Valentines Come in Many Forms.....

Love and Lascivious Produce

I was a “latch key” kid before anyone coined the term, for the simple reason that my parents worked odd hours. To the extent they could, they chose to work different shifts that would have one or the other at home with the kid – me – as close to 24-7 as possible. In later years, there were some unavoidable gaps, not usually more than an hour or two, hence the “latch key” element in my childhood.

But, it is not my guardianship that is the current topic, rather their ability to maximize what little time they had to share together…..and to keep love alive, so to speak, in endearing and sometimes amusing ways.

The times I remember best were times when my mother, a nurse, worked 7-11 nights, and my father worked a factory job either 3-11 or 4 to midnight. This guaranteed that someone was always there in the morning to get me off to school and in the hours after school to oversee homework, dinner and such. Yes, I had to lock the doors at 10:45 pm, when Mama set off on her five minute walk to the hospital. Dad would let himself in around midnight….later if he was doing overtime, which was frequent.

What this also guaranteed was that my parents could eke out a bit of together time while I was at school. This involved the juggling of sleep hours that were rarely adequate and always broken. Much of the time, therefor, they were the proverbial ships that pass in the night…..only it was hardly ever night, mostly at odd moments of the day while one or the other was groggy and sleep-deprived. A perfect recipe for romance.

Consequently, they left notes for one another….informative and/or loving messages written when one was awake and the other asleep or gone. Mama’s often explained where dinner was and how to heat it up, ending with X’s and O’s. Daddy’s noted that he had left the funnies or a packet of letters (yes, people still wrote letters then) for her to read at a certain location. Either the note or the funnies/letters were every so often nailed in place by a trio of objects, suggestive of romance yet to come….or, perhaps reminiscent of romance gone by. I have a clear recollection of a banana and two plums, the significance of which entirely escaped me until many years later. Carrots and small potatoes or beets….cucumbers and tomatoes spoke a clear message. A shamefully boastful zucchini and a couple of grapefruit could throw my mother into hysterics.

Discovering the true nature of human sexuality – told to me on the School 17 concrete steps by my eleven-year old classmate – was troubling enough. The suggestion that my own parents could have been involved in it, even peripherally, was more than I could fathom or accept. I was more convinced than ever that I must have been adopted!

Of course, I was not adopted…..and years later, I came to the realization and appreciation that my parents not only had a love life, but that they spoke of it to one another in fifty shades of vegetables.





Valentines - as well as love - come in many forms....