City of romance for two more days


February 16, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

The successor to Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII in the great pantheon of calendar-tinkerers has emerged in Baltimore: Sheila Dixon. Per mayoral decree, yesterday, Feb. 15, was Valentine's Day in Charm City. And by the powers vested in City Hall's second floor, it will remain Valentine's Day through Sunday.

"We're going to keep the love alive a few extra days," declared Dixon, decked out in a bright red dress and surrounded by heart-shaped balloons, fancy pastries and enough flowers to make City Hall smell like a funeral parlor.

Dixon extended the holiday at the request of city restaurateurs, hoteliers, florists, chocolatiers and others who count on Cupid to keep them out of the red. Wednesday's snow kept lots of people home, where they were free to be lovey-dovey, just not in a way that makes cash registers ring.

"The mayor believes this is a way that she can help businesses make up for any financial loss," said Dixon spokesman Anthony McCarthy.

The extended holiday - similar to one then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer declared after a 1994 Valentine's ice storm - might help some sweethearts make up, too.

Anybody who let Wednesday come and go without offering the requisite tokens of affection should be grateful to Dixon for this: There's still time to care enough to send the very best.

Even better, the route to romantic redemption starts at the sale bin at CVS. Nothing says "I love you" like a marked-down Whitman's Sampler.

Chefs in white jackets, florists and others who lost business on the big day appeared at the news conference promising seafood specials and cut-rate roses. "Ten dollars a dozen - less than what I paid for them," one florist said.

What's good for dog-housed significant others is good for Baltimore. Said McCarthy: "The official position of the city of Baltimore is, we support romance."

One day alone is plenty

Famously unlucky-in-love Robin Givens - she divorced husband No. 1, Mike Tyson, on Valentine's Day 1989, and split from No. 2, tennis coach Svetozar Marinkovic, the day they were married - spent a miserable Valentine's Day in Baltimore.

"I had a horrible Valentine's Day, so I went to The Gallery and I watched men picking out gifts for other women," she said. "And I was wailing. I let out an `aaah' periodically and then gathered myself. I survived it."

Givens is starring in Men, Money & Gold Diggers, which plays at the Lyric Opera House through Sunday. She was dismayed to hear that Mayor Dixon was declaring an extended Valentine's holiday because of bad weather Wednesday. "Three more days of torture - thank you."

Health, mental hygiene and cooking tips

The following handy-dandy kitchen tip, printed in the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated magazine, comes from John Colmers of Baltimore:

If glass cups and glasses get stuck together, fill the top one with ice cubes and place the bottom one in a bowl of warm water. "The contrast in temperatures will cause the seal to loosen, so the cups can be gently pulled apart," it says.

Good to know.

Also good to know: Is that the same John Colmers just tapped by Gov. Martin O'Malley to lead the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene?

"Yes it's me," Colmers replied via e-mail. "Submitted and accepted well before my return to public service."

He must be a serious cook if he's getting his tips printed in the world's wonkiest cooking mag, right?

"Not too serious," he wrote. "I used to have time to bake bread."

Masters of tact

Ever since a Fire Department recruit died during a training exercise eight days ago, fire officials have declined to comment on the circumstances of her death. Although family members have said they want answers, department officials have released very few details because an investigation continues. They and fire union officials have complained that raising questions about the case before the funeral for the 29-year-old mother of two, which is today, is disrespectful. The department's finely tuned sense of propriety didn't stop it from issuing a press release this week: "Fire Department Opens Doors For Recruitment."

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