213 | Black Tuesday

February 16, 2012
Thursday, 6:00 p.m.
Letter #213: Black Tuesday


Dear Family,

I survived. Yet another Valentine’s Day passed me by without doing too much lasting damage. Black Tuesday—as I affectionately called it this year—didn’t hold much hope as it approached, but I did enjoy a bit of reminiscing, looking back on the V-Days gone by. My, how times change. So, in honor of Black History Month …

First, they were called “Talontine’s Days,” like something from a wilderness horror flick, just because I couldn’t seem to pronounce the word correctly. Or, I copied my twin brother’s jacked-up speech. Either way, I butchered the V like a foreigner.

My only true Talontine in those early days was Mommy, who, in true mother fashion, did absolutely nothing to correct me. Oh, I was spanked for forgetting to not be rude at the table, so how could she not tell a kid who is 90% German that he is pronouncing the V sound incorrectly?!? Heresy.

In first grade, I was put into a Christian school. Heather was cute, the way she blew her bangs, but she and I never had a chance, thanks to Lisa Rameros. (I have added an “s” at the end of her name to protect her privacy and anonymity.) I did not know the ways of women, but Lisa did. Every recess, she chased me, and I mean chased me. I refused to be caught, because at least I knew what the outcome was if I didn’t get caught. The fear of the unknown motivated me.

Then V-Day approached, and everyone had cupcakes and little notes and weird chalky candies with bizarre messages on them telling you to do things far worse than use bad table manners: Be Mine, Fax Me, Hug Me, Call Me. Ha! Never! I’d rather pull up tall weeds after a light rain and toss them with their large mud clods attached, slinging them across the schoolyard and accidentally into Michelle’s face, exploding into her lunchbox. Lisa was still chasing me, but Heather wasn’t as impressed as she should have been. Another Black Valentine’s Day.

My teens were just a continuation of trying to survive V-Day. A girl I liked in the San Jose Symphony’s Youth Orchestra gave me an entire box of chocolates, which I made last for a few months longer than our relationship.

In my early twenties I worked at a Christian ministry we’ll just refer to as the Institute in Basic Life Principles, which may or may not be its actual name. This place was incredible! If beautiful Christian girls are like a refreshing drop of rain, the ministry was a monsoon of refreshment. And all us guys were issued umbrellas. I celebrated Valentine’s Day sporting a very hopeful heart-and-Dalmatians tie, but … no Valentine.

Later in my twenties I turned down a handful of inquiring potential lifelong Valentines, was turned down by a few myself, and then finally made it to the wedding-planning stage with another before backing out of that near-disaster for her just before our third V-Day together. I found a willing date online (no, it wasn’t ChristianMingle.com or EquallyYoked.com) and had a very expensively boring dinner with her for that unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

Now this place really puts the “man” in “romantic.” It’s not like I had a special someone to call, but thanks to the immature idiots who attacked each other here, on Valentine’s Day the entire facility went on lockdown and no one got to make phone calls. (Who brings a microwave to a fistfight, anyway? Would throwing a microwave be classified as launching a nuclear weapon?) I was so disappointed, but I couldn’t even wear black in protest, since I am not allowed to wear or even own black clothing. Bummer.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty of special Valentine’s Days in the future, when it’s the proper time for all that. (Hopefully, for her sake, I’ll have matured a bit by then.)

As Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling (in the voice of Jesus): “Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in My kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells. Quietness and trust enhance your awareness of My Presence with you. Do not despise these simple ways of serving me. My Strength and Power show themselves most effective in weakness.”

Quietness. Trust. I’m getting to know the One who has pursued me my entire life and who finally caught me once I slowed down and let Him. But I’ve taken up running to prepare for when I get released from prison. Lisa is still out there somewhere, and that scares me.