First of all guys, no, you didn’t miss Jessica’s final guest posts. I found out on Friday that Year End has been extended for me a bit longer this year. Luckily, I have rationed her posts out well enough (yea, let’s pretend that was intentional and not laziness) and they should carry me through to the end of the month. But I do have to come up with just one to fill in this week. And so here is my obligatory Valentine’s Day post.
I actually started writing this post last year, but then Johnny jumped in with something amazing and so I decided to save the bones of this for another time. This is that time, guys. Behold: the lamest shit I’ve ever done.
Do you remember what I looked like and how I was handling flirting and my overall interactions with boys in sixth grade? Here’s a quick refresher. Cliff’s notes: I was not good at these things. And not much had changed in seventh grade.
Here are a list of things I used to say out loud in seventh grade:
- I’ll have my own show, like Blossom, by the end of the year. I just need my head shots first and to audition for someone, but it’s pretty much a done deal.
- I played Greta in The Sound of Music. No, it was not made before I was born. You don’t even know what you’re talking about. Watch it again. It’s obviously me.
- My pony is at my other house. You’ve never been there. It’s in another town.
- Whatever, I never had a crush on Arthur Kady. Stop telling lies about me before Victor hears you.
Let’s not pretend we’re surprised by Seventh Grade Mel. Seventh Grade Mel was pretty much what you’d expect. So what follows here should be no surprise. Our story starts with an episode of Cheers. A quick search tells me this was season 7, episode 20. In this episode, Carla sends herself flowers. You see where this is going? It seems like a terrible idea. I know. But it was a terrible idea that also got me flowers. And that was all it took. Because you know what was keeping Victor from falling in love with me? He obviously just had no idea that I was desired by many (I wasn’t). So all he needed was to see me as a commodity in high demand and which might not be available, and he would be helpless but to love me.* So, obviously, I needed to get flowers. At school. In the middle of class. So I did what any self respecting 13 year old would do. I schemed and stole.
Let’s start with the scheming. It started with a phone call to the florist to inquire about the total cost (don’t forget tax and delivery) for a dozen white carnations. This phone call was completed in my fake boy voice. I’m sure it was very convincing. I know it’s been 22 years, but I remember that I had to come up with forty two dollars and change. I had a little over thirty in babysitting money saved up. And so I became a thief, at the tender age of thirteen, when I stole twelve-ish dollars in change from my father’s coin jar.**
After the scheming and stealing came the drawing. I sat down and diligently wrote out my class schedule, including the times of each class and the classroom number, and included a map of the school so the delivery would go off without a hitch. (Please remember we’re talking about a thirteen year old. A thirteen year old, drawing a map of her school so she can have the flowers that she covertly procured for herself with stolen funds delivered in front of a crowd. It’s hard not to hate myself.) After the scheming, stealing, plotting, and drawing were complete, all that was left was one last step: I had to order and pay for the flowers without anyone at the flower shop knowing I had ordered the flowers for myself. I still had an ounce of pride, and it was reserved for the opinion of the stranger working the register at the flower shop.
There are a lot of things I miss about my hometown, but one of the things that consistently tops that list is the little group of shops at the end of my street. There was an ice cream shop and a flower/gift shop in that cluster of stores, and that small strip of real estate is one of the primary locations of my dreams to this day. Sometimes there is a weird knife shop where the dance studio used to be and the door is locked even though I am banging on the door and begging them to let me in to buy a sword. Sometimes I cannot ride my bike fast enough to the deli where I will be able to hide from the zombies. Sometimes I’m giving a very important speech at the liquor store and I can’t find an empty spot in the parking lot. But it’s always there as the back drop for whatever strange dream I find myself in. For better or worse, that little shopping center is part of my brain forever. Probably because of shit like this.
