Whole Lotta Love

Feb 14, 2013 by

 

My daughter and I were perched on stools at the kitchen table looking over a handwritten list containing five names of her classmates.  We opened the box and removed five princess themed Valentine cards.  As we reviewed the list of names I inquired about the children we were about to prepare Valentines for tomorrow’s very special school Valentine’s Day celebration.  She wasn’t interested in answering general questions about her five classmates, so I dropped my line of questioning and wrote out the name of each child on the back of each card.  She then spelled her name on the line marked to say who it was from.   She then carefully chose a sticker and placed it underneath her name, completing the process.   We had an efficient system and knocked out the school assignment rather quickly.  She wanted to keep going so we prepared Valentine Day cards for John, Paul, George and Ringo.  She continued on with making cards for her sitter, various family members and our pets.  We were finished when there were no more Valentine’s Day cards left in the box.  She was having the grandest of times.

Somewhere between writing out the names of musicians from Liverpool and her grandmother, I began reminiscing about doing this same exercise for my 4th grade class.  I was overcome with feelings of great anxiety and wanted to cease what I was doing with my daughter as soon as possible.

It was the same drill today for me in 1984.  However, the difference being we had to give cards to all twenty or so of my classmates.  My mother bought the Valentine’s Day cards from the pharmacy and handed them over for me so that I could set out on my night of misery.

Being a first class introvert and not wanting to seek any unwarranted attention, especially with girls, handing out Valentine Day cards had to be the worst school day of the year for me.

I was a shy boy who only felt at ease with a small group of friends.  I chose my friends, like most of us do, through a sharing of common interests.  In 1984, those interests were anything sports related and Van Halen.   These interests obviously knocked out most of my classmates, especially girls.

So to deter any unexpected interactions (conversations) as well as insuring there were no mixed signals, I made damn well sure that whoever received a Valentine’s Day card from me would clearly understand where they stood with me.  This is extremely difficult when every Valentine’s Day card was marked with words and phrases such as love, be mine, ever after, true love, I’m yours, etc.

This project of making sure my female classmates would not get a card from me with any language even remotely centered on me displaying any type of affection towards them was a formidable challenge.  I would lay out all the cards and begin a very detailed process of picking out cards with meanings of friend rather than lover to the girls, in turn; the boys would receive the more suggestive type cards.  I figured the boys would not give two shits about the cards given to them with about a hundred percent possibility the cards would go unread.  I did not believe the same would happen with the girls in my class.  I assumed they would not only read the cards but read too much into them.  This would then spark an encounter of some kind with me that I was not socially prepared for at the tender age of 9 years old.

Come to think about it…I was really fucked up as a kid.

This way about me stunted my social progression and made me bury feelings about everything for years to come.  Being an introvert is tough in elementary school and didn’t get any better during my middle and high school years.  Thank god for alcohol, without it who knows when my reluctance to talk to the opposite sex would have subsided.

Even the one girl I did have a crush on in my 4th grade class would receive the card relating a message of friendship and nothing more.  There was no way I was throwing down any feelings I had towards her.  It took me all night to strategically come up with a game plan for who got what Valentine from me.  I even got to the point of crossing out the word love and replacing it with the word from when signing my name on each card.  The process really took a toll on me and by the next day, when I dropped the cards in the bags labeled with names of my classmates, I was completely exhausted.  The whole ordeal was just plain awful.  I’ve hated Valentine’s Day ever since.

My black heart is prominently on display each Valentine’s Day all due to that particular day in school many years ago.  All those emotions I felt make a brief appearance on the 14th of each and every February; last night they came back twofold.

I will need to address this in my next therapy session.

What I witnessed last night with my daughter gave me some relief.  There is at least one characteristic she won’t get from her crazy father.  Time will only tell with my son.

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Here is wishing everyone the happiest of Valentine’s Day.  I hope your day is filled with gestures of love from family and friends.  Today I will plan on listening to some tracks from Fair Warning and wish for the day to end.

Love From,

Matt

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1 Comment

  1. Katie

    Oh my gosh, Matt, I read this last night and completely understand! I could picture you sitting with her while this movie of your elementary days played in your head!

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