getaway to a ritzy hotel with a vibrating, heart-shaped bed and an innuendo laden in-room Jacuzzi. While Valentine’s Day is an avowed commercial holiday, money can’t buy love, you show off! This year, keep it local with a love Staycation. Flaunt your heavy winking and throbbing hearts, and ignite the envy of friends.

Head over to Argos Book Shop (1405 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids) and peruse the cozily cramped shelves for titillating reading. Select a Henry Miller (often banned) or Anaïs Nin tome to read aloud to each other in the night. If sexy sentences are too much for you, grab a copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask by Davie Reuben, MD. This highly entertaining cult classic will get you in the mood while making you laugh.

Dabble in aphrodisiac eats at Angel’s Thai Café (136 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids). Foods like ginger, garlic and hot spices, along with beverages like wine are thought to rev up the libido; try the Pad Khing or the Peanut Curry Noodle. Aphrodisiac or not, these sumptuous dishes will leave you feeling sated but not stuffed, keeping your waistline as sexy as your love-thoughts.

Bring dessert home from Martha’s Vineyard (200 Union Avenue NE, Grand Rapids). This oft-referenced specialty shop has the best cheesecake around. Piled high with chocolate balls, or sweet wafer-like sticks, choose from individuals slices in flavors like blood orange or Mayan Chocolate (spiced with cayenne). Select two different kinds and share them both. By Audria Larsen

The Elope Date

Must be 18 Years or Older (16 or 17 with legal guardian)

First, head straight to Little Africa (956 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids) before the courthouse. Eat be- fore you do the deed and carbo-load while keeping your elopement low-key. This way you’ll both be goofy and seeping with your shared secret. Think of it as foreplay for later. Since you’ve probably never been here, I bet they don’t know you and thus won’t care you’re getting married unless you blab it. $30 for two

After a sumptuous meal, it’s time to head over to the county clerk’s office and arrange your wedding post haste. Apply together on the lovely tax dollar

tile floor; poke fun at each others’ birth certificate, driver’s license, state ID, and/or passport (all docu- ments must be in English). Be sure one of you is a resident of the county and have a proof of address (if an out-of-towner). Impatient newlyweds may pick up their new license no sooner than three days after applying. Random bum witnesses must be 18 or older. $20 for two (resident), $30 for two (non-resident)

Check into a motel. The cheapest one is around $48 after taxes. Just don’t think about the stains. Instead, blow that non-reception dough at Henderson Castle (100 Monroe St., Kalamazoo). You know the one—it has the best view of Kalamazoo without having to be locked up in the insane asylum tower. $150 to $275 a night for two By Matt Simpson Siegel


Henderson Castle, Kalamazoo


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