A Valentine’s surprise

by carly pop, W Islip, NY

It was February 14, 1966. I was nine years old and already stressed over Valentine’s Day. The pressure, excitement, the likely disappointments all had me squirming in my seat.

Throughout the morning, we in Miss Kennedy’s 4th grade class felt the tension building in the air. There wasn’t one of us who didn’t walk a little slower passing by our cardboard idol, decorated in red and white paper with red hearts glued on.

All female eyes seemed to fix themselves on John Stevens with his wavy blond hair and John Stevens with raven black hair and a smile to kill. We watched them finally make their red carpet trip to the “box,” giving them our best smiles.

Then I could almost hear the phantom drum roll reverberate around the room. Miss Kennedy chose Harvey Boil and myself to distribute the hot little cards. I could hear the snickers. What did that mean I wondered? The two Valentine rejects given the chance to at least touch the coveted cards before going home empty-handed? Suddenly I wasn�t as excited to open the box. Harvey was already grabbing a pile so I bravely did the same like some elementary Joan of Arc.

I peeked over at my desk, still empty and to the dwindling pile left to hand out and began to sweat. Then from the corner of my eyes I saw Harvey slap one on my desk.

I felt rescued, no matter who sent it. I couldn’t hand out the rest fast enough, so curious to find out.

I slowly opened mine, careful not to rip what lay inside as if it were my heart in there. Then I saw Harvey looking my way with a silly grin on his face. At that moment I knew how Napoleon felt at Waterloo. For over a minute confusion was written over my red face. All I saw was To Cindy, Love Jerry! Harvey gave me someone else’s Valentine’s card! Could it be to save my face? Or a mistake? I saw him turn away as my eyes begged to know what really happened. I stuck the card and envelope into one of my books before anyone had a chance to ask me who it was from. I waited for the bell to ring then ran out of the school as quick as I could.

On my walk home that day, I thought a lot about what Harvey did or what I wanted to believe he did. I also thought a lot about the dirty looks Cindy gave the unsuspecting Jerry the rest of that afternoon and I couldn’t help wearing a silly grin. But I have to laugh even harder now and you would too if you read my Valentine cards each year since 1975. Each one reads the same, To Cindy, Love Jerry. And if you haven’t gotten it yet, you will as I sign off on this Valentine’s day story as the very blessed and loved Mrs. Harvey Boil.