My favorite Valentine that I ever got was from a boy named Jay. We were in high school. We were not even dating. He came over on Valentine’s Day, after school, and gave me a potato with a toothpick stuck in it. Glued carefully to the toothpick was a cardboard cut out of a heart. And that was it. We never kissed. I think that was in part due to the fact that I had the beginnings of strep throat and I proudly showed him the white puss pockets in the back corner of my throat. We did homework. We watched TV. He showed me how many pens he could fit in his hair (he had a huge fro) and that was about it. The potato stayed in my fridge for months. Maybe over a year. It grew little green arms that curled around themselves, praying almost. It stayed plump and healthy for a surprisingly long time. But one day, when all the moisture was gone, it shriveled up. The shriveling process was a very quick one. I still did not throw it away. Luckily, I grew up in a house where aunt Diane’s home made Marion berry jam from 1998 still proudly sits this day wedged between an empty bottle of salad dressing and left overs of some unknown origin covered in a fine downy white fuzz. Finally, when the brown freckles that dotted the once proud potato grew into huge, gaping black caverns, I knew it was time to part with my treasured gift.
Jay is now married. His wife may have a nice ring on her finger, but I still have the toothpick with the heart. I think we all know who came out on top here.