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Young Love

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Young Love

Third graders and Valentine cards

When I was in grade school, on Valentine’s Day, my class and I would exchange cards pretty much at gunpoint (figuratively speaking) along with literally millions of other kids across our fair land. This practice was undoubtedly instigated by some powerful card publisher as hundreds of millions of little sweet and colorful messages of love and tenderness (representing a forest the size of Bonner County) were cursed spit on and dumped into garbage cans on the way home from schools everywhere.

To a third grade boy (as I recall it) handing out love notes to ‘the other side’ who were mostly bigger, tougher, pushier and far more cynical than I, made me openly question the sanctity of our education system.

I tried explaining the ‘Hypocritical Oath’ several times, only to be rewarded hang time after school with the ol’ chalk board scribbling, erasing, then printing legibly and repeating over and over some line I was doomed to violate repeatedly anyways.

But I still had to give out cards,  like they were part of some religious edict or something. “Thou shalt LOVE thy arch nemeses.”

As tough as ‘us boys’ were, and totally unified on this and many other subjects of great import, we could only bow our heads and, moaning inwardly, sign and deliver cards of affection to the enemy.

Girls were my biggest threat! The guys were all my friends, except for the occasional turd, but the girls all seemed to want our heads lined up on the teacher’s desk like some ‘gallery of the damned.’ I also figured out early on that girls wore dresses primarily for freedom of movement when it came time to drive home an opinion or two. 

The fact that they invariably paid attention in class and even did little things to get attention like raising their hands, added nothing in our favor, for teachers will unfairly smile on those who listen to ‘em. My buddies (the Wild Bunch) and I were constantly being called forth to apologize for something we hardly ever started or even came close to finishing.

Needless to say, the act of writing out a valentine to someone you couldn’t stand or even stand up to was simply mind boggling to me and my constituents. It would be like proclaiming your affection for canned peas ‘n’ pearl onions, spinach or that STP of the vegetable kingdom, boiled okra while at some big pot luck where you absolutely knew there’d be some present. 

This exchange program continued unabated until the fifth grade where we had a guy teacher. Literally, his name was Guy and my first teacher to whom I would show honest and absolute respect. His paddle collection hung on display by the door for all to witness and, I swear, you could see little bits of hide on some of ‘em! I learned real discipline from this man and I thank him for it daily.

He took pity on us guys (possibly he was victimized as a young student himself) and pretty much ignored the whole observance. I saved a lot of allowance after than on February the 14ths. I wonder what I spent the savings on?

I didn’t want to be anyone’s sweetie, especially at the ripe old age of eight or nine. Having already been branded ‘a pimple on the ass of humanity,’ as well as a complete waste of milk and Cheerios by two older brothers, my confidence and self esteem lacked the desire to widen the playing field, so to speak. I just wanted to be a macho tough guy and prove I could hold my bladder in a tight situation, like marbles, mumblety-peg, snowball fights or mouthin’ off.

So as I sat at my little desks each year on February 14, under duress, writing in the names of all the warthogs (girls) I had to give cards to, I realized my life’s ultimate calling: writing valentines for all the little guys who are forced to participate in such a thing.

Here are some samples I stumbled upon recently in an old scrapbook of mine that dates back to the late fifties. Let me apologize now for my behavior. And my ol’ man wanted me to be a lawyer! Sheeooot!

Blue is for violets and red is for rose,

The only thing bigger’n yer mouth is yer nose!

Wanna be my valentine?


Roses are red and violets are bluesy

If you were my valentine, I’d surely get woozy!


Violets are blue while roses are red

As fer bein’ your valentine, I’d be better off dead!


You give me the creeps most all of the time

So how’s about bein’ my valentine?


Roses are red and violets are neither

Yer face looks a lot like a Labrador retriever!


Here’s a dime, here’s a nickel

Your face reminds me of an ol’ dill pickle!

Wanna be my sweetie?


While I ponder, weak and weary, the message on this card

I’ve dawned upon a simple theory; ‘cause of you I’m forever marred!

My being forced to give you this, is society gone sincerely amiss

For you really belong in the National Guard!


Won’cha be my valentine, yer such a lovely girl

For if you’ll promise to be mine, I’ll simply have to hurl!


Yer so sweet but yer so stupid

Fer spending yer time on a dude named Cupid!

It’s a serious waste of money and time

For you to be my valentine.

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Author info

Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

Tagged as:

love, Valentines, elementary, growing up

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