Theme Parties for Grown-Ups #2: A Valentine’s Day, Lost in Translation

Experience all of the ennui with none of the actual romance.

A Valentine's Day, Lost in Translation

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I thought a party involving romance would be apropos this week. But instead of hearts and flowers and all that jazz, I wanted to push myself to find a theme that captures the way most of us really feel on Valentine’s Day.

I spent some time thinking about past experiences, and realized that for me, February 14th is often 24 hours of mixed signals. I remember one year in college, my then-boyfriend and I agreed to break up just a few days before the 14th. While both of us weren’t too keen on seeing one another, our dinner reservations had been booked for weeks and we’d already purchased non-returnable gifts. We decided to just embrace the weirdness and have dinner, and while I remember eating some lovely crab cakes (this was pre-vegetarianism), what stands out most is how strange I felt on this bizarrely preordained day of romance.

In chatting with several friends recently, I realized I’m not alone. My friends who are in relationships tend to question how big of a deal Valentine’s Day really is, and the people beginning them aren’t sure whether they should even acknowledge its existence. And then there are the mismatches, where one partner is off buying chocolate and flowers and love ephemera, while the other is home in her sweatpants watching Game of Thrones.

So this year, I think we should turn the pressure on its head, and make the decision to embrace the fact that for many of us, Valentine’s Day is simply weird as hell. And what better way to do so than by celebrating Lost in Translation, a film in which AMBIGUITY IS KING and it is actually COOL to wander around in a foggy cloud of near-constant romantic confusion. If a better metaphor for the Valentine’s haze exists, I haven’t heard of it. 

So without further ado, I give you the second installment in our theme parties for grown-ups series. Enjoy!

Theme: A Valentine’s Day, Lost in Translation


Try to ensure that all your guests arrive at the same hotel in various states of discontent. Maybe you can find a Groupon deal to facilitate this process. Also, it would be best if one of your attendees is only there to film a commercial.


Ladies, Scarlett Johansson’s pink wig is yours. Be sure to snap moody selfies of you wearing it in an elevator. For the gentlemen, I suggest you don Murray’s hotel robe. Accessorizing with weird sandals and a receding hairline is non-optional. Whether you wear anything underneath is up to you.


Valentine’s-infused Japanese takeout. I am thinking heart-shaped sushi, chopsticks that are arrows, and sake that doubles as a love potion. Remember, you are not aiming for a realistic depiction of Japan, but a bastardized American interpretation of a small subset of life and culture in Tokyo circa 2003, with a special Valentine’s twist.


This is a tricky one. You could go very literal and use a projector to play the film on a wall somewhere, but I think it’s more fun to be abstract. I want you to deconstruct the moodiness of Valentine’s Day, and to ask yourself what happens when you rest for too long in the ill-defined space between any two humans. Ponder this in the central aisles of Party City, and see what decor you emerge with.

And if all else fails, make like Bob and Charlotte and get yourselves to the hotel bar.

xox E

ps: Sofia Coppola’s screenplay for Lost in Translation is so cool. It is so subtle and minimal and chic, if a screenplay can even be chic.

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