In 1994, I was 14 years old and I had a major crush on the artist for the school newspaper. He was a good friend, sweet and funny and more talented than he realized. He had a girlfriend and I didn’t think he would ever think of me as more than just a buddy to hang out with after school, while we waited on our moms to pick us up.
We had met the year before, right before my 14th birthday. I was a freshman and he was a junior. I had seen him around and thought he was so cute, but he was two grades higher than me, practically a man in my opinion, and I had no idea how to introduce myself to him.
On the first day we spoke, I was standing outside in front of the gym with a friend, and he came walking up the sidewalk. He stopped right in front of me and bent to pick up a screw off the ground. Standing back up, he looked right at me, reached out his palm and said, “Hey there. I’m David. You want a screw?” It sounded remarkably like, “you wanna screw?” I was caught in this moment of pure panic – “he’s talking to me!!!” mixed with “did he just say what I think he just said?” – but before I could react, he was grinning and laughing and I giggled, taking the screw from him with a wink.
From that day on, we were friends. He wrote me notes asking advice on the girls he liked, and I cried on his shoulder when my own relationships didn’t work out like I’d hoped. My crush grew quickly, but I didn’t tell him, not wanting to chance losing his friendship.
On Valentine’s Day 1994, David came up to me between 1st and 2nd periods and slipped an envelope into my hand. “Happy Valentine’s, Heather. This is for you, but read it later,” he said. I’d exchanged dozens of little notes with him at this point, but this was a full size envelope… what could it be? I slipped into the girls’ room and peeled the heart sticker off of the flap. He had drawn the card and written me a silly poem about “our screw”, as we referred to our first conversation.
Roses are Red (see?)
Violets are Blue (actually, they’re a little off purple!)
If you don’t like it, screw you!
Have a nice day!
As silly as that might sound to you, it was amazing to me. It made me laugh out loud, and I couldn’t wait to see him at lunch to thank him. He hugged me, and it felt like I’d won a million dollars. It was my first Valentine’s Day card from a boy. Of course, I’d received plenty of the little cards that moms buy their kids to hand out to everyone in their elementary school class, but I’d never been the recipient of a real Valentine, drawn specifically for me.
A year later, David kissed me for the first time. After another year, we progressed to talking on the phone most nights and exchanging naughty notes, though we claimed it was all innocent fun and we would always just be friends. Three years after that first Valentine, David and I started dating and he took me to my Senior Prom. Though our status as boyfriend and girlfriend didn’t last the summer, we remained friends.
Thirteen years after that first Valentine’s card, I was in the throes of depression, having ended my marriage of six years. David was there to pick me up, hold me close and listen to my tears. The summer of the following year, we admitted that we kept coming back to each other, year after year, because we had never found another person who could fill the void that we each had, and our relationship became exclusive and serious.
It has now been nineteen years since that Valentine’s Day, almost twenty years since we first spoke… when this funny man who I adore offered me a screw and made me giggle. He still makes me giggle, every day, and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world that he is my husband.
And yes, I still have the screw.