So Long, and Thanks for all the Valentines


During the early 1990s I had a lady friend with whom I was close enough to
exclusively share a few years of my life.  Interior decorator lady who grew up in the same town and entirely different social strata than I did.

I first remember noticing her in the fifth grade, and from then until the time I left that burg as a high-schooler, I don’t believe she ever spoke to me.  She was upper crust and I was somewhere down there below the lower crust.

Anyway, 30-35 years later we spent a few years together seeing one another every day and night.  She had a lot of strong points, beautiful woman, smart, and well-intentioned.  I’d mentioned to her once that it used to really hurt my feelings in school on Valentine’s Day.  I hated it, all those kids getting valentines from one another and I didn’t get any.

Valentine’s Day, maybe 1993, ’94, I headed down to her house after work.  Came in the door and fell over.   She’d decorated the house with valentines, fed me a piece of cake shaped like a valentine, and handed me a box shaped like a valentine wrapped. Made me open it.

Crazy woman had filled that box with old-timey valentines like were around when we were kids…… full, chock full, that box was, with valentines claiming to be from kids we went to school with, all addressed to the kid I used to be …… the lower-class scum of yesteryear. Crazy stuff.

I’ve cried maybe twice during my adulthood, but for some reason I was having to hold back tears on that one. But that isn’t why I’m writing this blog entry.  I just wanted to preface the next thing with that one, so you’d understand she wasn’t a bad person underneath everything.

Anyway, she had two habits I found particularly irritating, aside from being miserable and liking to spread it around, toward the end of our relationship. She pronounced the “G” in guacamole. “Gwakamohlee.”  Drove me nuts.  Knew better, but maybe couldn’t remember, maybe didn’t care.

Secondly, she had this thing I figure came from being upper- crust as a kid.

“You find someone to work on the roof?” I might ask.

“Oh yes,” she might warble. ” Hired this little Mexican man.”

When I see the guy, he ain’t little.  He’s 240 pounds.  But he is Hispanic.

“Oh!” she might say.  “I hired this little Indian woman to do some bead work for me.”  Turned out the little Indian woman was taller than she was and weighed in heavier than the roof repair man.

You get the picture. Non-Anglo-Saxons were little, particularly if they were hired to do something.

No, the lady wasn’t a bigot, precisely.  She wouldn’t sit still for racial slurs unless they were subtle, oblique, or less so, but about Navajo folks, whom she generally disliked.  She conveyed the impression instead, that she found little men who did repairs to the plumbing so cute, so lovable, so adorable and quaint.  Something akin to looking through the big end of a telescope at them standing there so tiny doing their assigned jobs.

When we parted company after a few years it wasn’t pleasant, but I learned a lot about myself from her, once she began explaining what all was wrong with me.  It was worth a lengthy listen because she probably knew me as well as anyone ever has.

After I decided it was over I continued talking to her every night on the telephone for about a month, an hour-or-so per night, determined to listen carefully and consider everything ugly she could think of to say about me without any argument.  She mightn’t be right, or she might be right but about something I didn’t want to change, or she might be right and I might want to change it.

But we don’t get many opportunities in this life to have someone who knows us well go into loving detail explaining every flaw and wart, everything we haven’t noticed  about ourselves.  There aren’t any little people a person could hire to do that.

Eventually I came to realize she was enjoying those protracted nightly diatribes more than was possibly good for her.  She’d begun repeating herself, also.  So I told her it was over.

I mostly remember her for the valentine side.  The going up big was worth the coming down little.

Old Jules

P.S.  For you bloggers, a note from Jeanne (Admin):

Click here for a chance to win a slot in The Bloggess sidebar for a month sponsored by freefringes.com
http://freefringes.com/2011/09/20/lovelinks-24-open/

P.P.S. Another note from Jeanne (Admin):
We’re getting a few new readers from the contest site who are probably confused about my linking  to some old guy’s blog… so I wanted to mention that I’m a background partner on this blog and no, I didn’t write most of these posts!  I didn’t really understand the submission forms, so the blog is listed under “Jeanne Kasten”. I don’t know why. Sorry for any confusion!

Paul Simon– Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

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19 responses to “So Long, and Thanks for all the Valentines

  1. It was worth a few years anyway. Aren’t relationships special at whatever level. It’s been explained to me recently just where I fit on the totem pole of life and it ain’t at the top.

    Was this girl mean>

  2. Jules,I guess we wouldn’t be who we are now without them,good or bad.Some we hurt-some hurt us.I actually had one who is still my most valuable friend,I can tell her anything and she gives me her best advice knowing me for over 20 years sometimes shes right! Been a long strange trip! Good day to ya Bro!

    China
    III

  3. I thought the Valentines were great. I could give you some love advice because I am an expert. Isn’t that right, honey? Honey??? Where the heck are you?

