Ahh, the high school dating scene….
Did you go to high school in the 1980’s? I did. There, now I’m dating myself, pun intended.
Back then, I didn’t date anyone because no one was asking! Maybe it was because I went to the same high school where my dad taught physical education and coached two teams, and maybe dating a coaches’ daughter was off-limits in some unwritten high school code of law.
But, those in my high school who were seriously “going out” – and by that I mean they didn’t just “hook up” — were so very much in love and so happy the whole world needed to know. As sickening as it was for the rest of us.
In high school, you knew who was going out with who because of all the of PDA (and that’s not Personal Digital Assistant. Remember, this was the 1980’s. These were Public Displays of Affection) in the hallways, the stairwells, the cafeteria, in the schoolyard and on the bleachers.
Girls with boyfriends would go to the Mall and have these sweatshirts made up. (Another memory of the 1980’s, the melting, rubbery smell of the T-shirt shop.)
On the front of the sweatshirt, and it was usually a pink sweatshirt, would be the girl’s and boy’s name in a big air-brushed heart.
On the sleeve of the sweatshirt would be the date of what I guess was their first date, something like this:
Then on the other sleeve, something like this would be written:
And, if the happy couple were dating a really long time – say, six months – the boy would bestow upon on the girl as a gift an ankle bracelet. Only the ankle bracelet was not worn on the ankle but on a chain around the neck.
No other time did the have-nots of high school romance feel more left out than around Valentine’s Day.
Every year in my high school, the Key Club would hold its annual rose sale for Valentine’s Day. Roses were sold in different colors:
Red – I love you
Pink – I want to get to know you better
Yellow – Secret Admirer
White – Friendship
Roses were distributed the morning of Valentine’s Day in homeroom.
In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day of one’s senior year, seniors had another big day to think about and that was prom. That’s because at the Staten Island Mall, the prom dress displays would go up pretty much as soon as all the Christmas decorations would come down.
What made it worse was I believe that was the same year Pretty in Pink was in the movies. So many questions arose months before the prom among my circle of friends:
Who are you going with?
What will you wear?
What other friends are going in the limo with you?
In the timeline of high school, receiving a rose on Valentine’s Day could be a determining factor for answering the above questions about prom night.
So, there I was in homeroom on Valentine’s Day, when to my shock, I received a rose.
A red one.
Now, at the time, I was not interested in anyone, at least anyone who went to my school.
At that moment I thought of my mom’s wise words: it will happen when you aren’t looking. Someone sent me a red rose! Whoever this person was had circumvented the rose selections of friendship, get-to-know-you-better or secrect admirer. The sender of this rose went straight to
This could be big! This could be my first Love!
My 17-year-old mind whirred. Who could it be? Someone in my AP English class? Certainly not anyone in AP biology, I hoped. Or, someone who was in none of my classes who would see me in the hallway and confess his love and we would go to prom and everything would be wonderful!
With each class I went to, I walked in expecting – I don’t know what.
But nothing happened.
Then, it was time to go to gym.
As I headed across the gym floor to the girl’s locker, my dad was heading out of the boy’s locker.
He greeted me with a big smile.
“Hi honey! Did you get my rose?”
I gulped. “Rose?”
“Yes, I sent you a rose!”
At that moment, I wanted to die. Just someone, please drown me in the locker room shower.
But I know my dad really meant well. Looking back, my dad just wanted to send his little girl a rose. But then, the 17-year-old me just died on that shiny gym floor.
“Thanks, dad,” I said, and I think I even smiled. Because I knew he meant well. But when you’re in high school, with the sweatshirts and ankle bracelets, a rose given to you by dad is well, not all that – womantic.
Valentine’s Day is coming, and maybe the Beatles had it right: All You Need is Love. Lenny Kravetz also sang the truth in his song: You’ve Got to Let Love Rule. With a two weeks to go, I guess people are looking for love in all sorts of places, including the blogosphere.
Unexpectedly, one post is attracting quite a lot of attention on my blog. It isn’t a blog post that addresses any serious issue, like bullying, Israel, or education. It’s about love, and in particular, the dying art of writing and saving love letters. But maybe I should expect such attention on a subject that is so universal and enduring.
This post has been read this week, so far – 335 times and counting. Traffic was drawn to my webiste over 320 times – and counting – this week through those who searched “love letter” or “old love letter.”
