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The other side of Valentine's Day

| Monday, Feb. 10, 2003

In just a few days the world will celebrate the vilest holiday of the year —Valentine's Day.

It is a day dreaded by many youngsters and adults, as well.

If you don't believe it ask anyone who was not "popular" as a child, one who suffered through the annual Valentine's Day party in school —year after year after year.

Perhaps the child wore glasses or was chubby or was too short or too tall. Maybe he or she had the wrong haircut or wore clothes that weren't the height of fashion. Maybe they came from a one-parent home or weren't smart enough, or pretty enough or were nerdy.

In preparation for Valentine's Day, school kids make these dippy boxes with hearts, lace and other kitschy, cutesy stuff all over them. Some kids spend a long time creating just the perfect box. Then they set those boxes in a corner of the schoolroom or on their desks on the fateful day, hoping to get lovely valentines from classmates.

Then what happens?

The prettiest girl and the cutest boy in the class have boxes overflowing with big blowsy valentines telling them how much they are loved and admired by smitten peers. They get valentines from everyone in the class and probably from kids in other classes, as well.

The unfortunate child who is less than perfect in the eyes of peers opens his or her box to find a few cards from kids whose parents insisted (good for them) that they give each and every child in the class a valentine.

Or worse, the chubby child gets valentines with elephants or whales or pigs on them, the short child gets cards with shrimp or other small creatures on them, the tall child gets gawky giraffes, the child who wears glasses gets cards with strange, cartoon characters wearing, what else, spectacles, etc.

Sometimes cute little phrases are crossed out and rewritten to say rotten, nasty things. It is hurtful, spiteful and mean and children who already know they are different or less than perfect are cut to the core.

It's sad and cruel.

As people get older, especially women, they hope for a special remembrance on Valentine's Day — roses, a beautiful box of chocolates, a special card. Often what they get is nothing and so they believe they are unwanted, unloved, worthless.

Even worse are those men who cheat on their significant others, abuse them and disrespect them 364 days a year, then on Valentine's Day send roses or a card telling their mates how much they love them.

Oh, please.

If you have a mate who cherishes you and treats you with love, dignity and respect every day of the year and forgets to give you a card on Valentine's Day, hang on to him. He is your valentine — and he doesn't have to prove it with a card on this loathsome holiday.

Now, ask me how I really feel.

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