Please Be Mine

The way Mrs. Stevens handled this day was to first ask the boys to put their heads down while the girls skipped around the room, depositing white envelopes on desks. Then it was our turn. I’m pretty sure I made little flowers out of the i’s and l’s on the names of the boys I liked or the girls who were my friends. It was okay for a girl to openly give another girl a card. Because in grammar school, Valentine’s Day was more about friendships. I don’t, however, remember boys giving other boys cards. Historically, and at all ages, we are certainly more enlightened.
Case in point, and the reason I remember Mrs. Stevens’ 4th-grade Valentine’s Day in more detail, is because this is the year I lifted my head to find a card with my name spelled out with little hairs sprouting from each letter. I was, er, particularly hirsute as a child, and one of the boys not only had the audacity to craft this cruel cursive attack, but sign his name as well.


I digress. Until last year, those little Valentine’s Day cutout cards had been my only measure of popularity, until Facebook. Listen, this isn’t my first day on earth. I know a lot of friend-ing is about collecting, about self-esteem and self-satisfaction. Most of my Fb friends have more than 500 pals while I remained at a woeful 189, which I was okay with until two weeks ago when I saw my number drop…by one.

I scrolled up and down my list, studying it with the same intensity needed to find a dropped earring back. And then I made the ugly discovery: The woman who’s been dating our best friend was gone. I hadn’t responded with enough sympathy, it seems, when she needed to vent about their relationship. And her response was to cut me off cyberly. I made up that word.

It was worse than not putting a card on my desk; it was as if she’d lain one down, re-evaluated me, then snatched it back. I masked my hurt in incredulity then mockery. “She’s acting like a child,” I complained to my husband the other night. It took a nanosecond to realize the irony.

She and I are always going to be nine years old. I imagine we’re in good company. It was a time when we were discovering how our peers perceived and judged us. Something we still consider – and some of us worry about – day to day. It’s a big suitcase we never unpack. However, I no longer have to figure out creative ways to hide the area between the tops of my knee socks and the bottom of my hem.


As Predictable as the Weather

Didn't they say "sunny and unseasonably warm"?

Most everything you read in monthly magazines has been written a couple months earlier; but dtown has a nice, comfortable “closing” date, and I don’t need to get this column in till mid-month. But stuck in the house once again after last night’s ice storm, listening to the sound of my husband chopping away at a trench for the fuel deliveryman – we are dangerously close to being Code Blue due to both of us overlooking the plummeting level in the sight glass – I thought I’d write this one today.

…Which is Groundhog Day. And by now, at 8:19 am, we know that Punxsatawney Phil did not see his shadow, which means that spring will arrive early. I certainly am hoping Phil’s prognosticating acumen is far more accurate than those weather predictors of the human ilk, who warned of 5 to 8 inches the other night – and we woke to 20. My grandmother used to say, “If you want to know the weather, stick your head out the window.”

When I lived in New York City, one of our local stations – and if memory serves, it was NBC Channel 4 with their Live Doppler Radar – ran tickers at the bottom of the screen with moment-by-moment updates as to when a storm would hit your street. The Cloisters – 7:05………..…Broadway and 125th St. – 7:09……………309 East 89th St., 1B (the apartment in the back) – 7:11. To check, I would stick my head out the window.

You probably didn’t realize this, but the weather report is the number-one reason people tune in to the news, and it’s always on at the end. Oh, they may tease you earlier with, “When we come back, more on the Apocalyptic Tsunami heading our way,” but that’s just to keep you on the couch during the commercials for which advertisers are paying lots of money.

Weather forecasting is like furniture delivery: They tell their customers about when they’ll be there, but no one really expects them to keep their word. And still we tip them, further rewarding poor service. I recall the Blizzard of ’96, which dumped more than two feet on Manhattan. One of the local tabloids did a tale-of-the-tape on the city’s top TV celebrity forecasters. Below their glamorous and debonair headshots the paper had printed their way-into-the-six-figure salaries, followed by their percentages of accuracy so far that season. Let me just say that in my next life, I want to be a celebrity TV weathercaster. You get a wardrobe allowance, great seats at posh restaurants without a reservation – and you don’t have to be particularly reliable at your job.

I hear our snowblower gurgling through the slush. May this column find you wearing a nice cotton sweatshirt, nursing a cappuccino outside Saxbys.