Today, the boys put together their class Valentine’s Day cards. And as they agonized over which card to give to which classmate--God forbid a girl get the wrong idea--I was reminded of a story, which I told to them while they worked. They found it quite funny, and disturbing, and mystifying.
It was the story of the first Valentine’s Day I liked a boy. No, it wasn’t Charlie. (Although I bet if I gave him three guesses, he could figure out who it was. As could a handful of others. So no guesses. None of you.)
The first Valentine’s Day I liked a boy, I was in 7th grade. We lived in a teeny tiny town, and this fact is relevant only to say that in teeny tiny towns, the local high schools often span from 7th-12th grade. So yep; I was pretty much the baby, the newbie, the pathetic middle schooler in a sea of high schoolers. (Along with the rest of my grade.)
And I liked books. And didn’t quite know how to dress (never did get the hang of those mile high bangs). And I still kind of (ok, very much so) liked Little Women and Gone with the Wind and other nerdy, oddly historical things. And I certainly hadn’t become anywhere near skilled at talking to the opposite sex, unless it was in the midst of a sport activity, at which I felt right at home.
And I liked this boy, who was several years older than me. Suffice it to say, it was not going well. Specifically, he didn’t look twice at me. Ever.
It’s also important to note that in 7th grade, my dad taught at the high school. He was my teacher but this really wasn’t as bad as some might think. Not at all. I actually liked it. (I really didn’t get it in 7th grade, did I?)
So there’s your background information. Me: admiring The Boy from afar. The Boy: not caring one wink. My dad: teaching social studies. And in our high school, there was this horrible-awkward-everyone-hated-it-except-the-super-popular-kids Valentine’s Day tradition of boys buying girls carnations. It was a fund raiser of some sort, and throughout the day, classes would be interrupted 2-3 times an hour with flower deliveries.
You can imagine the hubbub this caused: So-in-So bought one for So-in-So. Such-and-Such cheerleader received half a dozen. Someone else got none. Multiple times during the day.
But this didn’t faze me, of course, because honestly, what were the chances? Slim to none, that’s what. So you can imagine my surprise when, low and behold, in the middle of algebra, flowers were deposited on my desk. Addressed to me. And here’s the best part: they were signed…'Anonymous'.
Oh, the humanity.
I marveled at this small miracle all day long. I agonized. I debated. Because they couldn’t be from him. They just couldn’t be. Not even I lived in such a dream world. And yet…
If there’s one thing 7th grade girls are good for, it’s stirring up drama. And that's precisely what all my 7th grade friends did. They giggled and squealed. They bolstered me up. They dared to dream. And somehow, they convinced me of the impossible.
By the time I got home from school that day, I was certain the flower really was from The Boy, and that before nightfall, he’d call and ask me out, and my parents would actually let me go out, and eventually we’d get married and have a house with a white picket fence and a cool car and all the other stuff that MASH game promised. Oh, and I’d be a lawyer (I added that part in just because it seemed to fit the part).
And so I walked in the door on top of the world, clutching my single, already wilting carnation (did I mention they were all dyed our school color…purple?) and my dad--sitting at the table with a snack--took one look at my beaming, happy face, and he said…
Oh, certainly you’ve guessed it…
“You got my flower!”
Believe me when I say that the mortification doesn’t run much deeper than this. I turned about ten shades of red, my stomach dropped nauseatingly, and I fled from the room. I lay down on my bed (powder blue bedspread with white wicker headboard), and cried the bitter, hot tears only a thirteen-year-old can draw forth from her troubled, tortured soul.
Because this confirmed what I already knew, and had known all day, deep down in my heart: The Boy never cared. He would never look twice at me. And we’d never live happily ever after with our duel law careers (What? Was? That?) and my life would never…be…the…same.
(Believe it or not, I got over it.)
But I wasn’t 100% angsty, selfish teenager, because behind the embarrassment, I was most torn up about hurting my dad’s feelings. (Of course, there’s the off-chance he doesn’t even remember this incident that has been seared into my brain. That happens with fathers and their mysterious daughters.) More likely, he wandered away in abject confusion as to what on earth had gotten into me.
So for all you dads out there, the moral of this story is this: don’t buy your teenage daughters flowers on Valentine‘s Day. And if you must, don’t do so anonymously. Just…don’t. Trust me. No good can come of it. No matter how honest your intentions, it will be misconstrued. And then before you know what’s happened, your teenager (who just mere seconds ago was your sweet, little girl) will be falling to pieces in the center of your kitchen, when all you wanted was an after school snack.
(For more Wordful Wednesday posts, visit Seven Clown Circus.)