Over the years I have had my share of flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day, which were very much appreciated. However, what stands out for me about Valentine’s Day goes back many years to the dilemmas, decisions and drama around the annual exchange of Valentine cards when I was an elementary school student at Thunder Bay’s St. James School.
My mom would buy a multi-card package or two of the ‘cutesy’ odd-shaped Valentine cards for me to deposit in the ‘mailbox’ the teacher would set up for us to send cards to classmates. Hardest part for me was deciding who gets which card. They weren’t easy decisions.
For example, some cards had goofy ‘love’ messages—who to send them to? Well, definitely a dilemma that called for priorization and strategy. Those mushy goofy cards went to the group of ‘best friends.’ What cards to send to the guys I liked, maybe even had a ‘crush’ on? The card couldn’t send out the message of being obviously interested, so I’d pick out especially nice but ‘subtle’ cards for them. And the not-so-cool cards would go to those that I knew less well or didn’t have much to do with. The goal was to give everyone a card. But sometimes I ran out of cards and then had to figure out who wasn’t going to get a card and hope they didn’t notice (but of course, I’d notice who didn’t send me a card!). Decisions, decisions.
When the day came to hand out the Valentine’s Day cards, the teacher would bring out the ‘mailbox’ and the calling out of the card recipients would begin. Drama was high. What if you only got a few cards or maybe none? What if the classmates you sent cards to didn’t send you one? Were you too obvious sending that special card to that particular guy you liked? And then would come that moment, when you realize that you did get a reciprocal card from ‘that’ guy, but then you try to look cool as you wonder if that meant he thought…well, you get the idea.
Looking back now brings a chuckle and kind of nostalgia about those early days of Valentine’s Day drama!
A Date that Became a Fracas in Paracas
By Walter Rhein
I was working for a web page in Lima, Peru when I had to go on assignment to Lunahuana. I called up my girlfriend at the time, and asked her to come along. We were expecting a nice little day trip, but what we ended up with can only be described as a fracas in Paracas.
Our first mistake came when we missed our stop. Lunahuana is a couple hours south of Lima, but we fell asleep on the bus and ended up in the coastal town of Paracas. The countryside becomes pretty bleak in that part of Peru, and it’s always unnerving when you’re standing on the wrong stretch of road in the middle of a desert with no transportation in sight.
Luckily, we managed to wave down a taxi. The driver turned out to be an affable man called Peluca, which is Spanish for wig. He agreed to take us back out to the central highway to look for a bus.
We arrived at the Panamericana highway and Peluca gasped, “There’s one!” We looked where he was pointing to see a bus hurtling along at full speed. My girlfriend sprinted to flag them down and I paid Peluca, thanking him profusely. There were a few moments of chaos as the bus ground to a halt and we ran a couple hundred yards to get onboard.
Things were looking up when we took our seats when my girlfriend let out a tormented cry. “We have to go back!”
“I left my purse in the taxi!”
Nobody on the bus was happy as we sprinted back towards the front and begged to be let off. We ran back but Peluca was already gone.
Losing a purse is always a pit in the stomach moment and my girlfriend was lamenting the expense of getting all her identification cards replaced.
“Paracas isn’t that big, maybe we can find the guy.”
We stumbled across a small collection of buildings where the local drivers conglomerated.
“Do any of you guys know Peluca?”
“Sure, he’s right down there.”
Hope soared as we headed over to Peluca, only to discover he wasn’t the right guy.
“You’re not Peluca, the guy we knew drove a gray taxi.”
“Oh, you’re thinking of my brother, I’m Peluca Dos.”
We explained the situation and Peluca Dos got on the phone with Peluca. “Do you have a handbag that some passengers left?” From the other end of the line we could hear, “Yes, you can’t have it.”
“No,” Peluca Dos said, “They came back, can we meet and get them their bag?”
We eventually got the bag, took the contact information from the Peluca brothers, and made our way to Lunahuana. I ended up writing two stories. One was about the event I was supposed to cover, the other was about the good deed done by the two brothers in Paracas. I’ve been giving their email away to people asking for recommendations for years.
And I married the girl.