Feb. 14, 2002
Being voted the Valentine's Day king in the fifth grade at Jefferson School has been one of the great honors of my life. The beautiful, red-haired Sherry Thomas, who I was crazy about, was the Valentine's Day queen, and we reigned over the lunch period that day in construction-paper crowns.
Of all the holidays, I love Valentine's Day most. Once you're the king of Valentine's Day, you forever after feel a responsibility that everybody should know they're loved. The world can't have enough chocolate kisses and sweet expressions of affection.
My old friend, Dixie, asked me to remember to send her Valentine's Day cards when I left Northern California nearly 20 years ago. Not birthday cards, valentines. What do women want? They want love, to know they are loved.
Men do too, but you won't catch us admitting it. Yesterday when I walked down to my favorite coffeehouse, tiny valentines with names written on them were taped to the metal shelf holding the carafes of fresh-brewed coffee. One had my name on it.
Inside the envelope, Wile E. Coyote carried a sign reading "UR Dynamite!" I swooned.
My favorite Valentine's Day card ever from DC was addressed to "The Man I Love." Me, a man? Loved? Whoooeee.
One night before DC and I got married, we spontaneously started slow-dancing in my living room and I began singing "When I Fall in Love." I don't know what came over me.
Eventually someone appears who sings your song to you.
Ever practical DC asked me to forgo the flowers and candy this Valentine's Day and spend the money on something she needs. She wanted me to have a painting framed, a painting she commissioned an artist to create for me. Only women understand how that counts as a valentine for her.
Sages and songwriters insist that love is more important than anything in the world. God is love. Christianity commands we love one another as God has loved us. Happy is the man who practices virtue to benefit others, Buddhists say. I don't know the Islamic equivalent. I do know it must exist.
We take for granted the part about loving ourselves in spite of so much evidence that we don't.
All you need is love. Love makes the world go 'round. Love is blind.
Many years ago, a red-haired woman I was crazy about -- not Sherry Thomas -- stood me up one Valentine's Day. A dozen red roses and I waited and waited but she never appeared and never phoned.
I kept the roses. Day by day I watched them wilt, watched the petals turn brown and drop to the floor to teach myself a lesson. Maybe that was a masochistic thing to do. It was hard to love myself just then.
Being crazy about someone is not healthy for anyone. Crazy and love are not the same.
A little thing like brown roses couldn't ruin Valentine's Day for me.
I remember that tomorrow is your birthday because it's the day after Valentine's Day. It's one of those round numbers, if I count correctly. Don't worry. It's your parents who are now officially old.
I hear Van Morrison singing:
I've been all around the world
Marching to the beat of a different drum
But just lately I have realized
The best is yet to come.
Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.