I’m sure that if I as much as asked around, I’d find that I am not the first or the last young man with embarrassing stories about Valentine’s day or first loves. The first Valentine’s day in my childhood memory occurred while I was in JSS3 or so just as I was just becoming a teenager. I had bought a well-designed card with lovely words and taken it to the extra-mural classes we had during evenings hoping to present it to the object of my attention who attended the same evening class. I however made the mistake of first showing it to a friend, who laughed at me, so I figured that the girl to whom it was addressed would hate it even more. Without reason, I tore it off, and sat the whole day wondering what would have happened it I had given it to her. I liked her very much after all. It was one of those moments that never come back, except in adult reminiscences of childhood playfulness.

An earlier moment of embarrassment in childhood love has however occurred a few years before this time. This was way back in primary school when a cute girl in my class suddenly became an object of my intense interest. The problem was, she shared a class bench and desk with some other guy who was not me. Not a good thing, I reckoned, and began to scheme how to take over the spot that I felt rightly belonged to me. So one day while everyone was on break, I moved my books and bag from my designated sitting space and transferred, without the teacher’s permission, into the spot where Tunde – my love’s authentic class partner – always sat, and waited for him to show up so as to show him his new sitting space far away; and for her to show up to be my new class queen. The succeeding events when class eventually reconvened a few minutes later – I must confess – were matters of great laughter to the class, and to me not just embarrassment but an attack, a conspiracy. For I could never fully understood the teacher’s sense of amazement that I had decided to finally move closer to “the love of my life.” I am convinced that variations of this event would have played out within laughters in my mind of my school mates whenever they thought back on those times of our childhood.

There was another one from childhood which I believe some folks might remember. Or not. A few quasi-risqué-romantic-ish prose poems from an eight year old boy have suddenly been discovered within his school books by his siblings. The boy was me, of course, and the girl was the same object from class. The punishment, according to them, was having to read the said “poems” aloud to a giggling audience of siblings within the house, or risk having them reported to parents. Why that threat of showing them to parents was such a big deal then is still not clear to me, but I will bet that it had roots in self-consciousness. I took the first choice, with all requisite boldness for such endeavour, and read my most private pondering on a desired love in public to a group of jesting folks who most likely just wanted to have fun at my expense. Luckily, it did not end up as the last of such expressions of emotions contemplated in solitude. As an undergrad in the University in 2002, I wrote another one and titled it “My Valentine Fantasy.”

St. Valentine’s day is coming again next week, and since the love fairy has already delivered my gift since a while ago, I don’t think that I have much of a request. It is likely that I spend the weekend at the annual Festival of the Mardi Gras in St. Louis anyway – my first time experience of the uniquely American festival of life, fun, colour and fanfare. For Chris’s sake – my American classmate and co-conspirator to the event, I hope it is more than just a day of staring at flashing boobs of random strangers. You bet I’d let you now what I think. Meanwhile, head over to LaurensOnline for those of you in Lagos who may want to impress friends and lovers with Valentine gifts of shoes and bags. You get up to 20% discount if you show proof of donation of any kind to the Red Cross for Jos Relief. It’s a season of giving, after all.

And yes, please tell me about your own childhood crush experiences. I’d love to listen to them, you know.

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