Tuesday, February 15, 2005

In retrospect, I should call it "playa theory." Elementary schools everywhere had a sort of anti-love Valentine's day, more or less favoring the kids who weren't exactly winning any beauty pageants. On some level, everyone knew that the "Valentines for everyone or Valentines for no one" mandate was a crock, a pity-play on the part of the teachers. That didn't stop me (and hopefully many others) to treasure the Bart Simpson or Kermit the Frog or Scrooge McDuck proclaiming Platonic love with some kind of pun. Occasionally, people would go all out and make 25 individual cards, attaching a hershey's kiss if they felt racy enough to kiss everyone in class. Therein lay the added benefit of circumventing the dictatorial love structure -- a savvy valentineer could make a little extra effort than the fold-and-cut heart for the Object of Affection. I did. I made a big, florid heart heart for Dylan Watts one year and agonized over what to write on there. My shyness won, of course, and a really ridiculous construction paper monstrosity dwarfed the inane happy-valentine's-day-you-are-really-nice (not those words, but equally lame.) In fact, I usually made my own valentines, either because my folks wouldn't buy the Muppet cards or because I had an ulterior motive.

The store-bought cards confused me after I made my first-ever round of 25 'tines. I had given time to every member of my class, and I got a forum letter back. The impersonality was one thing, but the mass distribution with nothing distinguishing me from the pretty girl, her from the weird boy mystified me. So here's where playa theory comes in. Mass valentines mean one of three things:

1) The sender doesn't care, but wants the candy. This didn't appeal to me, but was probably the most true. Also along these lines is the scattershot theory that sending out 25 valentines ought to yield SOMETHING.
2) The sender actually does love everyone in the class equally, making the same mass-manufactured Daffy Duck a pretty accurate measuring stick for his or her love.
3) The sender knows that there is something about this love thing that is desirable. My elementary school self wasn't so aware of the concept of sex drive, but I had figured out that people want lots of love from lots of people. I wasn't that dim. By way of flimsy, red cardstock, I realized that there is something Machiavellian in love. It's about gaining as much affection as possible at any cost.

In sixth grade, I didn't make valentines, but gave everyone a hershey's kiss instead. In part to satisfy the number ones, in part because of my disgust at the number threes.

I'm happy to say that we've all graduated from that. As well as from the incessant drama of junior high and high school. So let's take this V-day for what its worth and do something free of that sick control. Actually, it's not V-day anymore, which means in 18 hours or so, I should call my dad and wish him a happy birthday. but still. let go of that fucked obligation system.

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