When I walked into the flower shop two days before Valentine’s Day to drop the package (neatly wrapped and labeled in an envelope, secured multiple times over with masking tape so the coins wouldn’t fall out) I was mortified. Seemingly every single kid in town was in there, standing in line to buy candies and cards for (I assume) other people. Not for themselves. And there I was, trying to covertly buy flowers for myself. It occurred briefly to me that by spending all of my money on my fake flowers, I would have no money left to make purchases for anyone else. Guess how many fucks I had to give. Did you guess none? Good job. I gave none fucks. Always the master of stealth, I wandered around the store talking to every single person who looked remotely familiar to me, dropping such gems as “oh, hey, buying a Valentine for someone? Not me. I’m waiting for someone. Someone told me to wait for them here. Just waiting for someone, that’s all.” And everyone gave me that “oh god, why does she always talk?” look that I didn’t quite learn to interpret until my late twenties.
After wandering around for better than twenty minutes and spreading the story of my secret rendezvous with SOMEONE, I finally saw my opening. I cruised past the register which was, momentarily, unattended and dropped my envelope alongside the register. It thumped and then disappeared from sight. Like completely out of sight. Like stuck between the register and the counter and nobody would ever see it or send my flowers and I stole from my dad for NOTHING out of sight. And that’s how it happened that the cashier emerged from the back to see my hand stretched between the register and the wall. Our eyes locked, and then I pulled out the envelope, dropped it on the counter, and ran. I am so fucking smooth.
On Valentine’s Day, I sat with absolutely unbearable anticipation through each class. When would they get there? Would they show up during a class that I actually had with Victor, or would he have to hear about it through word of mouth? Obviously EVERYONE would be talking about my flowers, so he was sure to hear. And so, when the final bell rang at the end of the day and I still had no flowers, I sulked home, ate a sleeve of frozen Thin Mints, and muttered about hating things. That is, until the doorbell rang. And there they were. My flowers. Delivered to my house at 4:00 PM, where nobody else was there to see them. I signed for them, put them in a vase, and then showed them off to my parents when they got home. (The card, which I thought long and hard about, read “Melissa. I love you. Love, Your Secret Admirer.” Yes. Because that’s what 13-year-old boys say, Melissa. Foolproof.) I have always assumed that my parents knew I sent them to myself and just didn’t have the heart to let on. It’s okay, guys. You can tell me now. I have kids. I totally get that “I love my kids/holy shit my kids are idiots” thing now.
Wondering what happened with Victor? Well, actually, we dated for two whole weeks in eighth grade. I’m proud to announce that I broke up with him because he was too handsy, and I made a scene in the hallway the day after we broke up. (By “made a scene,” I mean that he tried to kiss me because apparently when I broke up with him over the phone the night before he didn’t hear me, so I ducked to the side, tripped a little, and said “OH MY GOD, VICTOR. I BROKE UP WITH YOU. GOD,” and then rushed down the hallway trying to hide the fact that I tore my totally awesome Kelly Taylor-inspired messenger bag as I stormed off.) And while all of the above is ridiculous, I spent the two weeks after that Valentine’s Day making sure I showed the card from my secret admirer to EVERYONE, so Victor probably did hear about those flowers. And maybe, just maybe, that damned scheme worked.***
Happy Valentine’s Day, guys. Whether you think this is a Hallmark holiday and posted a rant to that effect on Facebook this morning or you adore today and it’s celebration of love, I hope you know that someone somewhere wants nothing more than to send you a dozen white carnations and tell you how loved you are.
* Look at that phrasing. Francine Pascal inspired that sort of “thinking of myself as an object and not a person” attitude, and you know it.
** I’m sorry, Dad. I was a misguided kid. I love you. Thank you for the flowers. By my calculations, about 28% of them were from you. You really are the best.
***Several years later (IN TENTH GRADE) I was still talking about these flowers like they were some amazing gesture from a mysterious gentleman who never mustered up the courage to reveal himself . A friend who later became a boyfriend confessed to sending them. He confessed to sending me the flowers I know damn well to have sent to myself. I didn’t tell him what a liar he was. Honestly, how could I come out of that conversation on top?