Oh, Data Match Day, I mean, Valentine’s Day...the day that might or might not be encircled with a big red heart on my calendar! Okay, if you know me, you already know I’m totally guilty. I know it’s probably a huge cliché, but I have always loved Valentine’s Day. Even the years my sister was my only Valentine, I still couldn’t help but love the silly, little day! It just makes me so giddy to think of those tiny, little perforated cartoon character cards (see photo to the left) and those big, cheesy heart balloons. I just can’t help it!
And I just can’t help but love all the silly, little traditions that go along with the day either! I’m not sure what life in second grade would have been like without things like mailbox decorating. I mean, who doesn’t love snatching up every foam and paper lace heart in the Valentine’s aisle and sticking them to an old, stinky shoe box?! Who cares what goes in it or from whom?! If you had a mailbox with a working heart-covered flag, you were the queen of the red and pink shoe boxes for a day!
And maybe your school didn’t partake in this next lovely tradition, but my 180-student-body high school in small-town Missouri surely did! Does the photo below look at all familiar?!
The Data Match!
I guess we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. This was, of course, before the days of Match.com! But seriously, every year, each person would fill out a short questioner with questions on it like: What is your idea of a perfect Friday night? or something like that. Then, on Valentine’s Day, you would go to a little table in the hall, sift through the 180 envelopes until you found the one with your name on it. Then, you'd eagerly snatch it up. At this point, you’re so excited that you turn around to your best friend with the look of a thousand lifetimes of smiles on your face before you go to rip open the envelope. But suddenly, you stop, and a horrifying sense of dread washes over you. You've just remembered that the guy at the top of your list last year was your cousin and that the guys that followed him weren't much better. In fact, you had known all of them long enough to remember that one wet his bed his entire fourth year of life, one sat next to you in Sunday school and picked his nose the whole time and the other gave you a box of chocolates with a frog in it in fifth grade.
It’s not until this point that you think maybe it’s best you never see the names. You stuff the envelope into the back pocket of your jeans and keep moving, until your best friend catches up to you and forces you to retrieve and open said envelope. You do it only because of peer pressure because there's nothing worse than peer pressure when you're sixteen. And suddenly, the seal is broken, the names are exposed, and sure enough, Cousin makes the top of the list yet again!
Oh, Data Match Day!
But you didn’t expect me to end this story without a happily ever after, did you?! Never! Well, I'm proud to say that on February 14, 2001, my high school sweetheart and I finally outmatched the Data Matcher! With just a little cheating (Okay, every one of our answers might have been the same), I held my breath that day, opened my envelope, peeked at the results through one squinted eye...and sure enough, found HIS name at the top of my list! Talk to the hand, Data Matcher! (Unfortunately, we said things like that in the 00s—the decade we couldn't quite figure out what to call!) But really, life didn't get any better than that! And it still amazes me how something like beating the Data Matcher—even if there was a tiny bit of cheating involved—seemed to right the world again at seventeen!
But anyway, all this rambling is really just to say, Have a Happy Valentine’s Day! It's always nice to have that one day a year where putting little hearts everywhere doesn't make you look totally crazy! ♥♥♥
And if you so happen to find yourself in the reading mood on this “most romantic” day of the year, you can also check out my newly released contemporary romance, For All You Have Left! I promise you’ll find a love story there...and maybe even a happily ever after too!
I write about rain on tin roofs, gravel roads, old trucks with holes in the floorboards and small-town summer nights. I grew up on a farm in a little Midwestern town. Now, I live in Kansas City, Mo., with my weatherman husband.
Laura Miller's first contemporary romance novel, Butterfly Weeds, hit the Amazon Best-Seller's List and Top 100 in October 2012. The sequel to Butterfly Weeds, My Butterfly, released in June 2013. For All You Have Left, By Way of Accident, When Cicadas Cry and A Bird on a Windowsill followed. Look for The Life We Almost Had, Laura's latest small-town romance, at book retailers now. And check out her children's book, Pay It Forward!