Tweenage Dreams on Valentine’s Day

IMG_7470To 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.


About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. #RESIST
This entry was posted in Memory, People do silly things, yeah write and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Tweenage Dreams on Valentine’s Day

  1. Me too! Me too! This could have been about my adolescence, except replace “feathered hair” with “brown lip-liner.”

  2. aishasoasis says:

    Adorable melancholy… what an interesting mix of emotions you have evoked in this piece – beautiful!

  3. TT&NB says:

    This is beautifully written.

  4. outlawmama says:

    This is so perfect. I’ve used apathy similarly. So well written

  5. Erica M says:

    All those girls on the receiving end of those gifts in junior high and high school have been divorced three times and are 10 years away from being some kid’s great-grandma. Or so we tell ourselves. Heartfelt post.

  6. Karen says:

    This is so great! I love, love, love your final paragraph – especially the “ebbs and flows of candy heart desires” and wearing “apathy like armor, and derision like a sword.” Perfection.

  7. Angela Ryan says:

    I hear you! This is so me too! This was beautifully written. Loved it!

  8. me too!! i like to think that maybe that boy was out there holding that bear for us, just as nervous and afraid as we all were? i know.. probably not… but maybe. 🙂

  9. Stacie says:

    So hard to be a teenager…But now we know the chocolate in a Whitman sampler really isn’t that good. Love this post!

  10. Oh man. You totally took me back. I remember one year on V-Day I carried around a dried, black rose. Haha! Oh, the teenage angst! I hope I remember how real it all felt at the time when my kids go through it.

    • I didn’t have enough RAWR in middle school to do something so rebellious. But boy was I always truly relieved my daydreams never became real.

      And re: the kids. I dread the anxiety and tears should they come. 🙂

  11. It’s not easy for a young boy to drop a surprise Valentine’s gift on an unsuspecting young girl. Trust me, the fear of rejection is sufficient to scare off secret admirers.

  12. Love your style on this one.
    I’m picturing you in Woolworth’s.

  13. I think we may have been the very same adolescent/teen. This piece made me want to run straight to the store after work to buy huggable bears and candy for all the teens and tweens I know. And maybe some for myself too.

  14. Don’t feel too bad. I’ve been married forty-one years to someone I know loves me and have yet to get a Valentine’s Day gift. I think it’s a marketing holiday.

  15. Eugene says:

    If memory serves, most middle school boys, at least us really geeky ones, didn’t know enough to give much thought to Valentine’s Day. But we did daydream about cute, punky, alienated girls who might bounce around to Public Image Ltd with us.

    This is NOT a Valentine’s Day message! (F chord / E chord / A chord)

    But: happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Yeah, I realized pretty quickly that all this plushness and untasty chocolate giving was a construct of which only a portion of middle schoolers were aware. And thanks! Not a fan of the holiday, just the date.

  16. Tina says:

    I remember those days! I finally went out and bought myself one of those giant Hershey’s kisses they used to sell, just to make myself feel better.

  17. shailajav says:

    Hmm, I can honestly say I never had a boy picking out a teddy bear for me, but I did have one guy write an awkward poem, professing his undying love; although,that was more creepy than romantic. But,sigh.. yes, I do think we all went through this as young girls. The outward disdain and the inner hope…

  18. hellomimosa says:

    Aw…I want to give the younger you a hug and a teddy bear! V-Day is such a polarizing holiday because of the romantic implications. As a people, we modernize everything else to be all-inclusive, so why the hell can’t we modernize Valentine’s Day, too?!

    • I think a lot of people do that now! There’s also the “anti-valentine” thing of wearing all black or something similarly rebellious. I just didn’t think to be so overt about it. 🙂

      • hellomimosa says:

        I’ve decided to just embrace it. Be proud of the fact that I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day for no better reason that I am a romantic and I like doing cheesy romantic shit; and it sucks that the “holiday” is geared towards couples because it means that me and adolescent you and a million other people get left out for reasons that are (mostly) out of our control. And that’s stupid and just not fair. What happened to equality, dammit?

  19. christina says:

    oh man. you brought me right back to middle school and high school. man, I hated so much about my youth.

  20. wcdameron says:

    Being a teenager was so difficult! There were so many things I desired, but couldn’t even voice them, but finally attaining them made it all the more sweeter. This was so well written.

  21. mamarific says:

    Oh, those tweenage dreams. You captured them so well here, which reminded me of the time I sent myself a carnation in 9th grade because I knew all the feathered-hair girls would be getting them & didn’t want to be the only one lacking. Ha!

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