Monday, February 14, 2011

My Valentine Girl

A long time ago in a place far away, I fell for a cute little blond while in Manchester, New Hampshire. I was totally lost and alone at a (then) small party school for rich kids called New Hampshire College. The cute little blond and I were probably the only non-rich kids in the whole school. The college was relatively new and did not even require SAT scores, hence the dumping ground for all troubled rich kids everywhere. The only reason I was there was because it was the only application I'd completed of the dozens my Sicilian mother had given me in her hopes for the American Dream. Naturally, the school accepted me. So there I was.

The cute little blond was driven to be a good student by an inferiority complex while I cared more about how long I could keep winning to keep the pool table. The drinking age was 18 then and the snack bar served pitchers of beer for next to nothing. Not a good idea in retrospect.

The cute little blond, finished her two year degree in fashion merchandising. That was the stupidest major she could have possibly taken but her father had talked her out of the physical education path she had wanted to pursue. He didn't see the later trend in the booming fitness business. She never used the degree.

I had gotten a job at Radio Shack and was making relatively good money and lost interest in classes. After two and a half year, the college and I were ready to be rid of each other. Instead, I married the cute little blond. Soon after, our son was born.

Our son was perfect in every way. I'd never seen a more perfect looking baby. And he was my buddy. By then I was working the graveyard shift at a tannery in Berwick, Maine and had my days free to do whatever me and my handsome lad wanted to do. We went to the lake together, took walks, played baseball, watched baseball. He came with me to my bowling leagues and would go in the nursery with the other kids. All the babysitters there adored him. So did the waitress, Lisa, at the local Friendlies who always knew exactly what the boy wonder wanted to eat. Truth be told, his dad had as big a crush on Lisa as the boy wonder did.

I love my son more than anything. We had a great childhood together. We went to Disney. We shared baseball. I coached him in Little League. It was wonderful.

But as the years went by, there wasn't another child. I went about my work in the tannery and the cute little blond, who never did work, started her workout career. She eventually came in third in the Miss New Hampshire body-building competition. I won the New Hampshire bowling tournament, but I was far from the cute little blonde's fitness inspiration.

And so it became an unusual household. The boy wonder would bring his friends home, run past Dad and ask Mom to make a muscle. If he needed a jar or bottle open, he asked Mom. The joke became that Mom had the muscles and Dad's biological clock was ticking. I wanted another child. I wanted a girl.

But it didn't happen. The years went by. The cute little blond and I had marital troubles. She was prone to depression and was the analytical, plan-everything type of person. I was the "artist" and the dreamer. During one phase when reconciliation was occurring and the boy wonder was sixteen, that oops moment came and the cute little blond was pregnant. It was probably one of the rare occasions when her body fat was high enough to allow that to happen. Who knows. But at the age of 40, I was going to have another child. The question was, what sex would it be? We refused to find out during the exams by the doctor.

During the pregnancy, all kinds of opinions were offered. She's carrying high or low or something and it's going to be a boy. I held out hope for a girl. I steeled myself for whatever it might be, but I REALLY wanted a girl. This was all happening fifteen years ago.

At last, the cute little blond went into labor. We had moved to northern Maine by then and I took her to the hospital in Caribou. After a lot of fraught moments (the cute little blond was 40 after all), the baby was born...and it was a girl! And she was perfect. Next to her brother, she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. And she had full lips! That's an inside joke. I always kidded the cute little blond that she had chicken lips and kissed me like an auntie. We named her Shaina Lise (my ideas both) which to me is the perfect name. And she was born, most fittingly...on Valentine's Day.

She turned fifteen today. She's so far unaffected by the pitfalls of the teen years. She's a good girl. A while ago I told her that I had always wanted a little girl and that she has been everything and more that I ever wanted. She has the good looks of her mother with some of my better features. She's imaginative, ambitious, and unbridled in her outlook on life. Her favorite shirt says, "Today is going to be awesome."

Needless to say, I am as smitten with her as the first time I took her out of the birthing room to show her to her brother. The boy wonder, now a man, hugged me and said, "You have your little girl, Dad." It was a wonderfully touching thing for him to say and I'll never forget it. That was my first real Valentine's Day. There have been fifteen of them since. I will always treasure February 14th because that's the day my little Valentine girl was born.

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