I remember celebrating Valentine’s Day in third grade. Everyone brought a box that was wrapped in plain paper and had a hole in the top. Your classmates would put Valentines in your box and I don’t think we opened them until we got home.
They were pretty simple. A picture of a puppy, clown or cat with some message like “Be my Valentine.”
Sometime we would get heart-shaped chocolates or those little candy hearts with a two-word message like “Be Mine.”
Quite frankly, I don’t think we thought much about romance in third grade. Girls had cooties, which could only be prevented by a cootie shot. Cootie shots were given with an ink pen. “Circle circle dot dot, now you’ve got a cootie shot,” was the little chant. According to the Center for Cootie Control, they have been completely eliminated. I think they went out about the same time as marbles. If you know what a shooter, a cat’s-eye or a bumblebee is, you are over a certain age and your cootie shot is up to date.
Today in the grown up world it is much more expensive. A survey indicated that most people last year spent about $162 on their loved one.
If I thought somebody was going to spend $162 on me for Valentine’s Day, it would affect my heart. It would beat faster and my blood pressure would go up.
I’ve asked this question before, but it bears repeating: Why should we devote one day per year to love?
First of all, it’s not absolutely clear who the real St. Valentine is. If this had been the game show, “To Tell The Truth,” two out of three contestants may have stood up.
There may have been as many as 11 men who were saints named Valentine.
One of the Valentines ran a garage and gave his wife an oil change to express his love. According to legend, she ran over him with the car in what has been called the Valentine’s Day massacre.
I don’t know if it counts as a Valentine’s Day present, but I put a new sink in the laundry room. If you’d like to buy the old one, I’ll make you a good deal and throw in a box of bandages.
Speaking of martyrs, nearly all of the saints named Valentine were martyred. This is the reason I hung up my Cupid’s bow and quiver of arrows years ago.
I looked on the internet as to what some things will cost you this year. A dozen red roses delivered will set you back somewhere between $30 and $75. That depends on if you have them by an overnight delivery company or a guy in a florist van.
Those little candies that used to have generic messages can now be customized for somewhere between $10 and $20.
A pretty good size bag of generic hearts will set you back about $5.
Some company has adopted the code of the text message crowd. You can get little hearts with messages like QT Pie, UR Hot and Crazy 4U. Do not put those in a candy dish on your desk.
If you are brave enough, or your loved one appreciates a good deal, wait until Saturday, Feb. 15, to buy your Valentine’s Day smorgasbord. Most of the merchandise, including flowers, will be half-price and you can even afford to buy fancy brand-named candy.
As for me, I think I’ll just put out my Valentine Box and see what happens.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.