    • Michael Ultra: Thanks for stopping in. I think when you made the comment I was waxing poetic on the subject of love, life and relationships, but if you can do it shorter and plainer more people will probably comprehend what you’re saying, which might be better, or it mightn’t.. Wishing you a fine day here on this old mudball where there’s no where near enough mud to go around. Gracias, J

  4. Morning One Fly: Thanks for coming by this morning. The sun’s up above the porch rail about 20 degrees outside and I’ve had my second or third coff of cuppee, let the chickens loose to forage, fed the cats and driven the starving deer off the chicken feed and water a dozen times. In other words, it’s the time of day for me to take a breather and reflect on something. In this case I think I’ll reflect on relationships, which I’m relatively free of at this stage of my game, aside from a few lingerers I value more because of their quaint persistence.

    [Lengthy digression edited out without prejudice]

    I see I’ve gone on and on without saying anything. Here’s looking at you podner. Here’s tipping my hat to the pain you’re going through, wishing for you sometime when you’ll look backward and say, “It was worth it.”

    Hi China: Thanks for stopping in. Yep, I’d hate to have lived my life without those creatures. But again, you win the prize in summing things up: “Long, strange trip!”

  5. Been there several times before, but it seems that those always finding fault with others just want to spout it and don’t want any return criticism.

  6. Well, that’s interesting. I was writing what I thought was a well-articulated, thoughtful commentary on this and the universe or whomever just up and swept it away. I try to listen to stuff like that, so all I’m going to say is , this was a Very, Very good post. Thank you.

    I may be back to try again, but I’ll let it go at that for now.

  7. I’m back and going to try again. I wanted to say how refreshing this post is. Being able to be introspective and yet balanced in one’s outlook isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to relationships, but you’ve managed to do it with openness and humor.

    The valentine gift she gave you was very kind. When we were kids, we had a class list and were expected to give a valentine to everyone on the list. It’s my sense that everyone did that. It would have saved a lot of heartache if all schools had insisted on it. Most consumer driven “holidays” leave me cold now. It’s pretty much a day that way too many people feel excluded from and leads to unnecessary sadness.

    re: guacamole. I find it interesting, if not amusing, how what may have once
    been endearing, or at least tolerable, becomes the catalyst for moving on down the road. Positives become negatives, self-confidence is suddenly cocky arrogance. And other such redundancies. I’ve been on both sides of that fence.

    “She was enjoying those protracted nightly diatribes more than was possibly good for her. She’d begun repeating herself, also,” might be the best lines I’ve heard in a good long while. Mark Twain had a way of finding the humor in situations and so do you. This is right there alongside his stuff in humor and insight. This is good. Really good.

    You didn’t come down little at all.

    P.S. Graceland is in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. Diamonds is my second favorite song from it, right after the title song. Love the African rhythms.

  8. Tffnguy: Thanks for the visit and read. You probably have a point. Gracias, J

    Morning Theresa Evangeline: Thanks for the comments. Relationships ain’t an easy thing for most of us as nearly as I can figure. They’re usually a major part of our lives when they’re going on, but the people involved in them devote more thought to all manner of other things probably they’d consider less valuable if they considered it, and not much at all to the interactions between themselves and the relationshipee.

    Just another piece of the human mystery I reckons. Gracias, J

  9. I loved the Valentine bit – how thoughtful of her. There were wonderful memories of the relationship to cherish and that’s great.
    I’m visiting from Lovelinks. This was a nice read.

    • Hi anonymous. Thanks for coming by and commenting. Yeah, it was one of those moments doesn’t happen too many times in life, enough times in life. I think I know the reason it doesn’t, but knowing the reason doesn’t change anything worth mentioning. Thanks for coming by and for the comment. Gracias, Jules

  10. This right here is why I love Lovelinks. How else is an obnoxious mommy blogger such as myself going to come across a piece like this written from the point of view of a man about my grandfather’s age?

    I really enjoy your voice.

    I imagine Senora Gwakamole did too. Sorry it didn’t work out though.

    • I doubt you’d find it anywhere else. Thanks for coming for the read, mamamash. Glad also to see someone likes these male/female relationship anecdotes. I’ve thought a lot about posting this sort of thing, got a lot I’d consider sharing, but I didn’t want to drive away readers. The blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic and, while I talk a lot to my cats and chickens, there’s no point typing it out just for their benefit.

      Gracias, Jules

  11. I loved the visual of you and those valentines. They probably eclipsed all that woman’s subtle bigotry over the years! Lovely.

  12. This was just so darn well told. In my mind I could hear you telling it and see it all. I agree with my fellow freefringer, mamamash, I really enjoy your voice.

  13. So eloquently put – it’s so hard to describe subtle forms of bigotry and why it irks us so. Thank you for putting it into words and also for humanizing it when it’s so easy to demonize the person. It’s usually much more complex because we often hear it from loved ones.

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