Monday, February 13, 2006

Say I Love You with...Garfield

Tomorrow, roses will arrive at desks and front stoops across America. Couples will seal their boyfriend-girlfriend status over lobster and wine, and husbands and wives will receive chocolates in the morning and throughout the day poke their thumbs through them, inspecting for orange cream centers. Blughck! And caramel centers. Yes!

But the real Valentine's Day excitement will happen in classrooms.

Tonight, kids will scour the aisles of Osco Drug for the best Valentine cards.

"Shrek," they'll say. "No. Teen Titans."

They'll go home and sign them until their fingers cramp, leaving the "To:" part blank because, as the teacher said, "Otherwise passing out Valentines will take forever, and I've got a date tonight."

Of course, they'll make enough for everybody so that nobody gets their feelings hurt. And tomorrow, they'll drop the tiny rectangles into each others' pink and red paper plate mailboxes.

On the front, the Fantastic Four will exclaim, "You're fantastic, Valentine." Barbie princess will coo, "Have a dreamy Valentine's Day" even though she really wants to say, "You better get me something this year, Ken."

As a kid, I would scour my box every year for an actual love note--lined paper folded up all crooked like only a boy would do. It never happened, so I resorted to reading between the lines of the sayings on the front of the card.

Looking at the Superman card a boy I had a crush on gave me, I'd think, "He gave me the one that says, 'You're out of this world,' and not 'You're a super friend.'" A la Sherlock Holmes, I'd squint my eyes and think, "That can only mean one thing. He likes me!" Just as I heard the Superman theme song, I'd see that he gave my friend a card that said, "I love you, Lois Lane," which blew my theory right out of the water.

But who cared because it was red cupcakes and pink lemonade all around.

"Garfield! Cool!" you'd hear kids yelling across the room.

"Darth Vader. Yes," others would say. I can't remember the saying on that one. "Have an evil Valentine's Day"? "Luke, I am your Valentine"?

Anyway, one by one, we snuck over to give the teacher a card, each of us thinking we were the only ones who thought of it.

Everybody gave everybody a card. Sure, the teachers forced us to, but we also wanted to. Grade schoolers are a tough crowd, but on that day, everybody felt popular. Everybody felt loved. You could imagine that the cute boy or girl had a crush on you because, hey, they did give you a valentine.

The day was an all's well that ends well ending to a Shakespeare comedy. No matter who made fun of who the day before, no matter which boy or girl "got dumped" because of a hellbent heart the week before, no matter how much your teacher picked on you for throwing a few measly spitballs across the room, all was set right that day.

It was, in that way, truly a holiday that celebrated love--not just for your boyfriend or girlfriend; that was easy; but also for the boy who stuck his buggars on your math book and the girl who thought she was the boss of the whole world. We actually loved our brothers and sisters that day, like we learned to do in religion class every day.

I think we passed out Valentines even in junior high. Like coloring or trick-or-treating, we were too old to do it, so we did it as if it were a big joke. It was the only way to save face and keep our childhood from slipping away.

Eventually, our childhoods did slip away. But our traditions are in good hands in classrooms everywhere. Kids big and small will exchange silly puns written on tiny rectangles and everything will be new again. They'll love each other.

Thought for the day:

My son this November kept getting Thanksgiving mixed up with Valentine's Day. Finally, he asked, frustrated, "Is that the day you love or eat chicken?"

Don't be a chicken this Valentine's Day. Tell someone you love them. Say it with a Garfield card. Say it with Star Wars. Just say it.

4 Comments:

Anonymous pat brewster said...

I love you! Mom

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you, Bridge!!-erin
Written like a great Scrubs episode...laughed and smiled while reading and then got a bit choked up at the end...you are good, girl!

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Mike G. said...

Let's face it Bridgie, all Superman could do was fly fast.I'm not sure he could even read. What was he thinking anyway? You're a lot cuter than Lois Lane. And "Great Caesar's Ghost"!!!, we know you write much better than she ever will.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you too Bridget! Thanks for starting my day with a smile and a laugh and a tear. I'm so proud of your talent! Hope my son shows how well he was brought up and gives you a romantic Valentine date, and not falling asleep on the couch. Happy Valentine's Day to you and the boys. Love, Jeanne

5:05 AM  

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