The Cost of a Valentine

The assignment is to write a Valentine story.  This is the first draft.


Every Valentine’s Day I think back to that ill-fated day, Peter gave me his high school ring.  He was a Junior in High School and I was a Freshman.  I was thrilled to have a Junior as a boyfriend.  He was pretty special.  I thought he looked like George Peppard  in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

For Christmas, Peter took me to Boston to go ice skating on the Frog Pond.  I thought that was a creative idea.  He didn’t have a job at the time, but he was looking.  So I never expected anything for Valentine’s Day.  I was planning to bake something for him. Boy, he really swept me off my feet when he gave me his high school ring. 

My family invited him to dinner.  We were going to babysit my little sisters.  That’s about it, for the evening.  We played Monopoly until the girls’ bedtime.  I put them to bed.  Then we settled down on the couch to eat and watch TV.  Peter had already given me a Valentine card and I thought that was it.  But he asked to go steady.  There was no chance I was going to say “no.”  Then he took off his new, high school class ring and put it on my finger. 

I couldn’t believe it.  There’s this huge, shiny, class ring on my finger!  Me! With a junior’s ring.  Wait till my friends see me now! 

Since it was too big for me, I wrapped tape around it.  The next day, I proudly showed everybody.  At the time, that was the proudest day of my life.  Everyone, o-o-o-hed and a-a-a-ahed over the ring.  They said I was so-o-o lucky.  I walked on air for a couple of days.

Nothing last forever, right?  Poor Peter  will never forget that day, either.  He had to do something very hard for a young man to do.  He was humiliated and shamed. 

It seemed that since he never had the money to buy his ring, his mother gave him the money.  Peter’s family was hard working.  Both his parents worked.  His mother worked in a paper mill.  She gave Peter the money to buy his class ring out of her hard earned money.  When she heard that he gave his ring to me, she threw a fit.  She was enraged.  She even hit him; she practically foamed at the mouth.  She demanded that he get HER ring back!  She paid for it; it was hers; he had no right to give it away.

Peter almost cried when he told me what happened.  He looked so whipped!  I was embarrassed myself.  I didn’t know what to say to lessen his humiliation.  I just felt terrible because he felt so bad.  What a bitch his mother was!  Of course, I gave him his mother’s ring back.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Everyone, sympathized with Peter. She even put her ring on and wore it proudly.  She even bragged about what she had done.

At first, I planned on taking up a collection to raise the money for the class ring.  Then I was going to throw the money in Peter’s mother’s face and say, “Here’s your frickin money!!!”   But that was just fantasizing.  I never did anything but tell everyone how mean Peter’s mother was.  The whole event affected our relationship, too.  I couldn’t picture marrying into a family like Peter’s.  Imagine having a mother-in-law like that.  Peter started acting strange, too.  It was like he couldn’t look me in the eye, anymore.  We weren’t enjoying ourselves like before.  It seemed all we did was commiserate over the class ring.  His mother had hurt more than a young man’s esteem.  

Eventually, Peter found an after school job.  I saw less and less of him.  Soon he was gone.  But not the memory of his humiliation.  To this day, I think of his water filled eyes and shaky voice telling me that his mother was mad that he gave me the ring.  His mother had paid for it and wanted it back.

I couldn’t believe it then, and I still find it hard.  How could a mother humiliate her son like that?  Yes, she spoke the truth; she paid for it.  But that’s my point.  She was only thinking of herself, not her son.  She may have won a ring, but she also
lost a son.

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