It’s February 13, 1993. I’m 19 and finally ready to acknowledge the crush I have on that Sigma Alpha Epsilon boy I’ve been talking to. We’ve been on a few dates, had long late night phone calls, met up at bourbon-soaked parties…clearly, things are going well. I don’t yet know about his long-term girlfriend or the furious embarrassment I’ll endure when I find out about her later that spring, so at this particular moment, all systems are “go.”
I bum a ride from a friend, and together we head to that shining beacon of light we small-town Danville, KY, Centre College students call “Walmart” to hit the candy and card aisles as hard as we can. I buy lovely amounts of chocolate—some for me, some for the boy—and pour his share into a glass jar I’ve tied with a festive curl of red silk ribbon. Pièce de résistance: the painting of his name across the front of the jar, followed by the spraying of perfume so I can wave his Valentine’s Day card through the falling mist. (Oh, le sigh.)
On my way to cheerleading practice, I stop by the campus post office and hand my gift (and all my pride) to the postmistress. She looks at the name on the jar and raises an eyebrow in interest. “You don’t say…” she says and smiles knowingly as I wave goodbye.
I spend the next 24 hours in fits and knots of anxiety. The phone rings, and it’s never for me. My campus mailbox is empty at dinner time. I cover my head with my pillow and commence the practiced art of indignant sulking.
At 9 or so, the telephone rings, and it’s the boy. My roommate winks and discretely leaves the room.
“Did you send me a jar of chocolates today through campus mail?” the boy asks without saying hello. He sounds like he’s smiling, but I can’t quite tell for sure.
“Maaaybe,” I say. I hope I sound coy enough to disguise my dripping, crawling, aching swirl of nervousness.
“Did you also maaaybe spray that chocolate with perfume?” he asks.
There is only the slightest pause. And then, at least five males erupt with laughter on the other end of the phone line. I picture them all, yucking it up at my mortified expense.
“Whatever scent you wear,” I barely hear him say, “It tastes a lot like bug spray.”
And so: Valentine’s Day was not always my favorite holiday. There are many, many disastrous stories akin to the one above. You’ll either have to serve me a few shots of tequila and cross your fingers or wait until next Valentine’s Day to hear more.
In the meantime, let’s just leave it with this public service announcement: Don’t be an idiot on Valentine’s Day. It’s only a few short days away, so be sure to come to the breakfast table prepared to woo your sweetheart. It’s up to you to make sure he or she is pleased (rather than poisoned by 1990’s-era-“Rapture”-by-Victoria’s-Secret-coated chocolates) on Monday morning.
CNN.com posted Time Magazine’s “What NOT to Give” guide, and for the sake of preserving your own pride and embarrassment, I’m posting it now.
(Personally, I’d be fine with a chocolate Smart Car. The Snuggie-sutra is good for a laugh, but that’s probably all. Too much cotton-blend.)
Now, tell me: What’s the worst Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever given or received? Sound off in the comments below. Let the embarrassing stories fly!
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