In seventh grade I had an epic crush on a classmate. I also wore a “Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective” t-shirt almost daily, so as you can guess the love was of the unrequited variety. I was new to the school, and Will* was the funniest kid in class. My heart melted with his every joke and wisecrack. By late fall my hobbies included doodling his name in notebooks, finding reasons to walk by his locker, and casting sidelong glances.
That February our school held a fundraiser where a student could pay a dollar to have a carnation delivered on Valentine’s Day. The sender would remain anonymous unless the recipient coughed up another dollar to discover the name. The carnations carried messages. A yellow carnation meant friendship, pink for secret admirer, and red meant love.
Because thirteen-year-old brains haven’t finished developing, I paid the money to have a yellow carnation sent to Will. It was a spontaneous decision made while strolling by the booth one day. So what if he’d never really talked to me. Yellow. Friendship. The delivery might get him to notice me even as a friend. I’d take friend. It felt like a brilliant move.
Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, the flower was delivered during art class filled with many of my classmates. He was the only one to receive a carnation. All eyes were on him while he dug change out of his pockets. Time ticked by as he counted nickels and dimes. This was it. I had played many scenarios in my head since my rash decision to send a token. Many of which ended with his confession of love.
The students delivering the flower whispered the name to him. He blanched, yelled, “Ugh! Heather! Gross!” and ripped the flower up with his teeth. And then stomped on the shredded petals. Folks laughed and howled while I became really interested in getting the shading just right on my art project. My face burned. A study in scarlet, indeed. A friend sitting next to me leaned over, squeezed my arm, and said, “Wonder what he would have done with a red one.” Or something. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember feeling heartened and less embarrassed. With my friend’s aside and support, something humiliating to a seventh-grade heart became something manageable.
And in that moment, February 14th became a celebration of friendship for me. And friends have been buoys through life’s curveballs and metaphoric shredded carnations.
Last year I learned that Finland celebrates “Friend’s Day” on this day. How fitting.
Here’s a mix celebrating friendship, and how the love of friends can get us through. And sometimes it’s getting us through Valentine’s Day.
Click on the song to see a video (I linked to the official video when possible.) Click on the artist for the library’s copy of the CD.
You can listen to the mix on Spotify. Click on the mix’s name for the link. The library doesn’t endorse Spotify, but if you want to sign up, there is a free level of membership.
With a little help from my friends / The Beatles
Wildewoman / Lucius
My Same / Adele
Broken Necks / Eskimeaux
All my friends / LCD Soundsystem
My best friend / Weezer
I’ll be there for you / Rembrandts
Count on me / Bruno Mars
We’re going to be friends / Jack Johnson
Kind and Generous / Natalie Merchant
Our World / My Morning Jacket from the Muppets Green Album
*the name has been changed. Well, altered slightly.
Mix Messages is written by library assistant Heather Armitage. She enjoys reading fiction and humorous essays, traveling, trying new vegetarian recipes, and dancing in the kitchen. She’s grateful her dog, Floyd, doesn’t judge her moves. If you have suggestions for future Mix Messages, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org