How we fell in love. Those five words are the stuff of legend in any worthwhile relationship. He remembers it this way, she remembers it that way.
Over time, the story evolves with each retelling.
It's the beginning of the movie. Her hair was "this big" — cue the outstretched hands. His cologne was so heavy she had to roll down the car window.
Friends and relatives know how it opens. The chance meeting or the awkward set-up. There's the first-date scene and eventually the meet-the-parents scene. The soundtrack fades in and out.
As Valentine's Days come and go, some may brand it a Hallmark holiday or complain it's only one day out of the year. But the spirit is still all about love.
Here's a trip down memory lane with a few Sonoma County couples who still remember how they fell in love, long after Cupid drew back his bow.
Charlie and Lisa Palmer
These days, star chef Charlie Palmer and his wife, Lisa, oversee an empire of restaurants and hotels that started with Aureole in Manhattan before spawning Charlie Palmer Steakhouses around the country, along with Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg and the Burritt Room in San Francisco.
But back in 1990 in Manhattan, he was a young, hot chef turning heads with daring oil infusions and she was the general manager at Jean-Georges restaurant.
They hardly knew each other when he invited her to his annual Halloween party. She politely declined, saying she'd be too busy working that night. So he sent a car to pick her up.
Now more than two decades later (this March they'll celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary at the Pigs and Pinot soiree at Hotel Healdsburg), they have four sons and have relocated from New York to Healdsburg.
Here's the way Lisa remembers the early days:
First meeting: "He would come into Jean-Georges with his pastry chef or whoever. And he always came in with a beautiful girl, so I thought, oh well, he seems like a nice guy."
First date: "After Halloween, he invited me on a date and I kind of blew him off. Well, I had plans, so I told him yes, if gave me some notice. He picked me up in a Rolls Royce and I had no idea where we were going. We went to a (New York) Giants game. And for dinner, we went to Alison on Dominick. It was this kind of sexy downtown restaurant with dark lighting and blue velvet — it was perfect."
First Valentine's Day: "When you're in the restaurant business, you never go out on Valentine's Day or really any holidays. But I do remember in 1991, when we were kind of dating, after a busy Valentine's at work, we met up and went to this place called the Wicked Wolf and had a burger and a beer at like 1 a.m."
Plans for this Valentine's Day: "Every year, it's always a surprise. But I do know this much — there are always yellow roses."
Best advice for staying together: "A big thing is respect. Respect the person you marry. But keep it fun. We have four kids — it's a blast. I married a guy who would rather be with his family than anybody else, so that's kind of what's done it for us. We have that focus."