And this made me wonder – maybe romance isn’t dead. Maybe people still want to pause, be in the moment and pen old fashioned love letters. Maybe they realize that matters of the heart cannot be digitized into texts and tweets. Maybe, in spite of technology, old-fashioned love endures.
For those of you who searched “love letter,” I can’t help but wonder – were you looking for an actual love letter template? This written display of affection shouldn’t be approached as you would a resume and a CVC. I think the recipient of such a love letter would see right through the prefabrication of it. Love letters are unique, like snowflakes.
Were you expecting me to print one of those love letters here? Sorry, but in a future post, I may discuss a box of love letters I found between my grandparents, written to each other when they were only 19.
So, in your search for love letters, I hope that you craft that perfect heartfelt prose to give to your loved one before February 14.
Love should be about love. Acts of love should not be reserved to one date on the calendar. I think Valentine’s Day puts equal pressure on those Happy Loving Couples and All the Single People. Valentines Day is on a Manic Monday and romantic feelings are somewhat hard to switch on between dinner, homework, and after school commitments.
For singles, you must start dreading this day right after the Christmas decorations come down in the store. It seems as soon as the trees and lights come down, the hearts, cards and candy go right up. For couples, it’s hard to throw on that romantic switch on a Monday night between dinner, working, homework with the kids and after school commitments. So remember, love is every day and can be shown in different ways to the different people in your life. If it’s a stranger, hold the door open or leave behind a store coupon you are not going to use in just the right spot. If you are a parent, sneak in an extra treat into a lunchbox. If you are a teacher, teach with enthusiasm and energy for your students. If you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. Do some dishes unasked. And by all means, go buy that heart-shaped box of candy. If you search and put love into the universe, one day, love will find its way back to you.
When I was a newlywed living out in California, I would stop on my way home from work at the Safeway to pick up groceries for dinner. I would cut, clip, and shop for gourmet recipes involving roasted peppers and wild rice and pumpkin ravioli to cook for my new husband. Cooking for two was fun and it seemed we had all the time in the world to prepare a meal.
One of the checkout cashiers would play this little game of guessing what I was making for dinner, or what kind of night was ahead, based on the contents of my shopping cart.
One night was pretty easy: Romaine lettuce. Anchovy Paste. Parmesan Cheese.
“Ahh, I’ve guessed it!” He exclaimed. “You must be making Cesar Salad! The anchovy paste is the key ingredient for a good Cesar salad,” he said with a big smile. I guess in his line of work he played this game a lot to stave off boredom.
The contents of my shopping cart have changed over the years. The newlywed lifestyle ingredients were first replaced by boxes of diapers and jars of baby food, and these items have been replaced by the basic stuff of lunchbox meals and quick meals at home: Bread. Eggs. Milk. Peanut Butter. Turkey Slices.
This weekend, as I unloaded my last item onto the belt, a young single man got in line behind me. He had cropped sandy blond hair and wore a light brown hooded sweatshirt with apparent skulls embroidered into it. I couldn’t help notice that each time he reached into his cart, me and everyone around him got a glimpse of striped, bright pastel underwear that ballooned out on top of his low-cut jeans. Really. WHY do low-hanging jeans remain in fashion?
On the conveyor belt, right next to my boring cut up chicken and bag of Yukon gold potatoes, he placed one, single-serving Baked Alaska from the patisserie. Yes, my local supermarket, Wegmans, has a real French patisserie inside, along with a real wood-burning oven for artisan breads, a sushi kiosk and a Kosher deli.
But this blog post isn’t about Wegmans, and it’s not about the Helping Hands at Wegmans who will on rainy days escort you to your car with a huge golf umbrella and unload the grocery bags into your cart. This is about the groceries of the single man.
So, this dainty treat, with its broiled meringue topping, was carefully placed inside a clear plastic container. This dessert for one, maybe two, also included its own garnish: five raspberries and three thin slices of what looked like the perfectly ripened peach. A perfectly ripened peach — in October.
The single man continued to load other contents of his cart onto the checkout belt – a big bottle of Listerine Complete that whitened teeth while it freshened breath. Several boxes of frozen gourmet gnocchi, and a box of flatbread sausage pizza.
In my head, I silently wished single man good luck for whatever his evening entailed, and hope that whatever girl was on the receiving end of that Baked Alaska appreciated that a man would buy her a Baked Alaska, complete with a raspberry garnish, for dinner on a Sunday night.