When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a teacher I’ll call Mr. P. We had him for French II, but we never were required to learn French. He was from an island country, but I don’t remember which one—I only remember his cool accent. He was really into Gargantua and Panagruel by Rabelais, so we would take turns reading it in French. I had no idea what I was reading, but I had already gotten the gist of what how to pronounce the string of vowels and to ignore the x’s, etc., at the end of the words, so I was sounding pretty native pretty early in the year. I had no idea what the f**ck I was saying, though. We liked Mr. P. because he was really easygoing and unusual. He wore pastel-colored suits that he made himself that had Nehru collars. And he was really animated, especially when he’d paraphrase his favorite quote from G&P: “Drink! Drink for the thirst to come!” He’d put his whole body into it.

Anyway, on Valentine’s Day, he started talking about cards and picked me out,  flat-out asking me if I’d gotten a valentine. What is so perplexing about that day is that I wasn’t mortified. Why wasn’t I , since I hadn’t gotten any cards and didn’t expect to? The only thing that probably helped is that I’d recently broken up with someone, so I guess I wasn’t too sensitive about not having a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day, since I’d learned I was able to, for some reason, get a boyfriend. So when I told him I didn’t get a valentine, he said in his whatever accent “Clowdia, Clowdia, here is a valentine for you!” and swooped over and gave me a big red heart that said To Mr. P.: Happy Valentine’s Day from your French I Class. It had a velvety nap to it. I know if I went through some boxes I could find it.

Why do I still have it? Why wasn’t I embarrassed? I guess in the fun atmosphere of that class, that valentine was a celebration of the holiday for me. I did get an actual card, albeit not in a Hallmark kind of way, so it counted as getting a valentine!

Friday I attended a committee meeting at work. One of the members, a very fun and considerate person, gave each of us a gift bag for Valentine’s Day.

We all thanked her, but I haven’t even looked into mine yet.

I’m not in a couple this Valentine’s Day, either. So tomorrow, I’m going to open that bag, and that gift is going to count!

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