I have been going through my scrapbook. I've saved everything. The corsages from two proms are still pressed in there, crumbling with each page turn, looking like some bad powder room potpourri. And it got me thinking about romance and Valentine's Day. Remember when you were a kid and Valentine's Day was only a kaleidoscope of red and pink? FTD commercials played on TV and we were obsessed with those little heart candies that had "Kiss Me," "Be Mine" and "Luv You" written on them and tasted better if they were yellow? I loved reading the stamped messages on the pastel-colored hearts inside the box through the clear plastic heart-shaped window where you would carefully select whom you would give what saying to. The decision was weighted. You couldn't give "Kiss Me" to the wrong person. That could spell "Disaster." We made our own construction paper Valentine's before pre-made ones became the norm. I loved the anticipation of making Valentines, and having the kitchen table be a blanket of glitter.
As a teenager at Hollywood High School, Valentine's Day was all about Sheik-O-Grams, the 5 x 7 illustrated cards with our school's mascot, a sheik, leaning out of a hot air balloon holding an arrow that had skewered a heart while holding a bow in the other hand. You could buy a Sheik-O-Gram to send to your desired ones for one dollar, which included a red and white (our school colors) lollipop. Each Sheik-O-Gram had a pre-written checklist along the side you could mark alerting your chosen Valentine of your feelings. "Give me an 'A' on Valentine's Day." "All ya need is love." "Ya gotta have heart." "To my funny Valentine." And of course, "I Love You." The Sheik-O-Grams were publicly delivered during fifth period. I always hoped everyone would get at least one. But, there was no guarantee. And, if you didn't, you dealt with it. Publicly.
When my kids were in elementary school, not that long ago, the rule was that everyone had to get a Valentine. Equality. The kids couldn't choose whom they wanted to send one to. They had to include everyone, even that punk that got you in trouble. So each kid got a Valentine. And candy. And the party the class parents would throw. The parents got sugar hyped-up kids that crashed in a heap after school. Those democratic Valentine days only lasted until fifth grade where some random edict came down amongst the kids that Valentines were no longer cool. I can't imagine why. I have always found Star Wars and Power Ranger Valentines extremely romantic. When they got to high school Valentines didn't exist except for the already Pierced by Cupid Couples. And by that, I mean, High Schoolers who were already "going" together. When did "going" replace "going out?" Was it when technology took over and no one really wanted to go out as couples so they stayed in and "went" on the Internet? Did you now email a Valentine card to your intended? Or did getting a tattoo of your high school sweetheart's name in a heart on your pubic bone replace cards?
I know, my Post Fifty is showing. And it's sagging. But, I wonder if kids today get to experience any of that anticipation of what it was like to receive a Sheik-O-Gram, or a romantic, handmade card where the glitter stays on you until you shower it off that night, and maybe even find some in your hair the next morning remembering the look in his eyes when you pressed your finger onto his cheek to transfer that sparkly spec of desire from him to you.
I have a scrapbook full of memories, and decaying gardenias that will be passed onto my kids and grandkids. Will our kids have anything to save? If our kids don't make cards, or write poems, what will they show their kids when they're Post Fifty? I guess they'll just tell them about that ultra-romantic time they got that text of fifty heart emoticons.
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