When I was in fourth grade, Miss Emler had us make Valentine boxes out of shoeboxes for our Valentine cards. I really worked hard on mine. I was a new student that year, transferring from a private Catholic school where there was no Valentine’s Day. Being a student at the Sacred Heart of Mary Juana Academy was pretty close to being in hell, I was sure. So, I was excited to get Valentines from my new friends.
Miss Emler made us take our Valentine boxes home and wouldn’t let us open it to see our Valentine’s. I was really hoping to get one from Doug. He was the cutest boy in fourth grade and I think everyone liked Doug. So, I took my Valentine box home and after dropping my books on the couch, plopped myself down on the floor. I was excited.
Inside were a lot of Valentines. I read each one and put it aside like it was quite fragile. This was fun. But, then, my mom spoke up.
“You know Vickie, enjoy Valentine’s Day now, because when you get married, your husband won’t buy you a damn thing.” she said, as she sucked on her Salem cigarette, and exhaled up into the air. That smoke just kept coming out of her mouth. ” Your father never buys me flowers or candy.” I just looked at her. “Vickie, when you get married, don’t expect your husband to be buying you flowers and candy all the time. It doesn’t happen. You need to go to college and get a degree so you can support him.”
Um, Mom, you’re raining on my Valentine Day experience here. My dad probably bought her flowers one time and she made him take them back or something. I knew he didn’t like her too much. He deliberately ran over her flowers with the lawn mower. I saw him do it. He looked at me and laughed and went back over them again. He was a quiet guy, but he got back at the rolling-pin woman.
“Vickie, then again, you may not even get married, so go to college and get a degree.”
I decided to talk back a bit to my mom. I remember this conversation. ” I will so get married and my husband is going to buy me a lot of flowers and candy and even a dog.” So, there, you loon.
I opened all of my Valentine cards and I didn’t get one from Doug. I was crushed. The next day at the bus stop I asked Ramaine and LeeAnn and Lori if they got a Valentine card from Doug. They did. Now I was ready to cry. Doug didn’t give me a Valentine’s Day card. Life was over….at nine years of age.
At school, I over heard Kacey tell people that she got two Valentine cards from Doug. Two? Way to rub salt into my oozing wound, Kacey. It got back to Doug and he went to her and told her that he didn’t give her two cards. “Yes, you did. You signed both of them.” Seems like Doug put a Valentine card without a name on it in Kacey’s Valentine box by mistake. I heard him tell Scott that he made one for everyone.
So, I went home that day, knowing that that Valentine card was meant for me. But, it didn’t mean anything a day after Valentine’s Day. I hated Valentine’s Day.
Fast forward to February 14, 1984. It was my first Valentine’s Day as a married person. The phone rang. It was my mom.
“Vickie, Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you.” Yeah, me too, Mom. Small talk, then….”Sooooo, what did your husband get you for Valentine’s Day?”
I wanted to lie. You have no idea how I wanted to lie. I wanted to say that he bought me a dozen roses and took me to dinner and wrote me a poem. Because poetry is sexy.
She didn’t give me a chance. She noted my hesitation. “Do you remember when you were little, Vickie? I told you that when you got married that you wouldn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day, didn’t I? Your old mom is pretty smart, isn’t she?”
“Mom, he got me a Valentine’s Day present.” I didn’t lie.
“Oh, he did, did he? …Vickie, I know when you lie. You can’t fool your mother. Ok. What did he buy you?”
Long pause…..then the truth.. “He um, bought me a hamburger maker.”
After she started laughing, I just walked over and quietly hung up on her.
I guess nothing says “I love you” like pressed ground beef.
And that’s why I hate Valentine’s Day.