It was Valentine’s Day yesterday — in case you missed it. I almost did. Around noon, my wife reminded me that it was that special day to remember the love interests in one’s life.
I sat down and immediately penned cards to singer Patsy Cline, my second-grade teacher, Ms. Bodie, and “Alice,” who dumped me in the eighth grade, thereby helping me dodge a real life-ending bullet. Last I heard, she was in prison for attempting to murder her third husband.
Alice and I only went to a couple of sock hops before she realized that a skinny kid with glasses, a big mouth and who danced like a crack-addicted monkey didn’t figure into her long-range plans.
Still, my feelings for her were real at the time. Today, I just love that the relationship panned out the way it did.
These valentines will sit in the mail basket until my wife finally throws them out. I can’t blame her. Patsy is dead, Ms. Bodie is lost to time, and Alice is scary.
While I spent the special day with the object of my true affection — who thinks cards and flowers are a waste of money — I gave some thought to valentines I should have never sent.
I’m old enough to remember when giving these cards was mandatory in elementary school. It happened in third grade, my first U.S. school since returning from living in Europe.
The ceremony was new to me. The teacher passed out a list of classmate names to whom we were expected to put a valentine in the large envelope taped to the front of their desks.
I made the mistake of giving a detested classmate a valentine with some hamster droppings in it, which she mistook for candy.
It was a brilliant plan but for the fact that I signed it. Later, I sat in the principal’s office while waiting for the Old Man to come and get me — and listening to the school nurse help Ramona brush her teeth 17 times.
Having learned from the experience, I sent the class bully — a kid named Bruce but more commonly referred to as “Bruise” — a valentine the following year to which I had affixed a dozen dead flies with Scotch tape.
The fact that I sent it anonymously didn’t matter. Dim as he was, Bruise figured it out and sat on my head during most of a recess, occasionally presenting me with gastric valentines of his own.
That’s the last “political” valentine I gave. From that day forward, romance had to be involved. Even so, it wasn’t without risk because those could be equally problematic.
I once gave a valentine to a girl I walked with between classes in high school. She was black, beautiful, intelligent and laughed at my stupid comments.
Her brothers didn’t share the same sense of humor. They beat me up after school one afternoon. It wasn’t because I was white but rather because they wanted their only sister dating up rather than down.
The next day, she apologized for what happened and swore it was not her idea. I believed her. It wasn’t my first experience of being warned off by people interested in keeping me out of their gene pool.
Despite all of that, things ended well in the valentine department. Yesterday, I took my valentine to lunch. We had a great time. Nobody got mad or hurt, and we’re still each other’s valentines.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.