Valentine’s Day

I’m not really a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s not because I’ve never had anyone on the day or anything. I tend to find myself occupied on February 14th most of the time. This year is my second time around with Nic. Here’s the card I made her.

Really, of all the puns, I had to choose this one.
Really, of all the puns, I had to choose this one.

This reminds me of one of my first encounters with Valentine’s Day. It was 1st grade. So, like 1992. I was the only Latino kid in class, and for some reason the teacher called me Dagoberto instead of Dago. I liked Dago/Daguito better. On February 14th, all the kids did their usual thing. We all exchanged Valentine’s Day cards with our classmates’ names on them. Here’s one for Erin, Whitney, etc. I got a bunch in my little brown paper bag I had decorated, and I was ready to go home and survey my keep.

I got home and emptied the contents of my brown bag onto the kitchen table. My parents and I started going through all of the Valentine’s. For the most part, everyone nails it. Name is right. The cards either hold candy or are accompanied by candy. There might be a heartfelt message inside like, “Hapy velentines dey Dago.” The real honest stuff.

I get to one of the last ones. I turn it over, and on the front, it says, “To: Dago-bruto. From: Demon Girl Who Just Ruined Everything.”

I tried to hide it from my parents because I knew they would make fun of me (that’s my relationship with my parents and why I absolutely cannot stop laughing at things). My Dad snatched it out of my hand and read it out loud. “Dago… bruto? Mira, Judy. DAGO-BRUTO!” Cue the five minutes of tear-inducing laughter from my parents and me sitting in my chair arms crossed with tears in my eyes from embarrassment.

For those of you who don’t know, bruto means “gross” or “crude” in Spanish — “stupid” even if you say it in the right context. Of course, I wasn’t the slightest bit gross at 6. I was a genteel, Southern gentleman, like I am today. Nothing’s changed. My parents couldn’t believe the mix up. The girl who wrote it obviously didn’t mean any harm. She didn’t speak Spanish, but to this day, I am still reminded of and referred to as DAGO-BRUTO when I mess up.

So, thanks little girl. You ruined my life and Valentine’s day.


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