It’s not that I haven’t had lovely Valentine’s Day experiences since I’ve been married. It isn’t that we haven’t had perfectly good Valentine’s Day times over the years. Or that I haven’t had many boyfriends/suitors (ha) who took me out on the big VD or did something special to mark the day in the decades since I got out of junior high. It’s just that . . . well, don’t you have some special memories of great Valentine’s Days from your childhood/adolescence?
Of course there’s nothing to compare with the elementary school class parties we used to have. We would spend art class making “mailboxes” out of shoe boxes decorated with cutouts, stickers, construction paper, and so forth. Then we’d make or buy Valentines for everyone in the class. I MEAN IT–everyone. Even the “goat” who generally took the brunt of all the teasing and aggression. Even Charlie Brown (especially the Charlie Browns, with me.) The big day would arrive, and we would have a “mailman” period where we’d bring our Valentines up to the teacher’s desk where she and two or three helpers would sort them and then come drop them into the various mailboxes on our desks. We were busy eating the cupcakes and/or candy “conversation” hearts the teachers and homeroom mothers had brought, and playing the various games the teacher would always arrange. That was really magical!
But then your First Real Boyfriend came along. You know, someone you never did anything but hold hands with and perhaps a chaste little peck now and then. The person who first asked you to a school dance or out to a movie (usually chaperoned by a parent or older sibling, because this would be in junior high, when you were 12/13/14 and couldn’t drive yet.)
When I was in seventh grade, I was matched up with Tim as my lab partner in Mrs. Wetsel’s physical science class. (This is the teacher who insisted I must be tested for eyeglasses–and she was right. My mother never HAS gotten over it. *Grin*) We did all the experiments right, and were cordially hated by the rest of the students for it. He was planning to be Big Mr. Science in those days. I remember one of the questions he had for her (he was the teacher’s pet) was, “What state of matter is fire?” Well, a fire is actually a redox reaction (oxidation-reduction) and not a state of matter, as it turns out, but that was an advanced question for that age. He was also somewhat of a firebug, as in “fascinated by the candle flame and by matches to a kind of scary extent,” and almost set my mother’s breakfast room curtains on fire once, but let’s not get too deeply into that. For this is a sweet little story of Valentine’s Day.
Anyway. Our school student council had this special deal with somebody’s dad who was a florist, and they fixed it so that on Valentine’s Day you could send a carnation to any student or teacher for around a dollar. The carnations were delivered all day long by student council appointees, so during a class the “floral delivery” would walk in and bring carnations to those so honored. Of course I was totally clueless and figured, hey, that was for the cheerleaders.
Of course I got three carnations that year. One was from my best friend Linda. Another was from my other best friend, Ann. And the third . . . was from Tim.
I really wished I had thought to send out some carnations.
You wore these carnations on your lapel or whatever you call that front-shoulder area. The “delivery person” pinned it right on you with a long pearl-handled stickpin. There was no choice about it. So everyone knew who was Loved and Popular. Wow!
When I got back to my locker after lunch, there was a lumpy envelope stuck to it with tape. Inside was an insult card Valentine (you didn’t expect me to say it was a mushy one, did you? It was a Peanuts thing with some snappy smart-ass remark from Lucy and Snoopy) and an orange plastic bead necklace. Guess who that was from? He knew my favorite color is orange. I look like a*s in orange, but I love orange.
The rest of the day all the girls rode my case about “having a boyfriend.” But we really weren’t Going Steady or anything. We were just, you know, the Victorian-age type of Special Friends.
He also took me to my first-ever school dance. We got bored and left early. I nearly froze to death because I wouldn’t let him give me his jacket to cover up my fancy pretty dress (I thought it might make me look fat) while we walked the 12 blocks to his house in the night “breeze.” I came down with a terrible case of whatever-it-was (we went to the doctor and got some kind of awful yellow serum to swallow every four hours, and I had a cough for a week and missed several days of school). But anyway, it was very Romantic, in the Chopin/George Sand sense. Sort of.
So anyway. That is my most memorable Valentine’s Day.
Maybe someday I’ll get a book published by Random House and be on Larry King’s TV show on Valentine’s Day, and that will supersede this one. But if not . . . then that’s probably about the apex of excitement right there.
Well, *I* treasure the memory. So there.