When I was in 4th grade I had a crush on Lisa Battista.
I was a shy kid. I had no idea how to tell her. So I didn’t.
For Valentines Day, though, I got her one of those big sappy cards.
Everyone was supposed to give everyone else in the class a Valentine. Those little clip-out cards you get in packs of 24 with Disney characters on them, and a place inside to tape a lollypop. Something like that. It was a requirement. Everyone had to give everyone in the class a Valentine. They were supposed to be generic.
But I got Lisa Battista a big heart-shaped Valentines card from the Hallmark rack at Kresge’s.
I was a nervous wreck at Valentine exchange time. Everyone was up walking around the classroom distributing Valentines all at once. I dropped the card on her desk as nonchalantly as I could while she was across the room passing out her cards.
But before she got back to her desk, someone else in the class noticed the larger than usual card on her desk and opened it for her.
I don’t remember his name. Scott something, maybe. Maybe that’s why to this day I don’t easily trust people named Scott.
All I remember is the little bastard started yelling at the top of his voice, “Lisa Battista got a huge ‘I Love You’ card, and it’s from Caspar Green! Hey everybody, Caspar Green’s in love with Lisa Battista!”
All of a sudden the whole class was in an uproar about, “Caspar and Lisa sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” I was mortified. I’m guessing Lisa was mortified, too.
I don’t think she ever got to see the card. The teacher confiscated it. It was causing a disturbance in the classroom. In some classrooms order and conformity to the rules is more important than love, I guess. Even on Valentine’s Day.
The teasing was relentless for several weeks. I was sorry I’d gotten the card, even though the crush on Lisa hadn’t gone away. I was awkward and shy to begin with. After that, I was completely unable to approach girls. It was a curse that lasted through High School and into college.
Lisa never mentioned it ever. By the time we got to Jr. High I’d lost track of her. I wonder if she remembers it. I kinda hope not. Or if she does, that it wasn’t the same traumatic event for her that it was for me.
I never mentioned it again either. Not to anyone. Ever. Until now.
Since that 4th grade Valentine’s Day, I’ve come to understand that Valentine’s Days are like that. They’re either gloriously romantic or epic disasters. It’s a day that can only rival Mother’s Day for simultaneous schmaltz and peril.
So, Happy Valentine’s Day. And beware!