Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day from Another Dimension

Jamaica High School Prom 1968


It would have been nice to write about a new valentine here, but just ‘nice’…not necessary – not for 2012, anyway.  Who knows who and what next year will bring and I’m looking forward to the surprise of it all. 
 So by posting the article below that was published years ago I’m not dwelling in the past. Not at all.  This is a mix of being a little sentimental and a lot lazy.  It’s here – it’s written – obviously timely and it was good enough to be published by Newsday.   I know all the commas are in the right place because a professional editor there made sure of it.  Bloggers don’t have that luxury.  
The date it appeared in Newsday is Saturday, February 11, 1995.  Valentine’s Day also  fell on a Tuesday that year – just like today.   In those days I wrote about Jimmy as Frankie.
 The headline Newsday chose was lame – so here it begins…
By the eighth grade, I still hadn’t received one single valentine and I was beginning to feel unattractive.  I blamed my mother because Dr. Joyce Brothers said I could.  I also blamed Miss Trevor, my gym teacher.  She wouldn’t let me roll up the baggy legs of my gym suit when we ran around the track in front of the boys. Miss Trevor wouldn’t let the other girls, either, but, I felt I needed an edge. She could have worked with me.
By ninth grade, my love life picked up. I got two valentines. One was from Steven Markowitz.  He made me nervous.  During fire drills, we’d all line up in the hall laughing, joking and saying  fun stuff  like, “I smell smoke.” Steven would stand alone, facing the wall.  He seemed to be having a conversation.
I told him I couldn’t date him because I was against the war.  He nodded like that made sense and went back to talking to the wall.
My other valentine was from someone I’ll call Linda.  I took it to mean a best friend thing and we were friends for years. Then in our senior year in high school, she asked me to the prom. I took it to mean she wanted to double with me and my date.
After she went away to college, Linda wrote to say she had found Sylvia, the love of her life and she never wanted to see me again. She told me I was “homophobic.”  I took it to mean she thought I was a wimp, because I was afraid to leave home and go away to college.
So, between, Steven, the wall watcher, and Linda, I hadn’t had much luck with valentines.  That is, until I met Frankie…
We weren’t even 18, but, I knew I would marry him the second I saw him playing “My Girl” on the kazoo for Maryanne.  (Maryanne was his nine year old cousin)
He noticed me too and tried to impress me. He told me that the kazoo was “documented” to be the most difficult of all the  instruments.  He demonstrated how to improvise with a comb and a tissue in case you forgot your kazoo. Maryanne was in love with Frankie, too, but, luckily, she outgrew it.
Besides his musical talent, I knew Frankie was for me because he said the most ridiculous things in a matter of fact way.  Once, when I lost my class ring, he told me not to bother looking for it, because it had obviously gone into another dimension. He said to give it 24 hours and it would turn up. It did.
When our first Valentine’s Day rolled around, he bought me a giant Hershey’s kiss. After we were married a few years, he bought me that same kiss – and ate the entire thing himself.
After the kids came along, the romance of Valentine’s Day was reduced to helping them make their lopsided valentines.  Dollies stuck to red construction paper by wads of Elmers, stayed on the refrigerator until July when they disintegrated.
For a few years in a row, my specialty for Valentine’s dinner was a heart-shaped meatloaf.  My family finally vetoed it, along with my regular-shaped meatloaf.
Last year, Frankie told me it was too snowy to go out and get me a card or flowers, so he filled a vase with water and left it on the kitchen table with a note, “Isn’t it the thought that counts?”
This year our daughter, Jacki, is 18 and has her own valentine. Frankie offered to teach Doug, our 14-year-old son to play the kazoo. He told him a kazoo player always gets the girl.
We talk about the future.  According to Frankie, future Valentine Days might be spent in another dimension and we’ll be able to step right into it. Could be, we’d see a real Cupid target practicing with a laser bow and arrow.  Hey, who knows…maybe, that’s what Steven Markowitz was staring at.
As Jimmy Durante would say – 
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…”