In Junior High School, the worst kept secret in my class was the insane crush I had on Jasmine Thomas. The reasons for this crush are irrelevant – can you think of any reasons for your 7th grade crush that have stood time’s test?
Sometime near the end of January, I decided that Valentine’s would be my day, my time to confirm what was obvious to everyone but me. I started saving portions of lunch money, my allowance, and snow shoveling earnings to purchase a symbol of my affections.
The morning of the 14th I left for school early to allow myself time to stop at the drugstore and buy a profanely tacky box of chocolates. It was hooker red tin foil, wrapped around a heart shaped as large as my 12 year old chest. The box of confections didn’t fit in my locker so I convinced my english teacher to hide it. Even though Mr. Rybcyck had just given me detention the day before, he was a sucker for potential – he stashed the candy for me.
Given my twelve year old angst the day alternated between blurring through courses and moving glacial slow. 2:45 would come eventually.
There was no automated bell at this old fashioned Catholic school; the end of classes and the school day was marked by Sister Mary Too Strict ringing the schoolmarm bell. As the tweenage tide moved left to the door, I moved against it to find Mr. R. Always a serious look on his face, I gave it no thought when he handed me the package with a stern “Good luck & be careful, Refugee.”
Despite the five minute head tart (typo, but I’m keeping it) I knew that Jasmine would still be around – we all milled about searching for some inner cool. That and she wore the plastic orange sash of a crossing guard.
When I bounded through the school doors, I looked for Jasmine in her normal spot on the other side of the street. I took another minute but this box and my courage were burning a hole through me. I was so impatient that I asked Kathy Blabbermouthson “have you seen Jasmine?”
She took great joy in pointing between the basketball hoop and the maintenance shed and saying “she’s over there…
In those moments, words really do echo in the space where your heart should be.
I walked home that day, just couldn’t bear the indignity of sharing heartbreak with everyone who rode the #14 bus towards my house. I almost threw the chocolates in the trash, in a little creek I passed, but I carried them almost the whole way home. A mile or so away from home I passed a woman walking in the opposite direction. “Happy Valentine’s Day” I said before pressing the box into her hands, “I can’t use these anymore.”
I just kept walking even as I heard her shout “thank you, thank you, you really made my day.” Her words did pause my pouting… for a minute.
All these years later I do not relive that moment, or that heartbreak, though I have been known to occasionally give an anonymous gift to a random woman. Neither have I ever really celebrated Valentine’s Day – it helped to always have to run a restaurant. Without that pre-mixed excuse this year, I was especially happy to sign a client for whom I will be preparing a five course dinner. Here’s the menu:
Lobster & Shrimp Bisque
Slow Roasted Pork Cigars with warm Spinach and Apple Salad
Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, horseradish potato dumplings, Artichoke and Asparagus timbalé
Mezzaluna Pastry stuffed with sweet mascarpone cheese & fresh berries
Selection of Cheese with Truffled honey, wild berry compote, and toast points
Oh yeah, since it is Wednesday, I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs. Go on check out that which moved me more than most this past week.
And here are a few links for blog posts I also was digging but couldn’t use for whatever reason:
The Reluctant Grown-Up wrote A very touching story but not sufficiently touching that it makes me want to procreate.
Grateful Dating becomes The accidental advice columnist…
Georgetown Voice examines how the Gender Gap in Elective Politics extends to the Top Hoya Races
Precycling is the New Black according to Twilight Earth