Medicated Valentine

February, 2009

Greetings Valentine sufferers!

 
 
Welcome to the February (pronounced "Feb-ROO- airy")  Read&Delete, a newsletter guaranteed to be just as refreshing as walking into your own sneeze.
 
This month is all about hearts and flowers and candy and machine guns and old airplane crashes.
 
 
From the Read&Delete Almanac:
50 years ago this month- the music died- just outside Clear Lake, Iowa. Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens traded their guitars for harps, and the Big Bopper made his last and biggest bop ever-- to the other side.  
80 years ago this month-- a group of Al Capone's "musicians" played a tune on their tommy guns in a Chicago garage for a few members of Bugs Moran's gang --and a bystander-- a concert otherwise known as the St. Valentines' Day Massacre.
 
Life lessons:
#1 Never get on a small plane in bad weather when surrounded by rock and roll legends.
#2 Never have your car serviced on Valentine's Day.
 
 
 
Why, yes!  We salute Valentine's Day!!!!!  It's the Hallmark of Holidays!  When you care enough to send the hairy beast-- er --- the very best.
So we discuss some things about Valentine's Day that don't seem to make sense:
 
Greeting Cards:
 
This is true marketing in action.  People have been conditioned over the past decades to believe that they cannot put their true feelings into words.  This has been done by greeting card companies in order to pry 3 or 4 bucks out of the hands of some poor sot who thinks he can't effectively express himself. Yet if you cut him off if traffic.... he expresses himself in fine form. .. and in no uncertain terms.  But it's a sentiment thing, I guess. Our guy will spend 20 minutes in the greeting card aisle, trying to find the right card-- not too drippy, not too corny, not too expensive. Something with flowery prose that conveys an emotion that fits somewhere in between "I can tolerate you from time to time- when you can keep your stupid yap shut" and, "I feel horribly incomplete whenever we are apart dear, and I live only for the commitment to you I have forever burning in my soul." Sometimes it is really too hard to just the right thing to say-- so for this reason the Read&Delete has developed for you-- our very own---
 
Specialized Valentines' Greetings:
 
To my darling sweetheart, the apple of my eyes-- I will love you always, or until my wife gets wise.
 
Valentine, I give you the moon, the stars, the sun--- It's all I have to give--- since your @#!*# lawyers have taken all the rest.  
 
I tried so hard to tell you just how much I need you --- but the kidnappers wouldn't let me--  Happy Belated Valentine's Day
      P.S. Please send small, unmarked bills.
 
Valentine--- Since you've been gone I feel really depressd---  almost as bad as when you were here.
 
They say enough alcohol can make any woman beautiful--  for your sake, Valentine  I hope it's true-- because I'm trying as hard as I can.
 
Valentine, your beauty makes a melody in my heart------- that harmonizes perfectly with the voices in my head.
 
 
Conversation Hearts--- Many years ago, some wiseguy managed to print tiny words on little heart-shaped lumps of sugar, and began to market them to love-sick sucrose addicts. Every year, thousands of pounds of these hardened tooth smashers are sold to people who couldn't make intelligent conversation (or even an understandable message) with them if they tried for a whole month. And now with the advent of 'political correctness', they have become out and out sterile in their romantic messaging capabilities. Nowadays, there simply must be another use for these things (other than jump-starting cavities).  I have an idea.........
 
 
 
A Sentimental Journey- My tale from the "Night Gallery"
 
 
Throughout my formative years, I have not had very much luck in the area of friendship or acceptance with the softer sex. As I recall, there was a little girl in my first grade class in school named Kim, who at odd moments (and without warning) used to run up to me, kick me in the shin as hard as she could, and run away. This happened several times a week, and I think I still have the scars.  This Kim was not to be confused with the other Kim in my class who used to draw cute little pictures of people (normal looking pictures except the people all seemed to be depicted with cat ears). But I digress.
 
