Thursday, February 14, 2013

No Score And Seven Years Ago...

It's time for another classic cartoon column! This one's from 2006.

Valentine's Day -- they say you either love it or you hate it. Which camp do you fall into? Take this fun & simple quiz to find out!

1. Your most recent online purchase was...

A) A dozen red roses from, which were delivered to your sweetypookins at noon on Valentine's Day, along with a special note adorned with X's, O's, and other romantic crap.

B) A set of garden raccoons you got your mom for Christmas, which are currently freezing their butts off on your back deck.

C) An express delivery from, a doll which you are, at this moment, in the process of stabbing while listening to your Songs About Death and Destruction mix on iTunes.

2. Today at work, you...

A) Called your significant other 45 times to say you loveeeee him/her sooooo much and thank you for the flowwwwwers and you can't wait to go out tonight oh and thanks for the gigantic stuffed armadillo, you have no idea where you're going to put it, but hey. The thought... it counts... uh huh.

B) Passed out lard-filled chocolate hearts to 25 hungry, soon-to-be-totally-sugar-hyped seven-year-olds.

C) Witnessed someone who would have answered "A" being mushy and disgusting, and spent the rest of the day in the bathroom stall.

3. If you had your way...

A) It would be Valentine's Day EVERY day!

B) Valentine's Day would be declared a federal holiday so you could stay home and watch movies.

C) Valentine's Day would be declared a national day of mourning, and anyone seen having any semblance of fun would be arrested on the spot.

4. Jewelry commercials make you...
A) Go "Awwww I hope my honeybumpkins does that for ME this Valentine's Day!"

B) Want to rob a jewelry store. Not so you can have the jewelry. So that no one else gets any this year! HA HA HA.

C) Want to rob a jewelry store during business hours and take no prisoners.

5. Your thoughts on hearts?
A) A symbol of love!

B) After tracing 32 of them so that a bunch of kids could make mutant Valentine's sacks, you're sick of looking at the colors pink and red.

C) You wish you could remove someone's still-beating one and stomp on it with the universe.

Now let's see how you scored!

If you answered Mostly A's -- Congratulations, you romantic sappypuss, you! You LOVE Valentine's Day. Beware of all the people who completely hate you right now. You are in grave danger and may meet your end soon.

If you answered Mostly C's -- Congratulations! You hate Valentine's Day, and it's obvious. Think of it this way, though -- tomorrow all that Valentine's chocolate will go on sale. You can buy it at a discount and fling it at anyone you see committing acts of affection in public. Aim true!

If you answered Mostly B's -- Congratulations, you're me!

I used to be a C. A bitter, angry C. I had my reasons, and I still think they were valid. And I'm not saying I won't be a C again by next year, but this year... I don't know, something feels different. I don't even want to go into why, because seriously -- I don't know. My love life hasn't changed. February 14th hasn't changed. Last year I almost got run over by a garbage truck and this year my car battery decided to call it quits, so that was fun. But no -- somehow I'm just not bitter this year. Same thing happened with the 4th of July in 2005 -- the old I hate this holiday attitude just wasn't there.

What is happening to me?

When I was a kid, Valentine's Day was the best. At school, we got parties with games, cupcakes, prizes, red punch, and bags full of He-Man and Ninja Turtles Valentines. Our teachers always insisted that we bring Valentines for every kid in class, so it was always a challenge trying to make sure you gave the Garfield You're Pawsome Valentines to the kids who would make fun of you if you gave them anything remotely mushy. ("You're sweet? Oooooh you've got a CRUSH on Jon! HA HA!") Bite me.

And now I work in a school, where not a week goes by that my brain doesn't randomly recover some long-repressed elementary school memory. Today, the smell of fruit roll-ups brought on a memory of our first-grade room mother, the mom of a boy I was friends with back then, who I haven't seen since high school, despite the fact that his mom and my mom are good friends. I don't know where I'm going with this. Uh... I miss first grade. And stickers. And fruit roll-ups. I miss being a kid.

Here I am... Valentine's Day, 1987...

(Could I possibly sit any closer to that kid? I've practically left my own chair! I liked him. I remember because I took his name and turned it into the surname of my Hello Kitty dollhouse cat family. Now that's an honor.)

Fast-forward 19 years...

It's easy enough to pretend I'm a kid again, now, working with all these second and third graders -- that is, until one of them asks me some dumb question, usually pertaining to my marital status, my schooling ("are you in high school?") or my age ("are you sixty?"). It's especially easy on days like Valentine's Day, when things are exactly the same as they were when I was six -- well, except that now I get those big "Teacher" Valentines. And He-Man's long gone. But some things never change, and my nostalgia-meter was definitely working overtime today....


Nineteen years later, the punch is still red. Because hearts are red. Kind of gross if you think about it. It tastes like the lovechild of fruits that never should have gotten together. The cookies? Store-bought, of course. Some outbreak of one of those contamination diseases... ecoli... eboli... the plague... back in my day brought forth this Must be store-bought rule. The cookies? Still heart-shaped. What else would they be?


There are now 571,316 school-kid-friendly Valentine's activities out there, everything from Valentine-shaped mazes, to dot-to-dots of still-beating internal organs, to color-by-number cupids. Not to mention the making of Valentines, a not-so-long-lost art form.


Store-bought pieces of pop culturey paper can be purchased by the boxload, with the to and from already imprinted on them, same as always. All you've got to do is sign your name on twenty-six of them and have your mom write out the kids' names direct from the class list your teacher sent home. Then you can hope & pray that none of the boys notice you have them a Barbie Valentine because darnit, your dad didn't take you shopping until the night before, and that was all that was left, except for Garbage Pail Kids and everybody knows that only gross boys like Garbage Pail Kids. And the last thing you want is to win the approval of a gross boy. Ew, cooties!


Valentine Bags are a necessity, because they enable you to hoard the Valentines as you're collecting them from your classmates, and then open the bag like it's a big birthday present... paw through the cards, searching for candy... and then, because there's nothing else to do, meticulously read each and every Valentine, stopping only to wonder why you didn't get one from Jeremy A., which normally wouldn't bother you because Jeremy A. is gross, but Jeremy A. was giving out lollipops with his this year, no fair. 

* * *

After spending a day surrounded by all of this Valentine's stuff, I am surprisingly calm. Almost... dare I say it... happy.

So I'll admit it -- a year ago, I was anti-Valentine's day, ready to murder anyone who even so much as mentioned it. Don't worry, I haven't converted to a Type A or anything. I was probably the only person who didn't wear red or pink to work today. I wore my Indiana Jones shirt instead. Screw this lovey mushy stuff. I don't have a boyfriend, but I don't really care. Maybe next year, maybe never.

It's hard to be miserable when you spend the day watching sixty kids go absolutely happy-crazy over the holiday. Unless of course you start thinking too deeply about how ninety-nine percent of them will be thwarted in love and be absolutely heartbroken at some point in the next twenty years thanks to a significant other-turned-jerkazoid.

Still, it's hard to be depressed when kids give you Valentines they've hand-written that say things like I'm glad you're my teacher!

Or when they give you chocolate.

Any holiday that encourages the giving of chocolate is officially all right by me.

And if nothing else, it makes for good ammunition.

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