Valentine’s Day 1990 and 2007
My tenth grade World History teacher was tough as nails. I was a good history student, good at remembering dates and Trivial Pursuit-esque information and into movies like Ben Hur so we had a good relationship. I was dating my first love in tenth grade, and he was this sweet, tender senior who treated me like gold. He even wore my gold little knot ring with a lil’ chip of a diamond in it on his gold chain (This was 1990 and gold was cool. Now, wearing your girlfriend’s tiny diamond ring on a herringbone chain around your neck was not so cool, but gold in general? Definitely cool). This boyfriend of mine was way smarter than I was, and every teacher at the school loved him, including my World History teacher. And if I was embarrassed for that sweet guy about his wearing my gold ring on his neck, imagine how I felt about general public displays of affection? Not so much my thing. So on Valentine’s Day, as first period wound to a close, the school secretary’s voice came over the loud speaker to call girls to the office to pick up bouquets of affection. I whispered to myself, “please don’t call my name, please don’t call my name, please don’t call my name” while she droned on. And then she came to my name and the entire classroom of sophomores swivelheaded around to look at my reaction. I winced and then blurted, “Now I have to carry them around all day.” I was instantly embarrassed by my brattiness, but the words hung out there. My teacher worked her way smoothly across the classroom until she was right beside me and nobody else could hear her. “You’ll learn to appreciate those things one day,” she whispered, eyeing me with her message. I bucked up, picked up my red roses, found my sweet fella in the hall and thanked him profusely. And I kick myself every time I think of that bratty little slip. I am a person who believes that life keeps presenting you with the lesson you need to learn until you learn it and so it should come as no surprise that I married a man who, for the most part, loves public displays of affection– most especially in the form of giant bouquets of flowers. When I worked as a college administrator, he used to send these unbelievable bouquets to the office for every Valentine’s Day, anniversary, and birthday. They were Miss America type bouquets and since I worked in the same town where we lived and in an office of almost all women, the mileage he got out of being the man that sent his wife Miss America flowers three times a year was quite signficiant. But now, I work in our house, alone all day. I don’t get flowers like I used to and, in general, there’s not much I need in terms of gifts. What good will flashy jewelry or a kicking outfit do me when I rarely have a reason to dress up? And how many hoodies can a girl have? Truth be told, the little bit of expendable income we have feels so much more productive when it is donated to a cause we believe in or invested in our niece’s and nephew’s college funds. So with Valentine’s Day approaching last year, I made my boyfriend (which is what I call my husband and should be a whole ‘nother blog) promise no gifts. Seriously. I bought him a sweet card, wrote him a funny note, and tucked it away so I could put it by his toothbrush while he was out walking the dog on Valentine’s morning. Morning came, I heard the door close, and I jumped out of bed to put his card in place. And that’s when I noticed a card for me on our dresser. Tore it open and found a funny card (total guy humor funny), a sweet little note, and five dollars. FIVE DOLLARS?
I practically bumrushed him when he opened the door. “Why did my card have five dollars in it?” My boyfriend smiled sheepishly and said, “I just couldn’t stand the idea of not getting you a present for Valentine’s Day so I looked in my pocket this morning and all I had was five dollars. So I gave them to you.” I started laughing hysterically. And then I said, “I love it, and I am so glad you didn’t have twenty dollars. This is so much better because it’s five dollars.” I ran out the door to the gym, jumped on an elliptical trainer and when the woman next to me listed all the good loot she got for Valentine’s Day, I proudly looked at her and said, “I got five dollars.” Maybe she pitied me, but I couldn’t help but smile as I huffed up and down, wishing my World History teacher could see me now.
** The photo? Me, circa February 1990, emceeing Mr. Spring Valley, the hysterical spoof of our Miss Spring Valley Pageant