O my God, the Ten Commandments include “Thou shalt not covet,” so I try not to envy those who spend $$$$ so they can post beach pictures in Florida. But OMG, is it wrong to feel just a little smug that today in Indiana, we’re expecting 65 degrees?
Vestiges of first-grade shyness still cling to me when Valentine’s Day nears.
As my class colored purple-lined mimeographed hearts, our teacher explained we’d soon celebrate a love holiday.
“Ooooooh.” The boys made kissing noises.
Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween — none of these turned my face red as my Crayola. I’d even heard yucky rumors people kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But my parents always sent me to bed early, so I didn’t have to witness it.
Now in school, I celebrated mushy Valentine’s Day. Despite reservations, I enjoyed decorating a white doughnut bag with pink hearts — though I had no idea why. Then our teacher explained we, like mail carriers, would deliver valentine cards to our classmates’ bags to make them feel special.
Though I didn’t consider Scary Larry Williams and Donny the Dirt Adams special, I could live with that. On Columbus Day, we only sang songs about a dead sailor who got lost. On Valentine’s Day, I ate the red-hot cinnamon hearts off a pink-frosted cupcake, then washed it down with cherry Kool-Aid.
I labored over my class list, reserving ballerina valentines for my girlfriends. For boys, a lower species, I selected animals. Ugly ones.
I suffered my first case of writer’s cramp printing names on the cards. This love stuff was hard work!
But I received pink ballerinas and multiple Snow Whites in return. I even enjoyed those sent by subhuman boys.
I applied phonics to the faint print on candy hearts, only to discover such steamy sentiments as “my baby,” “be mine,” and the dreaded “kiss me.” More disconcerting: we each received fat red wax lips. The first-grade class looked as if we’d made a field trip to a plastic surgeon’s. More kissing noises.
But Mrs. Cade didn’t stand the boys in the corner. Instead, she abdicated her moral responsibility as a teacher and donned lips herself!
Later, I asked my mother to solve the mysteries surrounding the heart candies. Was “my baby” supposed to be a compliment? All my baby brother did was pee, poop and puke. Mom said a young man might call his girlfriend “baby.” That explained the incomprehensible songs on the radio.
Valentine’s Day appeared the strangest holiday of the year, and the love/romance scenario remains puzzling as ever. But it’s nice to know I’ve moved past the first-grade version. Forget the candy hearts; now I’m into Belgian chocolates.
I also understand real love means even harder work than addressing valentines.
And that kissing noises aren’t so bad, after all.
How do you remember your first Valentine’s Day experience?
In 1998, a rabbi promoting marriage among Jewish singles conceived the idea of speed dating, now practiced globally. Interested parties sign up for several round robin dates of three to eight minutes. Most of us spend more time selecting sides at Wendy’s.
Even if positive vibes result, many more check-’em-out dates will be required to truly know each other. So, wouldn’t it be wonderful if those longing for true love could detect losers and schmoozers in one day?
Ta-da! My revolutionary concept, Love Trials, cuts to the chase. This scientific approach will benefit all humankind, plus make me a few million dollars. Each participating couple will know whether they have found their soul mates after five short sessions in which they:
Trial #1: Pack a suitcase. The girl and guy are given one small bag. Not one each – one. She does her best, but it only holds a weekend’s supply of lipsticks. And is he really going to wear that?
Trial #2: Visit a buffet with one plate. When a woman’s baby spinach salad vies for space with the guy’s giant nachos topped with five pounds of bacon, she may reconsider. His passion may cool, too, when she doesn’t want his food touching hers.
Trial #3: Dig a car out of a snowdrift. Even without the debate as to who should have listened to whom about road conditions, speed and directions, this trial proves invaluable in unmasking polite claims of gender equality. She dubs him the stronger; therefore, he should push. He thumbs his nose at her so-called dedication to equal rights and claims superior judgment in rocking and rolling out of the predicament.
Trial #4: Hang wallpaper. Participants ask themselves: Do they really want to pledge their lives to someone who can’t distinguish a rectangle from a trapezoid? Who glues his thumbs permanently to his ears? Future wedding pictures are at stake.
Trial #5: Buy each other a $10 gift. She purchases an extra-long towel and embroiders his darling baby-in-the-bath picture on it (winning his mother over). He buys her a heavy- duty ice scraper.
Have the starry-eyed lovers fled the scene? If not, do they still speak to each other? (Grunts count. So do weepy “how could you!”s)
Light up a huge neon Congratulations! sign. Release the balloons and confetti!
In the Love Trials, if he and she have not escaped to Mars and Venus respectively, a relationship with a real, live human being has begun. Break out the chocolates, flowers, music and romance! This couple can celebrate true love until the next great Love Trial:
Planning a wedding.
What tried-and-true Love Trial would you suggest for my list?
Oh, my God, the Weather Channel says snow will come our way. Not a blizzard. Not an ice storm, but a typical bundle-up, red-nose winter day, like many, many others. OMG, thank you that February’s a short month. And that it’s not November.