Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day ain't always sunshine and chocolate...

I hated Valentine's Day when I was in high school. The pep squad--aka, all the wannabe cheerleaders who didn't quite make the cut--sold carnations to raise funds. Funds for what I'm not entirely sure. Cute uniforms, maybe? Cheerleader camp? Never even occurred to me at the time to wonder. Every club and organization in school was always raising money for something or another. Personally, I sold candy bars for the International Thespian Society.

(Calm down. "Thespian" isn't nearly as interesting as some of you may be thinking.) 

Anyway, the carnations were to be ordered ahead of time, and delivered to homeroom on the big day (or as close to it as you could get on a school day). The purchaser could add a little note, and either sign it or remain "romantically anonymous."

Of course, the popular girls and guys got tons of flowers. The girls would cradle their bundles like babies, practically cooing with happiness. The guys would lug them around nonchalantly, dangling them by their stems, all macho in their I-don't-care-ness.

And the rest of us, either flowerless, or maybe with a bloom sent by a sympathetic friend, would smile our stiff little smiles and pretend we weren't humiliated.

There was one nice guy, though. He was a senior when I was a freshman, and he was popular. Not even a jock. Kind of a sensitive artist type, really. The girls just ate that up, and he got an armload of flowers that year, the year I was an awkward "fish" and could only admire him from afar.

Instead of carrying his bouquet around like a trophy, he quietly, in between classes, went about handing red, white, or pink carnations to every girl he passed in the hall who didn't have her own. He did it with a genuine smile, a friendly one, not in the least condescending or pitying.

I was one of those girls, and I've never forgotten him.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Be nice to someone today. You never know who might remember you fondly in the future. :)

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