Even if you’ve carefully planned your V-Day date down to the minute, there is still a lot that can go wrong. I’ve heard many hilarious stories over the years, and I’m always eager to share my own account of a particularly disastrous Feb. 14.

Disclaimer: Before you read this, I would like you to know that (a) it happened several years ago, and (b) I’m still dating the same guy — proof that even if things go horribly wrong, there’s still hope.

For the first February in my life, I found myself counting down the days to Valentine’s Day — a holiday that I usually dreaded. Why? Because after years of being single on the most romantic day of the year, I actually had a date.

We had only been dating for a few months at that point. We were both poor college students, which means nights out usually consisted of beer and burgers, not steaks and fine wine. But I knew he had something special planned when he said, “I’ll pick you up at 5. Wear something nice.”

The night started out perfectly. He showed up at my doorstep with a bouquet of roses. I gasped and swung one hand to my chest in delight. It was just like a cheesy teen sit-com.

When we started driving up Lolo Pass, I got really curious about where he was taking me. After a little cajoling, I finally got it out of him: Lolo Steak House.

“They don’t take reservations,” he said. “That’s why I had to pick you up so early.”

When we pulled into the parking lot, it was immediately evident that we weren’t the only ones trying to beat the rush. The place was packed — so packed that we had to park outside of the lot. When I got out, my high heels sank into wet mud. As soon as he realized what had happened, my date scrambled to find some napkins in his car. While I cleaned my shoes, he ran inside to put our names on the list.

He returned with terrible news: there was a two-and-a-half-hour wait. We both decided it wasn’t worth it. Though my heart sank a little, I tried to remain optimistic. We’d find another restaurant. It could still be a good night.

But hello — it was Valentine’s Day. Every single restaurant was booked. We became increasingly discouraged as we drove from place to place, inquiring about cancelled reservations. Finally, we gave up and settled on the one place that didn’t look full: Tower Pizza. Starving by this point, we quickly got out of the car. Flustered by the night’s events, my date jumped out without turning the car off. Then he locked the door from the inside and slammed it shut.

Immediately realizing what he had just done, he froze, stunned and speechless. My jaw dropped. Before he had time to descend into panic, I led him inside, where we sat down and he called his roommate for backup. (And by backup, I mean a spare car key.)

We devoured an entire pizza — which, by the way, was delicious — and laughed about the night’s events. But the story doesn’t end there.

When the bill came, he pulled out a credit card and handed it to the waitress, who informed him that they didn’t accept cards. His smile was gone in an instant, and I was afraid he was going to lose it on the waitress right then and there. Instead, as if on cue, we both burst out laughing.

Luckily, I had cash on me, so we didn’t have to wash dishes for our meal, although that would have made this story even better.

The good news is, we got all of our bad luck out of the way in one shot. Every Valentine’s Day since then has gone off without a hitch.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.