My Worst Valentine’s Day Ever . . .
It happened in high school, of course. When is Valentine’s Day ever fun in high school? But this particular year, I was excited. It would be my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend. Unfortunately, by this time in our relationship, Morris Parker* and I had been on-again, off-again for several months.
But it was Valentine’s Day! And I had dreamy dreams of what a wonderful day it would be since I had a boyfriend!
Morris and I walked to school together. So, I was excited to see him carrying something red and pink in his hands as I turned the corner to meet him. He greeted me in that rough, I-really-don’t-want-to-be-your-boyfriend-anymore way that I ignored because if I ignored it, he would be my forever boyfriend. He handed me one of those Walgreen’s heart-shaped boxes of assorted, teeth-crushing, dried out chocolates.
And as he did, he said, “I only did this because I knew you expected me to.”
[Stunned shock! Horrified faces! I KNOW. How horrible! He was a total jerk!]
Believe it or not, it got worse from there. The long walk to school was tense and silent. I’d like to believe that I threw away that nasty box of grudgingly-given chocolates as soon as Morris and I parted for class. But I didn’t. I held on to them for dear life, otherwise I had to face the truth that my boyfriend was a turd.
In second period (home room) the cheerleaders delivered pink, long-stemmed roses to lucky girls in the class. I’m certain I hoped . . .a little. But then, they gave one of those roses to Marge Star.** And the rose was from Morris.
[OMG!!! Gasp!!! He really WAS a turd!!!] Yes. I know this.
My face burned hot with rage and I’m sure I cried. This was yet another humiliation amongst many that Morris had put me through. I was devastated.
I don’t remember anything else about that Valentine’s Day. I probably refused to speak to Morris or I told him off, and he probably laughed and shrugged it off like he always did. I’m sure I walked home alone in tears and went straight to my room and slammed my door and bawled. I’m sure my mom came to comfort me. But you can’t comfort broken-hearted teenaged girls.
What’s worse than a Valentine’s Day alone? A Valentine’s Day when you discover you’ve been rejected publicly and unbearably. A Valentine’s Day when your girlish dreams of romance get thrown into the trash like inedible chocolates. A Valentine’s Day you remember for the rest of your life because of how completely devastating it was.
I’m sure mine isn’t the only Valentine’s Day horror story, nor is it likely the worst. But it is indelibly etched in my memory. Yet, I’ve turned it into something useful. When I teach on the Psalms and discuss hymns (songs of praise), I ask the class why we praise God. We discuss this for a bit, and then I use this story to illustrate how many of us are just like Morris when we offer God praise. We know God commands it. So we do it, grudgingly, and as we praise, we also say under our breath, “I’m only doing this because I know You expect me to.” And I suspect God drops such praises in the great garbage can in the sky; because God doesn’t accept perfunctory worship.
And girls shouldn’t put up with perfunctory “love.”
I graduated from high school, still somewhat in love with Morris (or the idea of Morris). But going off to college cured me of him. I guess distance sometimes helps you break connections that are really unhealthy.
A year or so ago I got a Facebook friend request from Morris Parker.
I clicked ignore.
*Not his real name. Were there really any people named “Morris” in high school anyway?
**Not her real name. There definitely were not any “Marges” in high school.