Home > autobiographical > My First Valentine’s Day and más…

My First Valentine’s Day and más…

In order to honor the integrity of the individuals mentioned and written about in this piece, I have changed the names, except for Elizabeth. This excerpt was also supposed to be a part of a larger piece that I will post in the near-future.

I grew up with my parents telling me that I couldn’t have a girlfriend until I was in college. That, however, didn’t mean that I didn’t try. I remember my first crush being a girl at church; I was in the second grade. She was a fourth-grader. Taking after my old man[1], I feared not the experience of a young woman two years my elder. Her name was Elizabeth, and I looked upon her as if I were a wide-eyed Mr. Darcy. I have a few salient memories from the experience of my first crush. The most salient of these took place at an elementary school event held at church for Valentine’s Day. Each student was asked to bring in a small gift for the occasion. I remember going to Toys-R-Us, obviously because this is where every man does all his shopping. They have all your necessities—action figures, video games—back in the day, you would pick them up behind a glass booth[2] after your purchase, bikes, Halloween costumes, stuffed animals and chocolates. For Elizabeth, I went above and beyond and picked up both chocolates and a stuffed animal.

When I got to church that evening with wrapped gifts in hand and the hope that Elizabeth would be my Valentine in heart, I was soon disappointed by hearing of the gift exchange details. Gifts, placed in a large pile near the front of the church dining hall, would be selected at random and given to a recipient. I was devastated and torn. On one hand, I had hand-picked this gift that my mom wrapped extra neatly for me; and here it was, sitting like a duck in a pond to be given away to some unassuming elementary schooler with no aspirations of Valentine’s Day romance. After all, we were elementary school kids. What did we know about romance? On the other hand, I was too much of a coward to stand up from the circle we were sitting in, stride over to the corral of gifts, take mine and present it on bended knee to thy dear Elizabeth. I probably imagined her giving me a big hug and later, we’d find some corner to sit in while she told me all about how much she liked her stuffed animal. Unfortunately, reality played out a little differently. When it came to Elizabeth’s turn, she was given a gift from the pile that wasn’t mine. However, my grandmother, who was sitting nearby with all the other grandmothers witnessing the gift exchange, could not simply sit quietly and allow such an injustice to occur. While my heart sank, my indignant grandmother waddled over to the stage where my gift sat excitedly, like a baby pleading to be lifted and held. She grabbed it, walked over to Elizabeth and exchanged her erroneous gift for the one that was meant to be. At the time, I was blushing brighter the paper red hearts that decorated the walls of the dining room, but in retrospect, this was a testament to how much my grandmother loved and still loves me. To this day, more than anything, it is her joy to see me happy; and I am grateful that she spared me the disappointment that I would have felt to have that gift find the hands of another woman (or boy), especially after all the trouble I went through to have my mom drive me to Toys-R-Us, pay for the gift and wrap it for me. This was my first real crush. We didn’t date, in case you were wondering. I think I was later rejected—she told me that I was too young for her.

the true woman of my dreams.

Through the years, I had a string of minor crushes until the seventh grade when I became obsessed with another girl at church. When I say “obsessed,” I mean like, I was writing about this girl in my journal, I thought the song “If you’re not the one” by Daniel Bedingfield epitomized my hopeless affection and admiration for her. Needless to say, I am pretty sure that my desperation was a bit of a turn-off and nothing amounted to anything during my three years of pursuit. Yes, I literally pursued one girl for three years—from seventh to tenth grade. This was the beginning of my hopeless romantic phase, where I started listening to emo music and began watching Dawson’s Creek[3]. Even to this day, there is something that tugs at my heartstrings about Dawson’s Creek. The show is cheesy as hell, but I think the growing up in a small town, being smitten by one girl for many years and pursuing her resonated with my idealistic notions of what I wanted and hoped for in romance. A few years later, summer after I graduated high school, I ended up dating my seventh grade obsession[4], two years after the fact. Up until this point, I really had no real girl experience. The extent of my female relationships were close friends and a semi-summer fling at a summer camp at Harvard University, where I attended an 8-week academic program for high school students the summer after my tenth grade year. Normally, during summer flings, you have something hot and steamy, and it is a more physical relationship than anything. Or at least, this is how I see it. I came centimeters from having my first kiss that summer, but it never came to fruition. However, it was on my terms. I had holding out on my first kiss for something special, and I guess I may not have felt convicted enough to fulfill Pocahontas’s request of a Good Night kiss before we parted ways after the 11pm check-in. Instead, we shared a tender hug, and I said something to the effect of:  “next time.” Therefore, I poetically put off my first kiss until a summer night in 2006, when I really faced for the first time that quiet moment when both people are looking at each other after some suspenseful build-up, usually flirtatious horseplay to break the touch barrier. I mean, when you get to that point, you both know it’s coming; you’re glancing at her lips and she’s eying yours like a fat kid at the sight of cake. Remember gentlemen: You go 90, and allow her to come 10. After all, consent it sexy.

[1] My mom is two years older than my dad. In traditional Korean society, from how I understand it to be, it is taboo for a woman to marry a younger man. That is just how much game my daddy-o had.

[2] As a child, I remembered thinking that they kept all these video games in this contained booth because they didn’t want kids stealing all their precious games.

[3] Though Dawson was always the hopeless romantic on the show, I was and always will be in the Pacey Witter club. All the Twilight Edward vs. Jacob battle is is a dumb-downed, more superficial, fantastical, less sophisticated version of Pacey Witter vs. Dawson Leery.

[4] Her name was Cruella.

  1. Lena
    September 15, 2010 at 3:52 am

    the hitch reference was quite delightful. will smith is just awesome.

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