LESLEY KEATING: Valentine's Day always seemed sweeter as a teenager

Wednesday is Valentine's Day '“ a day when thoughts turn to love, chocolate consumption hits an all-time high, roses reach crazily inflated prices and you can't get a table to eat anywhere more exotic than McDonalds if you haven't booked at least a month in advance.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 11th February 2018, 8:00 pm
Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

It was always such an exciting time when I was a teenager, with the anticipation of ‘would I get a card?’ followed by the crushing disappointment if I didn’t or, even worse, the red-faced embarrassment in front of my parents when the postman arrived if I did!

One year, when I was about 12, my dad sent me one, pretending he was some boy and I spent months afterwards shooting dirty looks at our neighbour’s puzzled son because I wrongly convinced myself it was from him.

In my experience, teenage Valentine’s Days were an exciting time to plot with your friends. We used to disguise our handwriting and postcards to boys from a different town to avoid detection.

Friends who’d been lucky enough to receive a card would bring them into school so we could all pore over them, trying to work out who they might have been from.

We all felt the mystery and excitement of that special once-a-year event would be even better once we had a ‘proper’ boyfriend. But it actually wasn’t.

Once you knew who was sending the card, the magic somehow disappeared and although it was lovely to be part of that undeniably special, elite social circle at school where you could proudly show off a card – which often came with a teddy bear or a piece of cheap costume jewellery – it was never quite the same again. The mystery had gone.

On Valentine’s Day when I was seven, I presented the object of my affections with a bar of chocolate I’d bought after ballet class with my pocket money.

I assumed he’d gaze into my eyes and declare undying love while we shared squares of Dairy Milk, but he scoffed the lot with barely a backward glance. A hard way to learn the way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach.


The world is full of misunderstandings. For example, my friend went for an informal interview for a bar job last year and as the owner stood up to greet her, leaning over to pull up a chair for her, she wrongly assumed he was going in for a hug. She still cringes about it.

I can top that now. The other day in a duty-free cosmetic store, I was happily trying foundation samples when a helpful sales girl came to advise and gave me a tissue to clean my hands.

After I made my purchase she solemnly held out her hand, which I shook enthusiastically smiling at such lovely old-fashioned manners.

Looking puzzled, she said: ‘No, I just wanted the dirty tissue back.’


At the airport we were treated to a spectacular tantrum by a little boy, who was in the queue for check-in with his mother and grandmother.

I’m not surprised he’d thrown a massive strop because it was an ungodly hour to be up and the queue was never-ending. I was considering throwing a tantrum myself because it was taking so long to drop our bags off).

Everyone knows toddlers can be unpredictable so why on earth didn’t his mum, under the circumstances, pick him up and try to distract him or engage him with stories about how he was ‘going on a big aeroplane up in the sky’ rather than let him crawl about screeching his head off, with a face like a boiled beetroot?