Back in '67 and '68, all the little girls in my grade had names like Kim, Jenny, Mary, Sally and Susie-- with a few Cathys and Margarets thrown in.They wore cute dresses and ribbons in their hair. The boys were Johns, Mikes, Bills, Daves and a Joe or two.  The Vietnam war was big in everyone's minds, along with the space program, civil rights and forced bussing of students.
'67 and '68 were also the years before Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) became popular, or desirable. Nowadays there are specialized tutors and facilities for these unique students. Before that, in the Dark Ages-- kids like me were diagnosed as 'hyperactive'. The hyper kids were pretty easy to spot. We were the ones who would recite the entire alphabet in one syllable, eat our snacks through our noses, and levitate over our mats during nap-time. Stuff like that was pretty disruptive for the teacher who were busy getting the Bills, Mikes, Marys and Kims to color inside the outlines and keep their postures straight.  They just weren't equipped to handle the lone kid who could color with 8 crayons simultaneously before climbing inside the classroom piano to see how it worked.
 In order to restore peace in the classroom, guys like me got letters to take home from the teachers-- and got sent to doctors for diagnosis. I remember this well. At some hospital I had a mess of wires taped or glued to my head and hooked up to the Bat Computer-- while doctors and nurses made me alternately lie still or do some small activity. As I recall, they had to run the test several times due to my fidgeting and tugging the wires off. That may have been the actual test- to see how long a six year old could sit still in a scary room with nasty people around and wires glued to his head.
 The diagnosis was made, and the medication was prescribed. That's how it was in the '60s-- diagnosis, medication-- diagnosis, medication. Now I want to make a distinction here, a distinction between the medications and treatments used today and those used in my childhood. Today's work with ADD is incomparably superior to my early experiences. Today's treatments are far more controlled and effective than the old 'tractability' goal.  I was made definitely made tractable with a high dosage of a drug called Dexedrine- a powerful stimulant illegally used even now by truck drivers to stay awake all night. On the street they call it with names like: speed, goofballs or skinny bennies. In my case, the drug had a 'scale-balancing effect' -- its presence caused other chemicals to activate and supposedly calm me down, somewhat. Because of this, I was able to sit more quietly in a classroom at the cost of not being able to either think straight or control my emotions for any substantial length of time. Every morning for 12 years, I awoke to given a glass of water and a Dexedrine capsule (or two)- which I had to swallow without chewing- unless I wanted to experience the most bitter taste in my mouth that I could imagine-- I guess that's why I can't stand dry vermouth in my martini - it makes me think I'm being doped.
   My very real problem was not necessarily with Dr. Speedball or the teachers or the grown ups (they make allowances and adjustments) but with my fellow classmates. This is where cruelty lives in its most virulent form. In grammar school- to be different is to be despised -- and derided. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can kill you. Boys can chase you around the playground and pound lumps into you, but girls can open their mouths and tear holes in your soul.  A boy can defend himself against other boys, but girls are another matter entirely. They come very close to getting away with murder, either with a look, a word or with gossip. Case in point-- most of the cyber-bullying done today is done by females.
    I can remember the moment when it all began, in the late sixties version of utopia- the suburbs. I was in the second grade at the Sanford E.Simoniz Elementary School, in the months before a man named Neil walked on the moon. I was supposed to write a book report (my choice of title) and I didn't do it. I put it off too long, distracted by the important events of the day on television: Mission Impossible, Mannix, Dragnet and the likes.  I didn't even read the book. The teacher, thinking I read it, decided to give me a 'second chance' by standing me up in front of the class to give the report orally. The book I was supposed to read was called "Blaze and the Forest Fire" and I supposed it was about a horse named Blaze who saves her owner and bunch of others from a terrible fire. This was a correct synopsis about the book, and I bluffed it out pretty good-- but I added to the ending of the book by saying , "Blaze got burned up in the fire". Big mistake. At the time I did not know (or maybe I did) that all little girls of the day were desperately in love with horses (some ended up marrying them) and that most of the girls in the room had already read that book. When I made my report, some of the girls cried, some were shouting, That's not true!", and one of the little girls got sick. 
  The turmoil was unbelievable. I refused to recant my story, and got sent to the principal's office. During my absence, the teacher gathered the little girls around her and tried to explain it all away by saying that I had a "problem". She was trying for the sympathy angle, but it didn't work. Little girls have no sympathy for horse-burners (real or imagined) especially those who make them vomit in the classroom.  By the time I got back to class, the girls were in full vitriol mode (as much as seven and eight year olds can be) and by the end of the week it was all over the school and the neighborhood. For the next ten years, I was marked as a 'retard' and that was that. As long as the story preceded me, I was a dead duck with my classmates.  I finally got off the meds as a high-school sophomore, but it still didn't help my standing with the girls.
 
Thankfully, I married a girl who does not love horses, and if she doesn't read the book, she'll never know the difference. 
 
Moral: Horses don't burn well, unless they are medicated first.
 
What does this last story have to do with Valentines Day?  I gave my 'book report' and February 14, 1969. I remember it because I single-handedly ruined the Valentine's Day party.
 
Gotta go, I need my meds.
 
 
Neil
 
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