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Valentine’s Day Shame

by Jonathan B Perry
Not to go all girly on you, or anything, but I thought I’d talk for a moment about V Day in a reminiscent musing sort of way.

Shannon, Mrs. Abbott, and me at the Cinderella Ball

Shannon, Mrs. Abbott, and me at the Cinderella Ball

Wednesday, I hit a few stores (shopped, not robbed) and took a gander at the Valentine’s chocolate, as per my gluttony (chocolate, not V Day). Swarming the holiday aisles, hoards of parents with children in tow picked out Powerpuff Girls and Hanna Montana Valentines for the kids to pass out to their little friends and classmates. Of course, we all remember taking part in this ritual of elementary school, though we probably had more Batman, Transformers, GI Joe, and Smurf stuff. I also remember that we each had to give Valentines to everyone in the class if we gave them to anyone, as part of the communist gifting system that starts early in the schools, even if one of the kids was a little snot. Despite the gift equality edict, there was still a little wiggle room to show favor. You could always buy crappier cards for the kids you cared less about, then give the cooler cards to your friends, perhaps adding chocolate. If there was a special little someone you wanted to impress, you could even make your own homemade cards using construction paper, paper doilies, and glitter. This was an area in which my mother excelled in training her sons.

In her pursuit of making us properly domesticated humans, much attention was paid to teaching us certain arts and crafts that might eventually become useful in tricking future mates into liking us. Also, mom didn’t have any girls, so we’d have to do. We’d make those cards, but we’d also do weird, almost shameful things. Making sugar cookies and frosting them wasn’t bad because we’d get to eat several of them, and the Prince Charming costume for the Cinderella Ball was fine model-rocket-modelbecause it looked pretty cool and the girls dug it, but the mop doll thing was very different. And this was perhaps in high school, so it was extra weird. From some evil women’s magazine, she took the idea to make dolls out of mop heads for Valentine’s Day. Ribbons, bows, paint, and a hot glue gun were required in the multi-hour contruction. I believe we each made 2 or 3 and gave them to our closer female friends and interests. Apparently the girls liked them, but I think we always felt this essence of shame in having made them and publicly owning up to having made them. Now, if we’d made model rockets together and given those to the girls, there would have been more pride involved. Of course, there might have been some Freudian subtext to it. And the therapy sessions would be different.
Oh, happy Valentine’s Day.

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