Sorry if you've already read or heard me tell a version of this story. It just seems appropriate at this time of year and that is why I'm re-telling it. But here's why I hate Valentine's Day...and women (JK any women who are reading this! You are all fantastic and I love each and every one of you!).
Natalie Wright was the most beautiful 3rd grader at Windsor Elementary, maybe even the world! If you were a male in the 3rd grade at Windsor in 1992, you only had eyes for Natalie. It just so happens that I (Karl Kowallis) was a male in the 3rd grade at Windsor elementary in 1992.
I feel like Natalie and I had a fairly serious relationship, considering that during almost every recess period since Kindergarten we had tried to give each other bunny ears (this is commonly done by sneaking up behind the person you want to give bunny ears to, and holding two upright fingers behind their head. It really makes them look foolish!). Did I ever talk to her? Of course not!!! But my friends and I would frequently ride our bikes near by her house. And if we ever saw her outside, we'd yell her name really loudly then ride off as fast as we could (Note: Anyone reading this who is thinking this may still be an effective dating technique, you're right! But I caution you to wear shoes when riding the bike. If you don't, there's a possibility that one or more of your toes can get caught in the pedal when you're trying to ride off so quickly, and you may end up falling off your bike in the middle of the street in front of the girl of your dreams right after you've yelled her name at the top of your lungs. It can ruin the effect and also make you look like an idiot. Not that this happened to me or anything...I'm just saying). So yeah, as you can see our relationship had grown pretty serious by the time we were in the 3rd grade. I had a perfect view of Natalie from my desk, and although she never looked back at me or acknowledged me in any way, I knew she was thinking the same thing I was: We were definitely going to get married someday. Well, as the year rolled along, our relationship continued to progress. We both finished in the top 5 in the Halloween costume contest ( I was a ninja and Natalie was a mad scientist). When we gave presentations on famous people, and I dressed up as an astronaut, and everyone thought I was Neil Armstrong, when really I was John Glenn, and I tried to explain it to the class, but no body knew who John Glenn was, she was there to make fun of me along with all the other kids. Things couldn't have been better! Not to mention, Valentine's Day was upon us. I knew this was my chance to really seal the deal with Natalie once and for all.
I devised a fool proof plan to win her heart. First, I had my dad make me a valentine box that would win 1st place in the contest we were having. Those kids who tried to make their valentine boxes on their own had no chance, and winning 1st place would definitely grab Natalie's attention! And the second and final stage of my plan was to give her the normal ninja turtle valentine card that I was giving to everyone else, but instead of just giving her one or two of those little chalk-heart candies, I stuffed her's completely full! Not only that, but I hand selected each candy heart that I put in to make sure that the message was sent ( in those days a misplaced candy heart that said "fax me" on it could be relationship suicide). I considered adding a few cinnamon flavored gummi-lips to her Valentine but I though it might be a little too racy, so I left them out (turned out to be a mistake, but hindsight is 20/20 right?)
Valentine's Day arrived and stage one of my plan was thwarted by a valentine box shaped like a penguin, and another that looked like a computer (I still to this day think that the penguin box should have been dis-qualified. What do penguins have to do with Valentine's day? Hey, kid, I think you got Valentine's Day and Christmas mixed up! There was no competing with the computer though). My choo-choo train valentine box (built 100% by my father) took only 3rd place. But I still felt like 3rd might be enough to at least gain a little of Natalie's interest. Then we passed out our Valentines and at that point only time would tell if stage two of my plan was successful.
Kids began opening their Valentines eagerly. I just sat back and waited. But then something happened that I had not planned for. Some of the other guys in the class had already opened the Valentines they had gotten from Natalie. And they were proudly showing each other that Natalie had hand written "I love you" in each of their Valentines. At first a wave of insane jealously hit me, but then, as more guys congregated to boast about the Valentine Natalie had given them, I realized that she had hand written "I love you" in ALL of the guys Valentines! My heart lifted as I started to frantically search through my pile of Valentines. I was about to get a hand written note from Natalie Wright! And not only that, it was going to be a hand-written note telling me that she LOVED me! I couldn't contain my excitement, to the point that my teacher (Mrs. Mellor) had to ask me if I was alright and told me I needed to calm down. I believe I may have been making some sort of gurgling noise as well as banging the train valentine box up and down on the desk as I was searching for Natalie's valentine. And then there it was in front of me. "To: Karl From: Natalie" My heart skipped a beat. Pink and Purple heart-shaped stickers decorated the envelope. I tore it open. I didn't even bother to eat the candy inside. It was a care bears valentine, and one of the bears on the front was shooting a rainbow out of it's belly. I unfolded it. And there, scrawled in Natalie's 3rd grade penmanship, was a hand written note just for me. "Karl, I do NOT love you." The "NOT" was also circled and underlined to make sure that I fully understood her message (message received Natalie...message received).
I wanted to disappear. Or to die. I felt like instead of a care bear shooting a rainbow at me out of its belly, it had shot something else. Something terrible. Like a bunch of unpaid bills or tax documents or something. Nothing could have prepared a 3rd grader for the range of emotions that were rolling through me. My life was officially over. I went home that day and in a fit of rage, tore apart my 3rd prize winning Valentine box. All of my dad's hard work destroyed, just like my heart.
That, my friends, is why I hate Valentine's Day.