Feb. 14, 2012 — I must admit I don’t know what they do in elementary school on Valentine’s Day anymore.
I remember I always especially enjoyed Valentine’s Day back in my elementary school days (the 1950s, yikes) simply because of the sweet treats we’d enjoy after lunch that day.
And to tell you the truth, I don’t suspect things have changed all that much over the decades.
Oh, boy! Cake and ice cream, candy bars, suckers, cokes made with real cane sugar (well, maybe some things have changed), ice cream floats — the individual items in question always varied from year to year, but that penultimate sugar buzz of the month (second only to Halloween’s sugar buzz of the year, don’t you know) did not. Yeah, Valentine’s Day always meant feeling good and sugar high.
Ah, those were the days when I could thrash around and twitch in my desk, and Mr. Green, my smiling, enabling teacher, would simply ask, “So, would you like another cookie, Sam?”
“Arggggmygosh, ie esty mantly forebeshowben!” I’d respond affirmatively as big drops of drool splattered across my desktop, and I lurched forward, squeezing both my hands in a frantic, gimme-gimme motion. I just couldn’t help myself.
Then we passed out cardboard cutout valentines to everyone in the classroom. That always struck me as a little bit weird. Why did I have to give valentines to absolutely everyone?
The night before I’d have to sit on my bed, punch those silly things out, decide which would go to whom and then address and lick the smelly glue on all those envelopes.
To tell the truth, I always enjoyed giving a valentine to Sharon, that lovely girl who sat over by the window. For years she was at the center of my completely innocent 10-year-old obsession. She was smart, pretty and spoke well, and that was good enough for me. I always hoped she would pay some attention to me.
I never understood why I had to give a Valentine’s Day card to David, that big old kid who sat behind me who already was nearly six feet tall and weighed about 170 pounds. He’d always laugh a fiendish, “Hey, Williams, heh, heh, heh,” as he tried to stare me down in the middle of an intense and personal dodge ball game just before hurling that big, spongy projectile at my head as hard as he could.
Somehow, “Please be mine,” never seemed to be the appropriate message for that kind of person, despite the frivolity of the Valentine’s Day occasion.
Thankfully I’ve left the Valentine’s Day world of elementary school far behind me and joined the Valentine’s Day world of adults, even though I sometimes long for those simpler days where someone else worried about how to pay the bills and make ends meet — the days when all I had to do was wake up each morning with a smile on my face and an empty stomach hankering for a big bowl of cereal.
As an adult, the focus of Valentine’s Day becomes simpler and sharper. Most of us have a significant someone who plays an important role in our lives, and today is the day to remember them with flowers or candy or a romantic dinner or a card or a few extra kind words or some or all of the above.
And don’t forget to say the three little words everyone wants to hear — I love you. I guarantee you your loved one will appreciate it.Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.
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