“Will you be be be be be be be my valentine?
You know that I’ll be yours
if only you’ll be mine.”
— valentine’s song I remember from
davy crockett elementary school
even though I can’t remember the school song dammit
It’s 6 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. I’m at the corner store perusing what’s left of the romantic rubble.
Shopping early on Feb. 14 was once something I did in a fevered panic, but I’ve grown to love it. Standing with the other guys, all with Deer in the Headlight expressions, searching for that special something that looks like you didn’t buy it minutes before presentation. Will your wife see the humor in a “To My Favorite Great-Aunt” card? Great-aunts don’t get enough valentine love.
Mo and I established a standard years ago for Valentine’s Day. Chocolate, flowers, more chocolate. Mo’s not much of a jewelry person and doesn’t like fancy stuff, but she’s a sucker for a good truffle. So that’s what I get, along with a bouquet with a shelf life of about the time it will take me to get home.
And then I see them.
A box of those little candy hearts we got when we were kids. Those little things that were mostly inedible but had cute little messages on them, the ones you could hand out to the other kids in the classes, ranging from desirable to, well, me.
It seemed like the perfect trip down memory lane, a chance to re-live the days of our youth.
I make it home just before she wakes up and hide the bounty, then present it later as her sixth cup of coffee begins to kick in.
Flowers, check. Chocolate, of course. Smoochies, certainly.
And then, the little box of candy hearts! Her eyes light up as she rattles the box and the warm and fuzzy memories return.
I ask her to pick one out to give me. Finally. No more “whatever” or “just friends” messages for me. I’m going to land the “Be mine” or “UR cute” or maybe, just maybe, the big payoff, “Kiss me.”
She eagerly pours them out in her hand.
She goes through them one by one, sighing and muttering. Apparently today’s candy hearts have been updated for a new generation. “Txt me” and “#love” and “bff” are the new sayings. Not at all like the early 1960s, when all we had was dial-up modems, and party lines weren’t a party at all.
But she doesn’t tell me any of that. She goes over to her desk for a minute and comes back, handing me a piece of candy.
On it, she has written “i (heart) you” in pencil.
That’s the thing about getting older. You can’t stop change. But you can make up your own rules. All you really need is love.
OK, mostly that second one.
Can you die from eating pencil lead? Totally worth it.