The weeks prior to Valentine’s Day, my junior high held a flower gram fundraiser.
You could purchase flowers for your friends, and the flowers would be delivered during classes on Valentine’s Day. And of course, the coolest kids accumulated the largest bouquets.
Before I reached the wizened old age of 14, I wanted desperately to be popular. I always had friends, but what I wanted was the prestige of the “in” crowd. And if I couldn’t be in it, I at least wanted to look as if I should be.
In eighth grade, I ordered flowers to be delivered every period of the day. On each of the flowers was a card. Under “To,” I wrote my name. Under “From,” I wrote down different names of friends. Instant popularity, here I come!
The morning of Valentine’s Day, my parents surprised me with a gift: a giant stuffed Elmo. They knew the previous Valentine’s Day had been rough and wanted to give me something to walk the halls with.
When I got to school, I sneaked the Elmo into my locker. Then, once the hallways filled, I reopened my locker.
“Oh, my! Look, everybody! Someone left an Elmo in my locker.”
“Who’s it from?” a classmate asked.
“A secret admirer,” I responded smugly.
“How do you know? Was there a note?”
Drat! I hadn’t thought of that. I grabbed my Elmo and made a run for it.
Elmo was backfiring, but the flower grams were working perfectly. My bouquet was growing as planned until fifth period, when I was delivered a flower that was supposedly from the friend sitting next to me. Drat!
By the end of the school day, I was flying high from my super-successful Valentine’s Day. But 15 minutes before the bell rang, the tides shifted.
My best friend walked in with a bouquet of roses, delivering the last flower grams of the day. I smiled at her, awaiting my final flower. But instead of one, she gave me seven.
My friend smiled. “Everyone in the group got you one. I held them till last period so I could be the one to deliver them. Happy Valentine’s Day!”
I learned an important lesson that Valentine’s Day. Quantify how much you are loved by how many people you can give to. And if you receive a gift, like, say, an Elmo from your parents, feel lucky enough to be loved to admit whom the gift is from — even if it is simply the gift of a rose you sent yourself.