In the first grade Valentine’s Day was simple. Mom brought back the jumbo pack of 50 assorted valentines for my brother and me to share. With a class size of 35 to 40, half of which were girls, we were good to go. Grab a valentine, put a girl’s name on it and sign it. There were no envelopes so into the school satchel they went to be distributed. Easy schmeasy, all done!
Well, that lasted only a couple of years. By time, third grade came along, so did puppy love. There was that certain girl in class that had caught my eye. Now that special card had to be chosen from the pack before the signing. That card had to be protected as well, carefully placed in the middle of the pack as it went into the satchel. Heaven forbid that a scratch cross the face of the card of even worse, a corner be dog-eared. That would be a catastrophe. I was good to go…
… well, maybe for a year or two more. At that point I had become an experienced ladies man and I knew that a valentine selected from a pack of 50 wouldn’t cut it. Now, I had to ride my bike down to the five and dime and choose a special card, complete with a matching envelope for my “one true love.” Note: by now, I had gone through enough puppy loves to fill a litter. But it didn’t matter, this was the one and it had to be just right. However, that did not change the fact that I still was required to give a card to every girl in class. Valentine’s preparation had become a minor industry, complete with hours searching for the one special card. This was becoming a major production and I wasn’t even a teenager yet.
The card exchange was set up to occur in the classroom near the end of the day. So all day long, I would be sitting in my desk, going through all the possible scenarios in my head instead of paying attention to the fractions, or algebra or whatever the heck the teacher was trying to share with us. Would that special girl with sunlight in her hair and stars in her eyes like my card, or would that lothario over in the other row have a better card that would capture her heart. Was my card good enough? Will I be rewarded with a shy smile or will I be ignored. Wait, there is another scenario I haven’t thought of; what if get no card from my intended or even worse, what if I don’t get any cards at all? This is gonna be a disaster.
About the time I had worked myself into becoming a nervous wreck, the teacher said to put our books under our desks and to get out all our cards. Then we all got up and placed our offerings on the individual desks of the girls in our class. By then we had all been sitting in the same desk arranged in alphabetical order so we know exactly where everyone sat. A small digression: one of the girls in my eighth grade class can still recite everyone’s name in alphabetical order at our class reunions. She was the one who sorted our exams for distribution by the teacher. Fortunately, she cannot remember any of the grades on those exams.
But back to my story; once the distribution was complete, we all sat down and read the valentines that were left on our desks. Of course, I would madly dash through the hearts, flowers, bunny rabbits and all whatnot until I found the card from that special girl. Where the heck was it? Did she not give me one? Finally, there it was, at the bottom of the stack. OMG, it was in an envelope! This was it!
It then dawned on me that it was on the bottom of the stack because she delivered mine first. With trembling fingers, I carefully peeled back the seal of the envelope. There was no way I was gonna tear this one open. Incredibly, I don’t remember anything at all about that card. All I remember is looking over at her desk. She was sitting there with my card in her hands smiling at me and whispering “Happy Valentine’s Day” with a hint of that star shine in her eyes. Oh MY!