Are they or aren't they? Scene from Punch Drunk Love.

Before we begin, let me assure you that we do not think affairs of any kind are a good idea. They tend to end in a train wreck for all involved, but to each his own. No judgement here.

About 13 years ago, there was an article published in the The New York Post explaining the odd phenomenon of restaurants making more money on the 13th versus the 14th of February. More desserts were served, more Champagne sold, and bigger tips were given. Why would that be the case?

It appeared that this was happening because people having affairs were going out on the 13th, the married folks on the 14th. Shocking, but somebody has to be having all these affairs we read about. We needed to see if was actually true, and what it looked like.

The Affair Economy

This “affair economy” extends to the florists as well, who seem to take a surprising amount of cash orders for flowers delivered on the 13th. For the secretive, no one wants a telltale credit card charge for a dozen roses showing up on the family AmEx.

This may be horrifying for some, but for my wife and I, it has turned into an amusing 13-year tradition: Mistress Night, an occasion for a nice meal together, with a bit of extra investigative entertainment value.

The first part involves sourcing the venue. We look for somewhat swanky places that are a bit off the beaten path, or the tried-and-true upscale hotel restaurant. Experience has shown us that the cheating couples tend to dine on the early side. Perhaps this is to make more plausible the “staying late at the office” excuse. Or perhaps they have other intentions post dinner. Having never actually interviewed them, it’s hard to say.

First Stop: The NoMad

Last year, we staked out The NoMad restaurant in LA, which is in the wonderfully posh NoMad Hotel. If one is a Westside person, it is well located in the semi-off-the-beaten-track of downtown Los Angeles. We like to pick a table where we can each have a view of our fellow diners.

Then the investigation begins. See that couple staring into each other’s eyes, laughing a bit nervously in that new-love sort of way while both wearing wedding rings? Score! First affair spotted.

One may have assumed that these “affair couples” are exclusively the realm of older men/younger women, but that is not the case. Generally, the ages of the couples seem about the same: 30s to 50s. Surprisingly, there seems to be a lack of ageism happening in this arena.

Without fail, telling people about our Mistress Night tradition involves a satisfying amount of aghast shock followed by questions about the authenticity of our premise. This is then followed by questions about why on earth we would make a family tradition out of it. The answer is that we have taken a somewhat cheesy holiday and flipped it to a rather cheeky one.

A made up Holiday

The truth of the matter is that Valentine’s Day is one of those odd Hallmark-card sort of holidays that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and even Halloween make sense. But Valentine’s Day? Not so much. Unless, of course, one can find a fascinating, amateur sociological research project for entertainment.

Hope you all are dining on the 14th. But if you’re celebrating on the 13th, I’m not judging you.