Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll returns just in time for VALENTIN’s DAY. She writes:

Well, fellas, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so you still have a little time to get a box of candy, a dozen roses, or at least a card. Some ladies like the Victoria’s Secret stuff, but others think of it as more of a gift FOR you rather than FROM you. But if it jerks her bobber, go for it! Who doesn’t like the breezy feel of aerated undies?

Mr. Ammo Grrrll has no truck with the nonsense of what he calls “Hallmark-­invented holidays,” so I know I’m gettin’ nuthin’ again. But, to be fair, he does give me lovely, random gifts just when he feels like it, so it’s all good. He just won’t be shamed into it by Hallmark.

I’m pretty sure that Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in school nowadays. Too much wrong with it; first of all, it’s a holiday named after a saint which would be offensive to dozens of protected groups, including party­pooping atheists. Then, too, sending Valentines to your classmates would be fraught with gender peril. And lastly, there’s the matter of heart­shaped sugar cookies with pink frosting that would send the First Lady and her henchpersons into a tizzy. Maybe a Carrot­-Arugula-­Lima Bean Cookie would pass muster. Yum.

But, back in the day, Valentine’s Day was a much­-anticipated event to the grade school crowd. Prep took a good week, although you would never tell your mother you had volunteered her to make six dozen frosted heart cookies until the night before.

You would make your Valentine’s Box in Art Class out of a shoebox covered in construction paper and doilies. A printed list of your classmates was sent home, with first name and, often, last initial to cover all the Kathys, Marys, Lindas, and Johns, Bobbys, and Jims. (These are now names that have mostly disappeared, but will be back as “old-fashioned” and cool in another 50 years. Last time I visited my old gradeschool, there were names on the lockers and not a single name was in existence when I was there. Taylor? Keneesha? Jose?)

Your exceptionally ­thrifty mother would buy you a jumbo packet of the cheesiest, cheapest crap Valentine cards she could find. Even the glue on the envelopes was worthless and had to be supplemented with Scotch Tape. Whatever the writers were paid, it was too much. One card featured a puppy and the sentiment “Dog­gone it, be my Valentine.” Oh, for clever!

The teachers in the 50s had not heard of “self­-esteem,” and if they had, would have been against it. But they guarded against hurt feelings by insisting that every kid had to send every other kid a Valentine. Nobody could be left out. So, you had to struggle to find the blandest card to send to that weird little boy who ate library paste. And, of course, the most “romantic” card would be sent to the curly­-haired boy who made your little nine­-year-old heart go pitter-­pat. You would imagine him opening the card, seeing your signature, and realizing at last that you loved him. Perhaps – be still my heart! – he would send the same card back to you! Or at least stop shoving you off the monkey bars.

But, no. He sent you the “dog­gone” one. And the romantic one came from Library Paste Boy. Ewwwww! Well, at least, you reckoned, if we get married, dinner will be easy.

There was also a suck­up Valentine for the teacher. Normally, this was not a problem.

There is a myth that all teachers are selfless, child­-loving mentors and role models. Like all stereotypes, there are enough fine examples who fit the profile to ring true. I could name half a dozen who were tough but fair, inspirational, and thoroughly professional.

However, there were also lazy, incompetent time­-servers. Our fourth ­grade selection was particularly bleak as both classes were taught by “old maids” who were nasty, bitter, and sadistic. And made the picture on the Old Maid card game look like Scarlett Johansson by comparison.

If my son had had the fourth-­grade teacher I had, I would have home­-schooled him, moved to another town, or had an attitude-­adjusting chat with her in the parking lot with a tire iron.

Along with two boys, I was singled out for special abuse, Lord knows why. We’re talking about a little 9­-year-­old girl here not some disrespectful teenager. I spent much of fourth grade with my head in my desk with books piled on top of it, or at the blackboard on my tiptoes with a circle drawn for me to put my nose in. (I have great calves to this day…)

Water­boarding would have been a welcome change of pace. Most of the infractions were allegedly for “talking in class.” I must have been talking to myself, because nobody else ever got punished.

She’s gone now, of course. Tried to outrun a train while driving drunk and it didn’t work out. Oh dear. Holding a grudge is forbidden by the Jewish religion. So, to bury the hatchet, I have composed a posthumous Valentine to her: “Violets are blue; roses are red. I’m still talking, and you’re still dead.”

It’s possible that “grudge” thing still needs some work.

To the rest of you dear Commenters, readers, and even trolls: Happy Valentine’s Day! Tell somebody – kids, spouses, parents, mentors – you love them.


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