As an adult, I have no idea why I found them appealing. I mean, they're just expired Pepto-Bismol tinted with food coloring and left to harden in little heart-shaped molds, right?
But for whatever reason, when I was younger, I loved their chalky goodness.
Valentine's Day parties at school always struck me as odd. I certainly didn't love my classmates and they certainly didn't love me. And I always marveled at the valentines we'd write out for everyone in our class. Where exactly does one go to get the paper used to make those envelopes? The Forest of Underachieving Trees?
A big handful of years ago, I picked up my nephew at school after his Valentine's Day party. As we walked to the car, he asked me if I brought him anything for Valentine's Day.
"No," I said. "But how about if we go to Burger King for lunch?" (His mom was no fan of fast food.)
He thought that was a fine idea.
I got him buckled in in the back seat of my car and proceeded to head toward lunch.
While I drove, he asked me if I'd received any valentines that day. "Nope," I told him.
"Why not?" he asked.
"Well, honey, not everyone gets valentines on every Valentine's Day," I explained.
I continued driving. He rummaged around in his bag of Valentine's Day loot.
At a stoplight, he thrust his hand between the front seats. "Here," he said. And handed me a valentine from his stash.
But not just any valentine. This one was flocked. I suspect it was one of the fancier valentines he received that day.
Sap that I am, I got tears in my eyes. And I thanked him very much. And I tucked it underneath the velcro strap that held my CD organizer to my visor.
It's still there.
It is one of two valentines that I've held on to over the years.
The other is from College Boyfriend David.
We met in a fiction-writing class in January 1989.
Class met once a week. That year, our class fell on Valentine's Day.
David always arrived early. We didn't have individual desks in that classroom but rather larger desks/tables arranged in a large square. We sat around the perimeter. David and I sat at a corner, perpendicular to each other. He had a stack of books between us that day and was busy behind them, writing something, his red pen moving quickly. Class had started. He continued with his task. Finished, he slid his hand, palm down, around the stack of books. He lifted his hand to reveal the card he'd just made for me.
Inside there is a poem. I love this little card. I keep it tucked away in my box of important papers. It is one of my all-time favorite things.