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HomeFeaturesEntertainmentThe Great Post-Valentine's Day Pea War - 1971

The Great Post-Valentine’s Day Pea War – 1971

By Deb Thomas.

How do you remember Valentine’s Day? I’ve been thinking about a Valentine’s Day kiss I received when I was in the spring semester of ninth grade. It was the first of its kind and I’ve never forgotten it.

As a freshman, I’d finally been able to go to monthly dances in the gym, and I noticed someone I knew from junior high looking at me when I walked to the stage to see the band up close. It was Wayne, now a year older and a little more grown up. He was certainly a lot more attractive to me now. I sure wanted to get him to dance with me. How simple the laws of attraction are when you are almost fifteen.

Music was live and loud. J. Geils’ Band from Worcester, The James Montgomery Blues Band from Boston and another Boston based band —Aerosmith; were among the great bands that came to our northeastern Connecticut high school. Someone, somewhere in our administration had connections; lucky us.

Kids from other schools were being allowed to participate in our dances and I noticed that Wayne’s eyes watched when one of the boys from another school asked me to dance. He was smooth on the dance-floor, and equally articulate, and polite when we took a break. In a matter of a few dances I thought he was just about the perfect guy. He told me he wanted to be a teacher; we talked about the books we read and things we liked to do and I was hooked. Yet, I could feel Wayne’s laser focus, atomic ray-gun eyes flashing me warning signals in the dark from across the room, especially when the other boy kissed me on the cheek to say goodnight.

A few weeks later, the Valentine Dance happened. Aware of the powerful feelings running through my brain, I still remained keenly alert for any encounter with Wayne, that recalcitrant, mysterious, taunting, leather jacketed, boy-man of my deepest dreams. Why he was so slow? I wanted his idiot friends to slap him into reality.

The slap came one day at lunch. In line together, Wayne teased me by saying, “I saw you dancing. You should take some lessons.”

I was crushed, but instead of leaving things alone, I thought the bowl of peas on my tray seemed like a great weapon. As Wayne exited the line, I followed him to where he sat, dumped the peas on his head and kept walking right out of the cafeteria. Behind me, though, peas were being thrown. Missile Peas launched, everywhere. Yelling, everywhere.  Cafeteria food being thrown at the walls, everywhere. The room exploded, the call of “food fight” rang out, and I ran toward the hallway, away from the chaos, tears blinding me. I was so very hurt.

Later in the week, after detentions were handed out and the boys from my table were made to clean the cafeteria, something happened when I went to my locker. I had been  going there only when necessary, as it was another place where Wayne’s space overlapped mine. But at one point, Wayne was there and slammed my locker door shut. Looking all smug, and haughty, he said, “I don’t think you should dance with a boy like that.”

I yelled back, “WHY?”

“BECAUSE HE’S UGLY,” came the loud reply.

Unable to leave his words floating in front of me, I offered up, “HAVE YOU LOOKED IN THE MIRROR LATELY?”

I was aware that a crowd gathered. The air simmered thick with amped- up hormones. I briefly had the power to reach in for that sweet, sweet kiss that I craved, but instead, the bomb-bay doors opened and incendiary words annihilated their target, crushed it.

Of course time stood still. But only long enough for Wayne to reach out and grab me by my shoulders; then and there, he kissed me.

There weren’t, and still aren’t any – words to describe that kiss. He took my breath away. He took my sadness and frustration and replaced those things with the smooch of all smooches. He annihilated me. He crushed me. It was the smooch by which I would judge all subsequent smooches; the best kiss of my life.

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