Written By Galen White
This time of year a young man’s fancy turns to romance. At least, that’s what they say. And I ain’t got an inklin’ as to who “they” are. Shuckin’s! I’m still tryin’ to figure out what the heck a fancy is.
Now, I do have my suspicions, mind you; after all, I am a male and I was young once. Of course, that was a long time ago, but age really ain’t got a whole lot to do with it. A pretty lady can still turn my head. I do, however, remember very well chasin’ the good lookin’ girls of Athens, Lisbon, Haynesville, Gibsland, Arcadia, Minden, and Homer. Even chased a few who lived out in the country like myself. And if’n I’d had more money for gasoline, I woulda taken in Dubach, Bernice, Ruston, and even Emerson and Magnolia, Arkansas in my chase as well.
You know, it’s true I have some very fond memories of those days; memories that actually go all the way back to my very first years at Athens High School. You may wonder how I can remember things that happened so long ago when I can’t tell you what I had for supper last night! Well, that’s a good question: one with which I’ve struggled for some time now. Still ain’t go a clue as to the answer!
Anyway and back in my formative years, I celebrated Valentine’s Day with both open and hidden excitement. I was openly excited ’cause it meant my class would have a Valentine’s Day party, and a party meant no studyin’ as well as something to eat. Candy hearts, cupcakes, Nehi belly washers, chips, and …, ‘scuse me? Oh, a Nehi belly washer is a soda pop. Or, a coke, which is what everyone in the South calls any type of soda pop.
In addition to all the sweets, everyone gave and everyone received a Valentine’s Day card. Parents and teachers both insisted that no one was left out of the exchange and there would be not hurt feelings.
You may remember wrappin’ an ol’ cigar box with colored paper, gluin’ a bow or ribbon on it, cuttin’ a slot in the box top, and puttin’ all your cards in that box. The cards were simple in construction: a single, but colorful, flat card about three inches tall by a couple wide, with simple verses printed thereon. “Be my Valentine”, “You should be mine”, or “I’m sweet on you”, are just samples of a few of the verses.
On course, every now and then there’d be a card that may say somethin’ about love. You know; like “I love you!” Now, no decent first or second grade young man would give a card like that to a girl. At that age, us boys didn’t want any cooties, so we avoided girls. At least, that’s what we wanted everyone to think.
Me, on the other hand, had this sneakin’ suspicion that girls weren’t as bad as I’d been led to believe. In fact, I thought several of them were right good lookin’ and …., well, sweet! And to those particular girls, I’d give the mushy Valentine’s Day cards to. I sure as heck wasn’t gonna give it to a BOY!!! And if’n anyone wanted to poke fun at me for givin’ it to a girl, I had a great excuse. I’d tell ’em my mom did it.
When confronted, I’d act all mortified and cry out. “What??? The card said THAT??? My mom did it! She helped me last night ’cause I forgot and it was already past bedtime and I hadn’t finished my ‘rithmatic and I still had to slop the hogs and water the chickens and bring in some firewood and take a bath and supper was gettin’ cold and my dog had treed a skunk and I had to get her away ‘fore she got sprayed! I’ll never forgive my mom for that!”
Well, they may have doubted me until that last statement. When I said I’d never forgive her for it, they knew I was seriously embarrassed and upset ’cause everyone loved their mom and wouldn’t dare speak such a horrific statement.
So, the problem wasn’t with the other boys, it was tryin’ to fig’er out what the girl who received the mushy card thought. For a red blooded, ol’ country boy like me, tryin’ to read the emotions of a first or second grade girl’s feelin’s was like me tryin’ to read Chinese writin’ today. Come to think about it, me tryin’ to read any lady’s feelin’s is like trying to read Chinese writin’, regardless their age! You’d think I woulda gotten smarter with age, wouldn’t you!
Regardless, maybe one of these days us men will figure it out. Of course, if we do, you ladies can no longer tell us “You ain’t got a clue as to how I feel!” I guess it might be better we don’t really know. That way and when our fancy turns to romance, we’ll keep tryin’ to please you as best we can.
Hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.