It’s Friday the thirteenth and horror movies abound my viewing habits. It is also the day before Valentines. An odd mixture if you ask me. Blood and gore adorn our insatiable media affliction yet in the stores, red and pink flowers and hearts bombard our senses. Tomorrow, lovers will give each other chocolates and gifts. Then, they will express their undying love to the special someone in their lives.
Some of these revelations will be accepted, some not. Which in a way is quite fitting considering what today is and what it represents. Seems to me, the Fifteenth of February should be the day dedicated to horror instead of the thirteenth. But, that’s just my opinion. This blog is an odd mix of the two… so enjoy.
A long time ago, in the mid 1970’s I met a girl. Her name was Laura, she had glowing blonde hair, pale blue eyes that reminded me of the afternoon sky and she always smelled like strawberries. Maybe the smell was her perfume or a type of shampoo, I don’t know. I do know she had bright, shimmering lips. This was due to the fact she loved lip gloss. Heavy doses of it too and every time she pulled that little glass bottle out of her pocket and applied it, I had to struggle to not stare at her. From the first moment I saw her, I was intrigued, mesmerized, lost in her glory… I was twitterpated so to speak. I was also helpless to control these feelings. Hell, I was only nine. What does a nine year old know about these things? Nothing… absolutely nothing.
When I expressed my longing to my oldest sister she immediately told me I should do something about it. Bring her flowers, chocolate and let he know how I feel. Especially since Valentine’s day was just a few short days away. I told her I didn’t have any money for flowers and chocolate and as far as talking to a girl about feelings… well, that was strictly off the table. Especially since my only real interactions with girls were my sisters and my mother. Also, all the guys I knew had no clue how to talk to girls let alone what to do with one if they ever wanted to be alone with you.
Once again, my sister came to the rescue. Over the next few days, we made a dozen roses out of egg cartons, pipe cleaners, tissue paper and construction paper. We then made some caramel corn and homemade chocolates. Okay, so she did most of that while I tried to make a card for Laura. After a couple days, we had a mighty nice collection of love and adoration put together. I was happy for the help and the outcome. I was also scared shitless of bringing this load of affection to school where everyone would see it and possibly be the brunt of many cruel jokes by my pals.
My sister had an answer for that as well. She put everything in a brown paper bag with my name on it and off to school I went. I knew I wouldn’t see Laura until lunch so I kept the bag with me as I traversed from class to class. When lunch time finally came and I made my way nervously into the lunch room. By the time I got there, a fifty foot walk from my classroom that felt like a thousand miles, I was sweating, stumbling and having a hard time recognizing the images of my fellow classmates. I made it. Barely. As soon as I crossed the threshold of the cafeteria and saw Laura sitting at her regular table with all of her friends my fear grew exponentially. But then I focused on her hair and her eyes. I used them like a tractor beam and made my way towards her as fast as I could. In that moment however, I felt as if I were walking through molasses and my legs were filled with lead. It couldn’t have been more than a thirty second trip but it felt like an hour.
When I got to the table, I stood at the head of it, right next to where Laura was sitting. The table was filled with the most popular and pretty girls in school. Their chatting and laughing stopped as they realized I was invading their space. Laura looked up at me and said “What do you want?”
I stammered, unable to make out any coherent words and realizing my mute plight I just opened the brown paper bag, reached inside and pulled out the flowers and handed them to her. She looked at them and then at me. The look on her face was one of horror and embarrassment. As if I were handing her a fistful of snakes. She didn’t take them so I set them on the table in front of her tray of food. I then reached in and pulled out the cellophane wrapped candies and popcorn and tried to give them to her. Her arms made no move towards the treats as well. I placed them next to the flowers and quickly fished the home made card out of the bag and tried to hand it to her. I can’t say she shuddered in horror but she pulled away from me and leaned into her friend next to her. I dropped the card tried to talk again and realized I had somehow blown my chance at pre-pubescent love. Which is to say, holding hands with a girl I liked and having someone I like, like me in return.
I walked away in shame with my chin on my chest and fighting back tears. I felt as if I’d been kicked in the stomach by not one horse but a whole heard of horses.
The rest of the day, I didn’t talk to anyone. Not my pals, not my teachers and definitely not any girls I saw. The minutes in class passed like hours and when the final bell finally rang I moved as fast as I could to be the first one out of the school doors. I wasn’t successful but I did manage to avoid all my friends. I made my way quickly towards home.
When I got home there was a stranger sitting on my front porch. It was a girl I’d seen around school a few times and had even played on the same kickball team with. I’d also occasionally run into her in the library, yet I didn’t know her name. When she saw me walking up the yard she stood up, smiled and waved. I gave a half hearted wave back. “Hi Skip.” She said.
“Karen. My name is Karen.”
“I wanted to tell you that I thought what you did at lunch today was really cool.”
I just nodded and tried not to look at her.
“And I wanted to ask you something?”
I looked at her then down at the ground. As my gaze was traveling towards the bushes under our windows I noticed there was a brown paper bag sitting next to her school books. Poking out of the bag were some brightly colored tissue paper as if it were mocking me.
I looked back up at Karen, the skin on my neck and cheeks burning with embarrassment. I could also feel tears welling up in my eyes from pain emitting from my recent wound.
“I wanted to ask if it was okay if I kept your gift. I mean, you really went to a lot of trouble to make all this stuff and I like you and….”
My pain seemed to fade a bit with her words. Confusion seemed to be taking its place. I looked at her through glistening eyes. Her hair was reddish brown, short and curly, she had freckles on her face, her lips were thin and her body was all angles and edges. Yet there was a look of vulnerability in her pale brown eyes. I felt a smile creeping into the corners of my mouth and a sense of acceptance and relaxation start to spread through me. I nodded.
“Ya… If you like them you can have them. But, uhm, the card was written for Laura so you may want to throw it away.”
“I read the card. You write real nice. I just wish someone would write that way about me.”
“I’m sure someone will someday.”
“You wanna hang out?”
I looked at her, she didn’t seem so tense since we started talking and I didn’t feel as bad as I had been. “Sure.” I said and sat down on the porch next to her feeling like I was the richest man in the world.
Have a great week and Happy Valentine’s Day and Friday the Thirteenth.