Val's Day > Valentine's Day, and here's why...


I know we all know what tomorrow is, not least of all because the telecommunication companies have been ringing it in our ears: “welcome to the month of love”. From the look of some of the posters going around it appears that, not wanting to be left out of any arena, some of our churches have jumped onto this bandwagon with ridiculous programming that will make even spas that provide “happy ending services” blush in response.

Like candy floss and roller-coaster rides, my excitement over Valentine’s Day peaked and waned in secondary school, where it was called Val’s Day and had words like hardest babe, hot cake, don and roasto associated with it. Val’s Day was a big deal in ACO (my boarding high school), a big, big deal. It was the highlight of our second term; with the highlight of the first term being coming back to school after summer holidays, and the highlight of the third term being socials! Valentine’s Day had its own cultural norms and traditions >> many of which served to confer social standing in the world of secondary school students.

Some of my favorite memories surrounding Val's Day include:

In ACO everything was contraband, which added to the excitement of receiving any gift because you knew that the guy (I can’t speak for guys here) who came through had overcome an obstacle course filled with traps just to give you chocolates, perfume or a teddy bear. He would first need to navigate the lava pool of getting enough money from his parents to buy the present (on the pretext of getting something else obviously); following which, he would have to scale through the wall that is the search of your belongings at the beginning of term; finally, he would need to survive the stray bullets that are random locker and suitcase searches >> yeah, almost (exactly?) like we were in prison.

The journey to being a hot cake was long, and except for certain people, only truly started in senior secondary school. The protagonist in my memories of Val’s Day as a junior are my numerous school mothers and senior friends, and not me. In form 1, I was one of a handful of girls that got cards, I think a couple of girls got presents, like small teddy bears. In form 2, I got a dirty card, that didn’t even come with an envelope. I wish I still remember what it said, in my innocence/trauma at the card, my reaction was to toss it away and immediately repress its message. Form 3 and 4, were extremely dry years. Cards, don’t really count, I mean, they count in our hearts (the sweet person who gave me a card in form 1, not the vulgar one in form 2), but in terms of being reckoned with and gaining babe points in dormitory, they don’t count. In truth, nothing really counts as much as the boxes of chocolate that can be shared. To be sure, it is better to get perfume in addition to chocolates, than to get only chocolate, but it is better to get only chocolate than to get only perfume. In other words {Perfume + Chocolate > Chocolate > Perfume > Teddy Bear}. Geez, I can’t believe we all willingly participated in this complex social structure without ever once articulating these rules, but just imbibing them and I can’t believe I am dorky enough to convert it into a formula. Point is that like most of my contemporaries, and seniors before me, I roasted my first 4 years of secondary school.

When a senior babe crosses the threshold of our dormitories on the night of Val’s Day hands laden with her bounty (much later than the rest of us, because she had to stay back after prep to collect her loot), she arrives into the most magnificent thunderous chorus of praise from her classmates and juniors, celebrating her like she just won the Super Bowl.  There would typically be more seniors than usual in such a babe’s room, present to inspect how well her boyfriend had performed (LMAO… I kid you not! This is a bit shameful now recollecting it). Then based on his performance words like don and phrases like "he tried o..." would have been thrown around. They would obviously share the chocolate. As a junior, you were lucky if you had a school mother or senior in your room who was a babe, and I had my fair share of those (Thank Jesus!). It gets even better, depending on how many boxes of chocolate she got, the said babe would then proceed on a tour around our hostel bestowing these favors on her special juniors, who hadn’t dared leave their dorm room for her bedside (seeing as seniors were gathered there and by this time, it would be past lights out, but no lights would be out). This was of course the victory lap that declared her a babe, not just to the girls in her room, but to all the girls in the school. As with all things in ACO, chocolate was tiered, with Ferrero Rocher being the ultimate, I always loved Milk Tray.

In form 6, I was faced with the challenge of what and how I would gift my boyfriend. I eventually decided on Chocolates, Cool Water and Timberlands. I was able to buy the chocolates and perfume, but couldn’t get to LoP to buy the timbs. Luckily my classmate was at my house that day and he was coming back to school later than the rest of us (I think he had some exam, maybe SATs) so I gave him money to buy them, which later entered story that they were confiscated, but shoes were not contraband though, so I never understood what really happened, but who was I going to report to? Although I was a maga for trusting him, I was incredibly proud of my spark of brilliance regarding how I kept the contraband items safe from random searches >> honestly, this is one of my top 10 proudest accomplishments in ACO (forget the fact that I was the first girl {I know this will cause uproar, but it is there in my diary, so let's just say one of the first girls} on S120 or that I mostly got 20/20 in my Physics tests), but please don’t tell my mama this. With no prior experience in American jails, but having watched a lot of Matlock, MacGyver and read many Sidney Sheldon books, I had the genius idea to hide the chocolates and perfume in a pillow; so I unsealed a pillow put the items in there with the foam and sewed the pillow back up. Then I kept the pillow in my locker. We did get searched and people did cry because their contraband was taken from them, but not me!

In my 6 years of witnessing gifting in ACO, the winner of Cugo’s ultimate babe award is one of my best friends FKZR who got amongst other things, 2 name brand watches (including the Seiko Kinetic Watch >> which most of us had never even heard off, the thing probably cost more than our entire shopping money for all of the summer) #levels #endofdiscussion #caseclosed #battleandwarover

And this my friends, is why, in my opinion, cliché Valentine’s Day on the outside can never rise to the level of Val’s Day on the inside >> the anticipation, the intrigue, the danger, the scarcity, the betrayals and finally the spoils, the acknowledgement and the status.

How was Valentine’s Day when you were a teenager? How do you celebrate now? What has been your favorite Valentine’s experience? How do teenagers celebrate now? I would love to hear.

If you are part of a couple, I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with excitement and giddiness, but more importantly, I pray that your love is celebrated with as much fervor all year through. And if, like me, you are not part of a couple, gawn girl, love yourself extra extra tomorrow.