Wednesday, February 14, 2007


It's Valentine's Day once again.


As I've been going about the past few days, trying to ignore the barrage of signs & commercials telling me that I just have to go spend a bundle to show my wife how much I love her (which is something that I should do, & I do, all year long) with expensive jewelry & flowers & whatnot, I think back to my school days. Ah yes, spending the night before cranking out valentines to everyone in the class until your hand cramped up. The gross glue on the teeny little envelopes. The myriad paper cuts. Nasty little chalk-like candies.

Yes, I am a Valentine's Grinch. And darn proud of it.

I remember, early on, when everyone exchanged cards with everyone else. Then, at around 5th grade or so, people started getting a little more selective. Some still gave cards to everyone in the class, but the amount of kids who were a bit more picky with their valentine dispersal caused a noticeable decline in the card count. You could always count on getting one from the one kid that smelled like old milk & whose signature looked like he signed his cards with his feet. And your best friend, which was a little weird, looking back now. Of course, if your best friend happened to be the smelly kid, well, you were out one card.

Now that I think about it, if your best friend happened to be the smelly kid, that was probably the only card you'd be getting. *sigh*

Anyway, I can remember the last year that most of the class exchanged cards, which was 6th grade. This was the point in my young life when I started to become a wee bit girl-crazy. Oh, I'd loved the ladies well before then; now, though, it was more acceptable around the guys to notice a cute girl, albeit still in hushed tones in the far reaches of the playground.

Before, you'd look at the cards &, if they had a puzzle or maze on them, run through them & move on to the big haul - the ones with suckers & candy taped to them. Now, you scrutinized the cards a bit more, looking for subtle hints imbedded in the message on the front of the valentine. You took every "Bee Mine" featuring a bee sitting on a heart or "You drive me wild, Valentine" with a picture of two teddy bears driving an old, flower covered Model T with heart shaped exhaust coming out of the tailpipe as a potential secret message, indicating that the girl had finally, finally come to her senses & seen what your mother had told you all along: that you were the most handsome boy in the whole school & worthy of the girl's undying love, devotion & attention.

More often than not, though, we boys ended up reading too far into the message, not unlike Ralph Wiggum with the pity card that Lisa Simpson gave to him. Apparently, some of the girls knew how stupid we were & decided to help us out. One of these girls - Joan - took great pains to make sure I understood her true feelings, in no uncertain terms.

Joan had given me a valentine with a cartoon goldfish in a bowl, talking on the phone. The card said "Drop me a line, Valentine." On the other side, underneath the obligatory "To:" & "From:" was a note -

"I don't really mean what the front of the card says."

And thus began my hatred of Valentine's Day.