My Sixth Grade Valentine's Day Horror Story

Disclaimer: Not that it really matters, but the names used in this story have been changed. Everything else is the sad, cringe-worthy truth. 

Every Feb. 14 I reflect on the anniversary of the worst day of my middle school career. During that stage of life, I carried a zebra print clipboard to all of my classes and was in desperate need of braces. I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who really thrived during those three formative years—most of us were awkward, insecure and ugly in a cute(ish) way.

Especially in 6th grade, hormones aren’t rampant quite yet. No 12-year-old knows what they are looking for in a romantic relationship, so hearing that someone “has a crush on you” is enough for you to feign attraction in return. Honestly, these fake feelings of interest are one of the most powerful forces in the middle school ecosystem. I was a victim of this “If they like me, then I must like them!” phenomenon. I heard through the grapevine that a boy—Aidan—liked me, and my 12-year-old brain began to reciprocate that crush. Aidan was a “good egg” sort of kid: quiet, always did his homework, played the trombone (poorly) and was always deep in a fantasy book series that probably involved dragons.

self-love Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media I launched a foolproof strategy to kick-start this relationship, and it all began with Valentine’s Day. Students could pay 25 cents to send a “candygram” to a peer, which was a personalized message with a lollipop. I went full Robert Frost and wrote Aidan a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking poem that would lead him to find me. I no longer have this chef-d'oeuvre in my possession, but it likely went something like this:

I like you, do you like me?

We sit near each other in class B3. 

My hair and eyes are both brown,

and in the library, I am often found.

I wrote several stanzas of pure artistic perfection and sent my work off in “candygram” form. The situation was out of my control—if Aidan could decode my mysterious message on Valentine’s Day, he’d know it was time to make a move! He’d be my boyfriend, which could only lead to engagement, marriage and happily ever after.

Feb. 14 finally rolled around, and I spent every moment of that morning trying to pretend that I was A-OK! Luckily I didn’t share my homeroom class with Aidan, as this was the candygram distribution site. My classmates read their messages and sucked on Tootsie Pops as I imagined how I’d gracefully accept his offer of romance. Aidan was surely reading and rereading my poem now, dreaming up the best way to approach me! 

Chaos ensued as I walked down the hall towards my next class. A pack of fellow sixth-grade girls swarmed me like vultures to roadkill. “Was that you? Did you send Aidan that candygram? Mr. Davis read every single candygram out loud to our class and he read that entire poem. Yeah, he was super dramatic, like he was performing. We were all losing it! Well, did you write it?”

My cheeks turned redder than those Valentine’s Day roses. Apparently, my writing skills were just too descriptive! Luckily I’ve blocked out my own rebuttal, as well as the snide comments I received the rest of the day. I’m sure many 12-year-old eyeballs stared into the back of my head as the news spread. 

Lollipop Kate Zizmor / Spoon

My resentment for Mr. Davis soared. He was my life science teacher, but clearly, he knew nothing about chemistry. Meanwhile, Aidan and I began to avoid each other more than I avoided my math homework (I don’t know if I cried more over Valentine’s Day or that homework). There was no discussion between us, let alone a secret romantic rendezvous. In reality, the whole situation was probably worse for him—imagine your teacher reading you a passionate confession of love while your classmates snicker at you.

Nine years have passed and I’m able to laugh at the situation. I have no idea where Aidan is, considering his lack of public social media profiles. I hope he’s doing well, and I hope that the incident didn’t scar him too badly. Aidan, if you’re reading this, can you send me a copy of that poem? Maybe I’ll add it to my writing portfolio.