Published on February 13th, 2012 | by Culch.ie1
Culch Valentine’s: My secret admirer
A hideous chud I was. An skinny incubator of late puberty, hormones and penchant for sleeveless knitwear. Until the morning of Valentine’s Day in my 16th year I had resigned myself to the fact that unless my facial situation improved dramatically, I would be destined to a bitter, eccentric existence surrounded by cats and days spent mumbling to strangers on the bus about the state of all things. Not this year however. Oh no.
Having yet to receive that year’s pity card from my parents, I opened up the red envelope expecting the usual sweet message from ‘A Secret Admirer’ scrawled in my Ma’s handwriting. When I opened it up however it was written in a hand I didn’t recognise. There were poems. Poems plural. My parents didn’t know poems. I raised an eyebrow at my Ma and she shrugged. I looked down at the ‘Guess Who?’ and my stomach lurched forward.
Unable to process this information, I ran upstairs, fell on my bed and consulted the ceiling. Did I hold in my hands my first actual Valentine’s Day card? I was getting a little bit old for pity cards from my parents so it made sense. Who would this mysterious ‘Guess Who?’ be? I didn’t know many boys let alone any boys well enough to merit an admirer. Or did I? It could have been my neighbour Anthony. That would make sense. He knew where I lived for a start. (When I look back that assumption is laughable for I only discovered recently his name isn’t Anthony at all but Andrew and he was too polite to correct me.) Could it have been Damien the boy who worked at the stables? (Again, looking back Damien didn’t work at the stables at all he was simply very interested in horses.) He might have looked like a shaved gorilla but beggars could not be choosers. He was always talking to me. And then it hit me.
Perhaps I had spent too long watching romantic comedies or perhaps it took a Valentine’s card to make me realise that I harboured a small crush but this card was absolutely, definitely 100% from my friend Peter. I say ‘friend’ in the loosest of terms. He was in the same crowd and although we barely spoke to each other this was clearly because he was madly in love with me and couldn’t function in my company enough to make words. The next time I saw him I held his gaze, staring at him blankly like a ghoul, to see if I could expose his passion for me. He made excuses to talk to someone else. I tried flirting with him by regularly batting my eyelids like the cartoon character I am and he merely asked if I was feeling alright because I looked like I was having a stroke. Over the next following weeks, I gave him plenty of opportunities to confess his undying affection for me. One personal memory that sticks out was during the group trip to the funfair.
“I can’t go on that ride. I think I’m too much of a CARD.”
“You heard me”
“What did you say?”
“Coward…I said coward”
My skin crawls with the embarrassment of it all but that one Valentine’s card made me obsessed.
Many years later, the subject of Valentine’s Day was brought up during a conversation with my Ma.
“What was that poem again?”
“You know the poem. The one in that card the ones in work did for you?”
“The card we gave you one Valentine’s Day. I had the ones in work write all their favourite poems in it for you. How did that really good poem go?”
“Oh dear God no”
Yes. My first Valentine’s Day card was not my first Valentine’s Day card at all. My actual first Valentine’s gesture came in the form of a giant fluffy horse with ‘I LOVE YOU’ in a heart on its arse which says more for the relationship at the time than I care to admit. That 16th year, my Ma in her kindness decided to change up the handwriting that year unaware that it turned me into a monstrous version of myself hell bent on dragging kind words out of an innocent boy who in the end turned out to be as gay as they come. Typical.
So yeah…Happy Valentine’s Day.