Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetie. I was going to take you out to a romantic candlelit dinner at a three-star Michelin-rated restaurant followed by a night of dancing and marathon lovemaking, but, given the economy this year, none of those things will be possible. Instead of a fancy dinner, all I can offer you is a modest meal I’ve prepared using only the items readily available to me in my apartment. But cheer up, honey. We can still make this special. Look on the bright side. We’ll still be dining by candlelight, as I could not afford utilities this month and am currently without electricity or hot water. I also sold my king-size bed for $100 on Craigslist.

I know you’re disappointed. I’m disappointed, too.

Please have a seat. I’m sorry the floor is so cold. Here’s a pillow you can sit on. Let me tell you a little bit about the dishes I’ve prepared. To whet your appetite, I thought we’d start with this plate of the finest cheeses that my local Shell station had to offer. This bright yellow cheese is genuine Kraft Cheez Whiz, generally available in Canada, Venezuela, and the freezer aisle of your nearest Walgreens. It’s typically served as a dip or a sauce or eaten like soup with a large metal spoon. Please enjoy. The second type of cheese is of the cottage variety. Many prefer to eat cottage cheese with salads or fruit, but the closest thing I could find was a box of Raisinets left over from a Halloween party.

Before I forget, thanks again for bringing the wine. Unfortunately, I pawned my set of crystal wine glasses last week, so we’ll have to use these 32-ounce souvenir Slurpee cups from 7-Eleven that were left in the backseat of my car.

On second thought, I think this cottage cheese is actually curdled milk. Let’s move on to the main course, then, shall we?

For our main course, I’ve cooked my famous shrimp scampi in a white-wine-and-garlic reduction sauce. However, due to a shortage of proper ingredients in my apartment, I’ve had to improvise on the recipe. In place of linguini, I’ve used ramen noodles, and I’ve substituted bacon bits for shrimp. I didn’t have any Chardonnay, so I deglazed everything in rubbing alcohol. It’s topped off with dried marijuana leaves and crushed generic ibuprofen as a garnish. The bacon might have a bit of a sweaty taste to it, but the rubbing alcohol should take the edge off it.

I only have one large bowl to eat out of, but that should add to the romance. Perhaps we will even choose two ends of the same ramen noodle unknowingly and while we’re slurping our way to the middle our pursed lips will meet in a moment of preservative-laden bliss like Lady and her Tramp.

I know this meal isn’t much, but I want you to know that every morsel of it was cooked with love (and leftover bacon grease, because I didn’t have any olive oil). I’m so sorry I couldn’t give you the special Valentine’s Day you deserve, the romantic getaway I had begun planning months ago, when I had a high-powered finance job and the will to live. But this is what love is about, dear. Love is about sticking with each other through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through wealth and agonizing, soul-crushing poverty. It’s about supporting someone and not judging him, even if he has contracted scurvy and his only source of income is making regular deposits at the local sperm bank.

I love you so much, darling. Happy Valentine’s Day. Bon appétit!