Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Hell

Tonight on the weekend-eve of Saint Valentine’s, I want to discuss love and hate, and indeed the very definition of hell on earth.

This is a story involving kids; they are just so mean aren’t they? This is not a condemnation, but think about this, dear parents, these are your kids who are mean, and for other parents who've had to console your child, you will know of what I speak.

Someone I love dearly recounted a story to me, you know, the kind of story you wish you’d never heard. If you don’t want to be moved or revolted, stop reading now.

I’m warning you. Stop now, and have a nice life.


For those of you who stayed on, here’s the story (and another warning).

Think back to grade 5, maybe 6. There’s a girl in class, a little bit round, but nothing over the top mind you. A little bit of a shy squirt she’s happy go lucky but remains insecure deep down.

On Valentine’s Day there’s a big to-do at school and a contest. Oh joy of joys. The prize is a big velvet Valentine’s Heart box with a mess of chocolates inside.

Guess who wins? It’s just so awesome, our little girl had never won a thing in her short life, was never paid much attention, well, other than the occasional ribbing.

She is overjoyed, jumping right up in class, skipping to the front her eyes wide in overwhelming anticipation! The box is so very beautiful, bright red and soft with a bright shiny bow. Her heart is filled to bursting with joy!

The teacher says: “you must share with the class.”

Her little heart skips a beat, but that’s ok, it’s a fairly big box. She’s been taught to share. Her heart is still pounding with wonderment, unabated.

She passes her winnings to the first “friend”, and the box goes around the room dutifully.

It finally comes back to her.

(You know what’s coming don’t you? You can still stop reading.)

Her heart sinks. But the box is not quite empty, there may something left.

A dash of hope?

There’s a half-eaten piece, with a fair amount of spit on it.

There’s also snot spread around on the box and boogers inside.

And nothing else.

Well, there is something else: there is pain, pure, unadulterated, blinding, life-altering pain.

The little girl cries.

She cries every tear in her tiny infant soul.

She cries every tear in her tiny crushed heart.

And that, my friends, is the definition of hell.

Even some 35 years later, the pain returns every year at around the same date, just as intensely as that day.

Ah, but our adult mind will say: “children can be so cruel,” and dismiss it as a fact of life, “bah, she’ll get over it”, “she’ll learn to live with it”, “she’ll forget.”

But for that little girl whom I love so dearly, it’s not a “fact of life”, she will never get over it, and it will never be forgotten. She doesn’t cry any more, but tears do well up. She doesn’t hold ill-will towards her classmates, but the wound on her heart still smarts. It cannot be dismissed, although she may have it forgiven long ago.

For my own part, every year I try my level best not to succumb to a murderous rage.

This year I decided to write about it.

Oh, yeah… and a Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to all.

May we all share the love.