Tracy K. Lorenz ...


Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day, which happens to be the day I’m writing this, used to be like Haloween, a day you looked forward to and planned for, a day you imagined impossible scenarios and went to bed dreaming of the possibilities. In fifth grade anyway.

Before the PC left came in and (again) tried to strangle the joy out of childhood it went something like this ...

A few days prior to February 14th I’d go to the store with my Mom and pick out cards, they weren’t really cards as much as bookmarks with trite sayings on them requesting that the recipient be your Valentine even if there’s no way on earth that’s what you really wanted.

When I went to school everybody brought a shoebox to class and at the end of the day our little Nunny-bunny would announce that the time had come to distribute cards. Electricity filled the room. One by one a kid would walk around and drop his or her cards into the varying boxes.  Sometimes the girls would make hand made cards for a few people and these blatant acts of attraction did not go unnoticed. If, say, Donna Halloran dropped a fancy card in Mark Jazdyk’s box a subtle gasp would feed through the crowd. I don’t remember any guys differentiating cards by individual because we were too cool.

That was just a front.

I know I’d read each card like Columbo before I signed it, looking for subtle nuances that conveyed just the right amount of affection without being overly aggressive.  “Be mine” cards were reserved for two or three girls, “Happy Valentines Day” for the rest, and the sports cards for the guys who’d slug you in the arm if the wrong emotion was tendered.

When all the cards were handed out we weren’t allowed to open them until we got home. That’s when the real fun began. Magnifying glasses came out, cards were held with tweezers and twisted under bright lights, each girls signature was examined for clues of affection. “Hmm, an exclamation point, that’s practically a proposal.” Getting a regular old Charlie Brown card with a girl’s name printed on it was the equivalent of a kick in the nads. If you got a card with a cursive signature, a message, an exclamation point, AND hearts drawn on it you were practically engaged.

One year after class a girl gave me a velvet bag with ten marbles in it, ALL PUREES, I’m surprised her dad didn’t chase me with a shotgun.

But things are different now, “Be Mine” is a microaggression not tolerated in the land of the liberal. A box full of cards that differentiated from each other is viewed as non-inclusive and could lead to childhood diabetes. A heart with an arrow through it? How pagan is that?

I liked it better in the old days, a time of wonder and daydreams and hopeful attraction, we were innocent youth allowed to make our own decisions without domineering Mother’s telling us what to be offended by.

Besides, what’s wrong with a little mid-winter romance, with getting a little heart flutter on occasion?  We may have been innocent but that doesn’t mean we were ... saints.

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