THE INCARNATION OF LOVE
As if it isn't miserable enough to be a twelve-year-old girl, add some jealousy and humiliation and you've got the makings of the worst Valentine's Day ever.
The year:1988, the object of my affection: a boy named Matt, part rebel and 100% flirt. In math class he would reach into a tiny Ziploc bag, pull out a miniature rubber band, and instead of slipping it onto his braces he would shoot it across the room. Right at me. From what I had been told about preteen boys, this act was a sign of affection. I would laugh, whisper a flirtatious, "Stop it" and smile inwardly.
He obviously loved me.
When Valentine's Day rolled around I took a chance and confessed my feelings via a student council carnation. My tiny act of adoration paled in comparison to what Matt did to show the world which girl he truly liked.
Spoiler alert: It wasn't me.
It was Kara, who had recently moved from Tennessee and had a sweet southern drawl and beautiful golden flecked hair. I had been one of her first friends when she arrived, but as we approached teenage-hood she began to pull away and associate herself with the popular crowd, destined to become a cheerleader in high school and date all the best looking jocks. Matt, of average attractiveness (a hunk by my standards), did not even blip on her radar. But that did not stop him from sending her a dozen red roses. Roses. That he ordered from a florist and had delivered to homeroom. Their appearance made a mockery of my single white carnation. And dashed any hope I had of Matt becoming my Valentine's Day sweetheart.
What a sad, sorry tale of woe. So what? Heartbreak happens all the time. But it didn’t end there. On a dare, Matt decided to eat my carnation. Chomped away at it during first period as if it were an ordinary breakfast sandwich. Did I mention he was a bit of a class clown? Oh, yes, the rubber bands. An act I had mistaken for affection, one that was carried out simply for a laugh. And there I sat, once again the butt of his joke. If that hadn't humiliated me enough, he proceeded to draw a flower onto a piece of notebook paper, staple it onto the last two inches of stem that hadn't ended up in his stomach, and place it on my desk. Desperate, I took it as a sign that maybe I did have a chance with him after all, and saved that pathetic spit covered stem for weeks. On the paper flower he had written, in scrawled boy handwriting, "Sorry I ate your flower. Love, Matt"
Love! I held onto that hope way past its expiration date.
Meanwhile, Kara threw her flowers in a nearby trash can, unwilling to give any indication that she returned Matt's affection. The path of rejection drew a straight line to her, the one with the most power. It taught me a valuable lesson in the hierarchy of love and showed that taking a risk does not always pay off.
As for Matt, he ended up in the hospital with stomach distress. Turns out the chemicals florists use to dye and preserve carnations make them inedible.
Love hurts, but karma is a beautiful thing.