Friday, February 13, 2009

Roses are Red

Valentine's Day.

A holiday designed to guilt "single" people into committing to a relationship - being dateless on Valentine's isn't as bad as not having family for Thanksgiving or being alone on Christmas, but it's exquisitely painful nonetheless. I quietly despise the holiday with a cynicism honed by years of painful rejection, self imposed bitterness, and heaping piles of broken romantic dreams.

Fuck you Valentines. Fuck you.

So naturally I buy a dozen individually wrapped long stem roses.

Every year on Valentine's day I hand roses out to the female teachers, aides, and staff. It started four years ago as a whim, but the second year I used the roses as part of an elaborate cover to ask out an aide I was interested in - and was promptly rejected. The third year I handed out flowers to make up for sticking my foot in my mouth and pissing off half the female staff. By now handing out flowers has become something of a "Leiken" tradition.

Giving out flowers did not go unnoticed. My last birthday a dozen women entered my classroom, singing "Happy Birthday Mr. Leiken" while each of them personally handed me a flower. My students were in shock, one of them convinced that I was the biggest "player" in the school. It's an unforgettable moment.

I almost don't buy the flowers this year, but then I recall my birthday and go through with it anyway. I'm not looking to ask anyone out, but I do have a reputation to protect.

On a wet and dreary Friday the 13th I hand out the roses with a half bow and a smile, the women are flattered and filled with startlement that borders on annoyance. "How sweet," they exclaim, "thank you Mr. Leiken." A moment later I move on.

Garcia and Gaitan smile, thank me, put away the rose, and I am forgotten. I hand out a flower to Maranphal as partial thanks for taking me out in Bangkok, she emits a surprised laugh before I move on to Borquez who accepts the flower with quiet grace.

Carnizales is deeply flattered, she offers to buy me lunch.
We eat cheeseburgers.

I hand out the flowers to other teachers, they smile emptily, unsure of how to react. I give a flower to Roberts who turns slightly red and laughs, she's going to Vegas with her boyfriend this weekend. One to Andres, one to Kim, one to Serrano, one to Jordan; they thank me and I feel empty, a meaningless gesture of pointless platitude sponsored by Hallmark to promote the national religion of romantic love.

Tell someone you don't believe in God and they'll argue.

Tell someone you don't believe in America and they'll get angry.

Tell someone you don't believe in "true-love" and they'll just walk away.

I don't feel the joy of giving. I don't feel anything but grey resentment.

I recieve no cards, no flowers, no candy. I'm tossed a red sucker by a student attempting to bribe me into letting her leave class easy.

I tell her no but eat the sucker.

I die a small death.

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