Boys like candy better than poetry, it seems


I love Valentine’s Day. I know some dismiss the holiday as another ploy for retailers to steal our hard-earned cash, but I really can’t find fault with a day designed to celebrate love. I mean, who doesn’t want it? Who doesn’t need it?

As adults, Valentine’s Day is a chance to ply our significant others with chocolates, cards and flowers. We share a smooch over a romantic dinner; we talk about the years gone by, experiences we’ve shared. It can be as crazy or as low-key as we want. Last year I was sick as a dog, so our plans included me mustering up the strength to go out for sushi and then falling asleep on the coach with some chocolates. And Spencer.

When we’re young, though, Valentine’s Day is a crisis waiting to happen. And if you think it’s no big deal whether you receive valentines in school, you’ve never been a 7-year-old.

I totally have. In second grade, Mrs. Brown orchestrated a way for us to leave each other notes: in the pink and red mailboxes we designed. Like many little girls, I had a massive crush on a classmate. He was blonde and blue-eyed. We met in the first-grade classroom next door, our hands touching over a shared bottle of Elmer’s Glue (or some such). His name was Daniel.

After loving him from afar for more than a year (a whole year!), I somehow decided that Valentine’s Day in Mrs. Brown’s class was D-Day. No more hesitation. Time to get bold and do something crazy. Looking back, it’s funny to see shades of who I am now in that tiny body. If there’s one way I have always hoped to win a man’s heart, it’s through a letter — or poem. I’m all about seduction through the written word, baby.

Daniel couldn’t have known what was in my heart of hearts, of course. The night before Valentine’s Day, I sat down with an array of cards my mom picked out. In the early ’90s, we’d reached a point of equality: each student was to bring a valentine for every member of the class. Regardless of how we feel about it, no one was left out.

But which valentine to assign to which kid was vitally important, you know — the wrong message to the wrong kid could prove lethal. I mean, what if you gave a “Be mine, Valentine!” to the boy who throws rocks at you on the playground? He could think you like him. And that is so gross.

Choosing Daniel’s valentine was tricky. After writing out every card but his, I had to find the perfect one. Valentine’s Day is all about love, I figured; how could I do anything but express my feelings for the boy with whom I was irrationally obsessed? Um, as a 7-year-old?

After much deliberation, I finally chose a card featuring Barbie with arms outstretched to Ken, her face split into a smile. “I Love You,” it read. My heart was pounding as hard as it ever had, but I wrote his name and signed my own. Our fates were sealed.

Passing out our valentines the next day, I crept up to Daniel’s mailbox and slipped the life-changing note inside. This was my chance to open up to him! To let him know how I felt! He’d see Barbie and Ken, read that “I Love You” and think . . .

Nothing. From the corner of my eye, I watched as classmates sifted through their sparkly bounty, enjoying the lollipops other kids had dropped in their mailboxes. If Daniel read my card, I couldn’t tell; he was probably too busy eating candy.

An early lesson learned: poetry’s great and all, but the way to a man’s heart is actually through his stomach.

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14 thoughts on “Boys like candy better than poetry, it seems

  1. Oh don’t you know girl! There was always one special valentine in the set you would buy. This story really brings back those tense days in grade school! I had one of those crushes too, and it lasted all the way through 6th grade, then we headed off to the bigger Jr. High and never to realize our true romantic potential. (He didn’t age very well as I see now, so that makes me feel a little better!)

  2. Picking out the right Valentine for everyone was quite a challenge! My mother always made us give everyone in our class a valentine before it was the thing to do.

  3. This is such a cute story that I think we can all attest to! Why can’t boys get the hard work we girls put into stuff? Do they not understand how hard it is to pick out the PERFECT Valentine for them in that box of Barbie Valentines? 🙂

  4. This made me howl — thank you for sharing such a fabulous story. I so remember VDays like this through middle school and all the ‘drama’ of cards and what not. Hilarious — brava, Meg — you’ve made me feel a little bit less grinch-y about Vday! 🙂

  5. I am glad I married a Poetry Boy…who loves an occasional chocolate, too… but words mean more!

    I love your blog and would love to get to ‘know’ you better…so, Hope you don’t mind… but Tag! You’re It! Please stop back at my site for fun questions to answer and pass new ones along!

  6. LMAO! You hit the nail on the head, Meg! I remember going through this same process of choosing just the right card only to have it join a pile where the same card was likely to pop up from some other girl or be trumped by sweets.

    Valentine’s Day really takes on a new meaning for me this year. I’ve taken more time to bring Greyson into the fold. Of course, with a mom like me, his Valentine’s Day goodies will be light on candy and heavy on books. 😀

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