Once, Valentine’s Day was something to celebrate. Then it turned into something to mess up. Now it is something to dread. Truly. Dread.
And this time, it’s not my fault for coming up with intensely complicated Valentine’s project. I’m no dummy–It only took me three years (Count them: one, two, three) to just go to Party City and buy a box of fun size* bags of Skittles with heart stickers. I learn from my mistakes, eventually.
Nope, not my fault. This year, I blame the Cub Scouts.
You see, they are the ones who schedule complicated yet compelling activities on what would otherwise just be a night spent raiding the kids’ candy bags for those white conversation hearts. Once we pledged our banners** to this band of brothers, we also lost our Wednesdays. And pretty much every other Saturday. And the tips of my fingers from sewing on all these participation badges.
To be fair, the scouts’ worst sin is this: They’re on the East Side. And the Fun Apartment and all its inhabitants are on the West side. Non New Yorkers are now wondering “Hey, how bad could that be? You live on a skinny island, after all.” New Yorkers, meanwhile, are shuddering in sympathy with me. Yes, there are ways to move across the island skinny-ways, but none of them are fast, convenient, cheap, or user-friendly.
And so, on this day for celebrating all the loves of your life, the Cub Scouts scheduled their swimming event. In three shifts. And we were the first, and the third. And they needed me, who gets really cold, really quickly, to get in the pool with the first shift. And the Man of My Dreams needed to work late. Ah, romance! Really, what woman wouldn’t choose to spend Valentine’s Day shivering in a pool with 45 boys under 10?
All of this means that there was a race to collect the children and leap onto a bus that crawled across town to a location so far east that I began to wonder if they’d be swimming in the river. Then two of us splashed into the pool. As chaperone, I did not have very much to do besides stand in chest deep water, try not to get kicked and wonder how far one’s body temperature has to plunge before hypothermia sets in. By the free time portion, I was slurring my words.
And it went on like this until 9:30, including a lot of splashing, polo (water and Marco), a dinner of Z Bars and my standing outside a locker room hollering the kids’ names with one hand covering my eyes (The Cub Scouts, after all, have a reputation to uphold. . .) and assuring them when they came out shrugging that yes, they had in fact come wearing pants.
But these kids? These kids had FUN. To them, this was an ideal school night activity. It could not have been a more perfect day. Even racing after a bus pulling away without us was all part of the general hi-jinks of the thing.
“Well, that was love,” I told myself, as I finally sat down, my knuckles white around the wine glass and box of conversation hearts, my circulation finally restored. “And this is how I show these yahoos that I love them. Through my %$#@ing actions.”
And love it is. The exhausting kind. But also the important kind.
*Skittles and I differ greatly on what constitutes a “fun” size.
**Once you start reading Game of Thrones, you don’t stop, apparently.