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Real Romance Forget The Flowers, It’s The Little Stuff That Counts

Tue., Feb. 13, 1996, midnight

With Valentine’s Day looming, this might be a good time to remember that there’s more to romance than hearts and flowers.

Twelve years ago, Spokane’s John Barron proved that.

He and a woman he was dating named Debbie were at a dress-up dinner at the University of Idaho. And only after being seated did they realize that each of them would soon have to stand and speak for a few moments at the outset of the event.

But there was one little problem. Both were chewing gum. And there was nowhere to dispose of it.

Now that might not sound like a big deal. But public speaking is stressful enough without having to worry about looking like a rube.

So John did the only thing he could think of - he swallowed his.

Debbie couldn’t bring herself to do the same. So John reached his hand under the table and subtly signaled her to take her gum out and put it in his hand.

She did. And then he slyly stuck that piece of gum in his mouth and swallowed it, too.

“I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” he said. “But she’s never forgotten it.”

They wound up getting married.

In real life, truly romantic moments don’t always come wrapped with ribbons and bows.

Diane Brommer, who lives on a ranch outside Davenport with her husband, Gerald, remembers a moment from their courtship back in the ‘60s.

“He gave me a bouquet of plastic daffodils,” she said. “They weren’t silk or anything. But they were very lifelike. And I thought they were real. So I stuck my nose right down in them. Then I realized. Boy, did we laugh about that.”

Then, of course, there’s the time-honored link between true love and pickup trucks.

Last year, Norma Young’s husband, Frank, had to make a business trip to Hawaii. He proposed that she come along, though her plane ticket would have had to come out of their own pockets.

She declined. She had something else she wanted to do with that money. And it was a surprise.

While Frank was gone, Norma had his beloved 1982 Ford truck repainted and customized.

So you see, romantic moments aren’t restricted to Valentine’s Day. But sometimes that’s when they happen. Five years ago, Suzi Kamps of Post Falls received a special present from her husband on Feb. 14 - a Vietnamese potbellied pig. (She’s still got it and it’s doing fine.)

And back when Phyllis Sloan’s husband, John, was the manager of a propane company, the Libby, Mont., woman used to sneak into his office while he was out and decorate it from top to bottom in a Valentine’s theme.

But it would be tough to top the simple plan Colville’s Howard Mumau has for keeping romance alive in his 45-year marriage. Maybe his wife, Joe Ann, should tell it:

“He says ‘I love you’ every day. It’s not like him to be real expressive. But he makes a point of saying that. And I think it’s outstanding.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Staff illustration by Molly Quinn

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