Valentine's Day is once again upon us. A lot of people get really gushy around this time of year. There tends to be general excitement about the cards, the candy, the flowers and, if you're a really lucky girl, the jewlery. A lot of people go out for fancy dinners, movies, or some other sort of nice time out with their significant other.
The absolute worst part was the school dance. It was usually labeled "The Semi-Formal." To this day I have no idea what that really means. (It's such a vague term, like business casual. I never know if I'm appropriately dressed. But that's a topic for another blog.) The Semi-Formal was a time to really see how the school was divided into two groups; those who were well into puberty and those of us who were still on the cusp. The kids who were already a raging ball of hormones would dance with their boyfriend/girlfriend and make out in the middle of the gym, not caring who saw them until the chaperones would break up the love fest. The rest of us would stand against the walls, wanting a boy to ask us to dance, but at the same time not wanting to catch boy cooties. Cooties is a very real concern.
I had a crush on a boy in 7th grade. I only told one person about it, my best friend. She swore an oath of secrecy, which lasted about 12 seconds. The next thing I knew she was standing in front of the boy talking to him... about me! She turned back towards me with a pleased smile on her face and trotted over to me. "I told him to ask you to dance because you like him," she said. She was hell-bent on pushing me full force and joining her in the a world of boyfriends. Her parents wouldn't let her date and she needed more people to go out with her boyfriend. "Why..." I stammered, "Why do you hate me?" The boy started towards me and I made a b-line to the girl's bathroom where I hid in a stall and dry-heaved.
Eventually, I came out of the bathroom and the boy did end up asking me to dance. It was the most awkward minute and 22 seconds I have ever experienced and I am grateful that pop songs from the 80s are generally short. I got away from him the second the song ended, said "Thanks for the dance," and, after washing the cooties off my hands (just in case), went to go play checkers with the nerds in the cafeteria until the Semi-Formal was over. Checkers was a relief and it was a great comfort to be around equally socially awkward people who had no interest in being pushed too quickly into the inevitability of boy/girl dancing.
When I saw the bill from the florist later that week I told him never to spend that kind of money on something like that again.
And I'm okay with that.