To say there were never any grand expectations surrounding Valentine’s Day would be a lie. But I didn’t have to admit it. I never said it out loud, and even to myself it was wrapped in half-laughed-at daydreams. Still, sometimes, shuffling through the make-up aisles of Woolworth’s, I’d end up in front of the red boxes of chocolates with ruffled bows and wonder if this might be the year.
My pre-teen hand might have (maybe) drifted up, once or twice, to the velvety foot of an oversized teddy bear holding a ruffled candy heart. My mind might have (maybe) wandered to a dream-like moment of surprise, a blush, hands flying to hide my smile. I might have (probably) even imagined envious looks on certain classmates’ faces, girls with feathered hair and Lee jeans and non-imitation Izod-collared tees.
But it never happened. No boy, cute or otherwise, ever purchased a stuffed animal with a red bow for me. No boy, with a sheepish grin or otherwise, spent hard-earned lawn mowing cash on a Whitman’s sampler for me. No boy, anonymous or otherwise, ever sent a rose to my Social Studies class to support the student association’s latest venture on Valentine’s Day for me.
And at the end of each Valentine’s Day in middle school, I’d breathe a quiet, private sigh of relief. Because really, what would I have done? My quiet, shy, nervous-around-anyone-but-my-friends junior high self would not have known what to do if confronted with a cuddly, huggable, accompanied by chocolates stuffed bear. Coyness was possible in daydreams, but in harsh fluorescent reality it became painfully and impossibly awkward.
Later, when high school witnessed some of the same ebbs and flows of candy-heart desires, I learned to wear apathy like armor and derision like sword. But under the oversized sweater borrowed from my father’s closet and my Johnny Lydon version of Valentine’s Day, I still harbored a glimmer of maybe and what if surrounded by the safety of a faceless admirer. For all my eye-rolling and shoulder shrugging, and despite my anxious anticipation for a Valentine that never came, it would have been nice to know that some boy, cute or otherwise, had picked out a silly, cuddly bear with a ruffled candy heart just for me.
Hooking up with the yeah write challenge grid this week, are you? Either way, go out and buy one of those ridiculous Snoopy hearts or a goofy stuffed animal in heart-dotted boxers for a tween or teen in your life.