A 5th Grade Tale of Love & Loss

Valentine’s Day is on Friday.

Recently the Daily Post issued this DPchallenge, which got me thinking a little more about my history with this Hallmark holiday.

When I was in elementary school, Valentine’s Day meant dragging my mom to Party City to buy a pack of 30 themed valentines to distribute to the rest of the class. I would stay up late the night before addressing each one individually – spending hours trying to decide which generic greeting best illustrated the intricate subtleties of my relationship to each classmate. After all, who was most deserving of Strawberry Shortcake’s “You’re a BERRY special friend!”? Not just anyfriend, surely.

In 5th grade, this quandary was kicked into high gear, by a boy named Zach Whitaker*. Zach was cute and charming in a way that suggested his ancestry might have been linked with the likes of Casanova or Hugh Grant. He was easily the coolest boy in our class, and his bleached, spiky hair and freckles made me (and the rest of the 5th grade girls) utterly weak at the knees. We could often be seen drooling at the crosswalk as he cruised by on his black Razor scooter. With all this competition, it was imperativethat my valentine to Zach accurately portrayed my undying love for him.

That year my valentines were themed after the movie “A Bug’s Life.” The most romantically-worded option available said “BEE Mine, Valentine!” …A play on words, which, under different circumstances, might have been the perfect choice to adequately sum up my infatuation for Zach. HOW-EV-ER, the premise of the card annoyed me, since the movie “A Bug’s Life” DID NOT HAVE A BEE IN IT. Anyone who has ever seen the movie would know this, and would automatically think this valentine is stupid.

So now I was faced with a pressing dilemma: Do I give Zach the more appropriately romantic card – even if it makes no logical sense? Then I would risk him thinking the card was stupid, just like I did! Or do I give him a different one – albeit less affectionate, but at least cinematically accurate?

In the end, I decided to err on the side of caution. I gave Zach a different card, one that would not raise an eyebrow if he was a fan of “A Bug’s Life,” but which also did nothing to sufficiently communicate my passion for him.

Inevitably, it got lost in the sea of other neutral, platonic-sounding valentines on his desk.

Holly Winters, on the other hand, DID give Zach a romantic valentine. She sauntered up to him with her French-braided pigtails (making me curse my simple, unbraided pony) and placed it tenderly in his open palm. It was “Lion King”-themed, and said something along the lines of “I could say I don’t like you, but then I’d be LION.”

…And Zach asked her to be his girlfriend, right there in front of everybody.

They were our celebrity couple for the rest of the year, together for FOUR WHOLE MONTHS – the elementary school equivalent of forever – and at our 5th grade graduation party at Soak City, they rode the same inner tube down the big waterslide and kissed.

I have spent years replaying this story in my head. That should have been my story, Zach should have been my valentine, and sliding down a giant waterslide with the boy of my dreams should have been my first kiss experience. I could blame the greeting card company, for producing a line of movie-themed valentines without bothering to actually WATCH the movie in question… or I could blame my mother, for never teaching me how to French-braid my hair, which was OBVIOUSLY a factor here…

But in the end, I blame myself. I was afraid that Zach would think I didn’t know my stuff when it came to Pixar movies – and that fear prevented me from taking the leap and asking him to “Bee mine.” So instead of throwing caution to the wind for love, I made the logical, sensible choice. And as a result, Holly got the good first-kiss story – and I’m forever stuck with the story that came four years later, ‘the back of a movie theater watching Shanghai Knights.’

I am a walking parable, children. Learn from me.

*Actual names have been altered… partially to protect the identity of those involved, but also because I think we’re still Facebook friends and if they knew this post was about them that would be way-hay-hay embarrassing.

11 thoughts on “A 5th Grade Tale of Love & Loss

  1. I never taught Stephanie how to French braid either – likely the sole reason she only recently became lucky in love. I love your blogs like Sixlets (my favorite candy)

  2. haha yaaay! honestly like 99% of my elementary school memories involve you in some capacity. I'm sure I even confided in you about this debacle with “Zach.” haha 🙂

  3. I love this because I know who you're talking about also! I certainly remember those days; and the very same Miss “Winters” ruined my 5th grade romances, especially after she kissed my crush at the end-of-the-year party for Mrs. Byers' class. What a prepubescent little floozy! Haha! 🙂

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