Valentine’s Day is coming up this Saturday. As the big day approaches I remember Valentine’s days in my youth. At first, they were a big annoyance, that is, up until the time I was 11 or 12 and began to look at the girls in my class from a different viewpoint, the hormone induced viewpoint.
In the years before hormones, there were about 45 kids in my elementary school classes, roughly half were girls. As Valentine’s Day approached, Mom would bring my brother and me a pack of 50 valentines which we were expected to split up and each of us sign and label the envelopes for delivery to each of the girls in our classes. It seemed to take forever to get them ready for hand delivery on the big day. When the day finally arrived, I spent the hours before the big exchange looking at all the girls and trying to remember if I had a card in my bag for them. It was all too much for a grade school kid – the pressure was terrific. You could not leave any girl out. Oh the shame if you did!
Finally, just before lunch and recess, the teacher would have us put our books under our desks and break out our bags of valentines. Mayhem ensued as everyone walked around passing out their carefully signed and labeled valentine. Finally it was all over and we each carried our horde of valentines back to our desks. A big sigh of relief before the nagging question hit me; “Did I get a valentine from each and every girl?” The sweat broke out as I cataloged every valentine I received to make sure that I did. It was then that I discovered that I had more than one from one or two of the girls. That had to be some sort of mistake! I quietly pulled my teacher to the side and asked her what she thought. She just smiled and said that it was no mistake and that someday I would understand. OK, Teach, whatever you say!
Needless to say in the next year or so, I did understand. I was beginning to wonder about the birds and the bees and that certain girl got stuck in my mind. Now, as Valentine’s Day approached and Mom brought around the bag of valentines, I needed some way to show this special girl that I cared. It is useful to note that it was way too early in my life to do more than stare at my beloved with google eyes across the classroom. But it became increasingly important for me to come out and openly express my feelings somehow. A special valentine was just the trick. Somehow two cards from the pack seemed inadequate. Mom saved the day when she suggested going down to the drug store and picking out my favorite from the selection there.
This will be great, I thought as I strolled confidently through the doors of the drug store. There they were in all their radiant glory, row upon row of valentines. Of course I had to inspect each and every one in the quest for “The One.” It took an hour to winnow them down to a handful. But then it dawned that the ones I had chosen were too intense and would probably scare the girl of my dreams off. Sigh, back to square one. I was now looking for the one that said “you are special” without banners and screaming fireworks. Another hour yielded another final five cards. Invoking the “Eenie, meanie, miney, Moe” method, I finally had my prized possession, the second valentine.
The big day came and it was time. I didn’t want to tip my hand so I handed her the regular valentine at the beginning of the exchange and placed my special valentine on her desk as she was walking around the room exchanging hers. I was careful to place it while she was looking elsewhere. Returning to my desk, I was astonished to find a card from her in addition to the one that she gave me during the melee of the card exchange. One glance at the opened card and I realized that I had seen it at the drug store when I was in search for the one I gave her. As I raised my eyes from the card in her direction, I could see that she was holding my card and looking at me too. A big smile played out simultaneously across both of our lips. I am not sure how things would have played out today, but those were very different times. I never even held her hand, not even once, except to dance at a class ball. But that is another story. Oh MY!