Wednesday, February 14, 2007

secret admirers

A couple of years ago I developed a crush on a co-worker who had recently divorced. Knowing that office romance can be difficult my head was hesitant to explore the situation but my heart was dying to proclaim my attraction. The attraction seemed to be reciprocated but I waffled. As Valentine's Day approached I thought I would explode if I didn't say something to my co-worker. I can't remember if it was Valentine's Day or the eve before, but I remember it was cold and it was raining a little as I left work that night. It was about 9 pm or so and I was the last person to leave. My car was the only one in the parking lot. As I approached it I noticed something on the windshield. It was a large cellophane bag full of potpourri. And not cheap potpourri either. It turned out to be the best-smelling longest-lasting potpourri I've ever had. There was no card, no note, no indication of who had left it on my car. I got very excited, thinking it was from my latest crush. But no, when I asked, he didn't seem to know anything about it. I was crestfallen but I asked my other co-workers, first my male friends, then my female friends, then a few other people. No one knew anything. I never found out where it came from. Still, it made for a really nice Valentine's Day.

Maybe it was payback for something I had done years before. In college I developed a crush on a guy who habituated the class ahead of mine. I would see him each Tuesday-Thursday as my class filtered into the classroom and his class departed. Several women in my class also had crushes on him and I learned his name. No one seemed to know for certain if he was single or married. Again, Valentine's Day approached. I had the guy's address and I thought it would be clever to send him an anonymous valentine just to make his day. I found a lovely romantic card with a single rose on it. I wanted to disguise my handwriting so I addressed the envelope using newspaper clippings. It looked like the proverbial "kidnap note" from old gangser movies, but I didn't think about that at the time. I had done collaged lettering for small art projects and it just seemed like a natural contrast - the pretty card concealed by the rough-hewn lettering on the envelope. At the last minute I printed a short message on an anonymous dot-matrix printer (I told you it was years ago!) with my phone number and paper-clipped it to the card, just in case the guy was available and mailed it. I had the satisfaction of then seeing him twice a week knowing he had had a wonderful valentine arrive in the mail. A year or more went by and I forgot about it until out of the blue I got the phone call I'd hoped for at the time. We talked and I found out what had happened to my card. I guess the guy was unusually paranoid because when he saw that collaged address (the kidnap note) and felt something solid inside the envelope (the paper clip) he thought it was a letter bomb. He put it in the trunk of his car and drove to the police station where he reported it to the bomb squad. They gingerly removed the thing and x-rayed it. The officer told him, "it's a paper clip." So he opened the letter there in the presence of the (probably highly amused) officers and sure enough, it was a pink paper clip with a phone number attached to a card of hearts and flowers. I don't remember what his reaction was but he did save the card and eventually called the phone number. Things didn't work out, by the way.

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