My rocky relationship with Valentine's Day started in high school, which sponsored a "Carnation Day" fundraiser the week of Valentine's Day. In reality, it was much more than a fundraiser. Carnation Day cemented the social status of the popular and the unpopular, the perfectly preppy and the awkward, the cheerleaders and the not-cheerleaders.
For $1.00 per stem, you could buy someone a specially colored carnation that symbolized your feelings about that person. Red, of course, was love. Send pink to someone you secretly admired. Buy white carnations for your friends. A red and white flower communicated your mixed emotions. Sending green meant you were jealous. One year the school even offered black, to send to classmates you hated. You could send the flowers signed, or anonymously.
I watched those tall Texas girls navigate the hallways under the weight of their long, straight, blonde hair, further burdened by toting fifty or more red, white and pink carnations. The football jocks juggling bouquets of carnations looked both sweet and ridiculous at the same time. All of it was too much eye candy for this short, kinky-haired brunette to bear.
What do Valentine's Day carnations have to do with shoes? Well, most days I was wearing this pair of brown leather wooden clogs. No doubt, on Carnation Day I was clomping through the high school corridors calling attention to my carnation-less-ness. Always needing something to distract me from my lack of red, or even white flowers, I distinctly remember wondering how in the world the intricate weaving on the top was created. One look at them now, and I know -- but in 1980 this manufacturing conundrum kept my mind occupied on something much less painful than carnations.
So I love clogs. Because of their awesome slip-on convenience, the two inches of subtle height they add to my stature, and that they got me through some tough times during high school.
I'm at peace with Valentine's Day, but I still can't shake my hate of carnations.