Valentines Day and a Box Social    Grade 2     Miss Betty Jean Anderson (teacher)

Georgetown, Ontario, Canada        February 14, 1960  Chapel Street School

Valentine’s Day…frenetic activity.

Who would get the most cards? Popularity depended on volume.

Messages: Be mine….You’re so sweet.

Corny puns: Some Bunny Loves You (accompanied by a drawing of a rabbit).

A release of sublimated childhood sexuality.

A miserable day for the boy known as “Lardpile,”

Who chomped all day on those cinnamon red hot candy hearts,

Waiting for the cards that seldom came.


Valentine’s Day tradition in our school: the Box Social.

The girls prepared and decorated a basket or box containing a full lunch.

In our school, the boxes weren’t auctioned to the highest bidder.

Instead, there was a “lucky” or “unlucky” draw.

A lunch was put forward; a boy’s name was drawn from a hat

And the girl and boy were paired for an extended lunch,

Their desks drawn close together for intimacy and profound conversation.


Dread, not Britannia, ruled the classroom waves.

There was a black list on both sides of the gender divide.

Who would get the girl with cooties?

Who would be stuck with “Lardpile”?


Debbie Wilson drew my name.

Her face collapsed like a crushed patent leather glove squeezed by an invisible malevolent hand.

A tremor and a cascade of tittering reverberated through the classroom.

Then an explosion of scorn and relief.


Debbie Wilson – or Mrs. Wilson – had prepared white bread egg-salad sandwiches,

Cheese Whiz celery sticks, and homemade butterscotch chip cookies.

I was mortified by the close quarters and the bizarre consumption ritual,

Which obviously portended so much.

Too much for a small fat boy to bear.

I peed on my seat,

Ruining Miss Betty Jean Anderson’s Box Social on February 14, 1960.


(I’m absent from the class picture doing penance for the heinous act.)

Robert McBryde Author: IndieReader approved, adolescence, hippies, pop music, 1960s, 1970s, blogging, social media,  CBC radio, literary non-fiction, tales, short stories, vignettes, immigrant experience, sports, Quebec anglos, living in France,  childhood and animal stories, creative memoirs, satire, autobiography, family relations, fathers, raising children, aging, facing death, fear of death, travel, social commentary, love and marriage, translation: English-French; French-English

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