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Prairie Wool

Valentine mysteries

How do you know if a member of the opposite sex likes you? It’s an age-old question without any definitive answer. The affection others hold for us can be challenging to spot when we’re children, let alone adults.

Kids usually show it by trying to impress one another, making excuses to be close, even such as gentle pushing or shoving, or teasing, sometimes to the degree that it appears rude.

As usual, I have an example of these behaviors from my colourful/silly past. Although it seemed a bit of a stretch to consider this scenario to be flirting, my mother later assured me it was so.

I can picture it now, morning recess on the playground at Marshall School, 1967. For some unknown reason, at least to a pack of hollering first-grade students, part of the lawn had been roughly torn up with a cultivator.

Before exiting the classroom, our teacher, Mrs. Ranger, admonished us to stay clear of this area and not throw clumps of earth at one another. How well that lady understood the psyche of a six-year-old child.

We ran outside and huddled at the edge of the dirt. Oh, the temptation of fresh filth. However, with our teacher’s words ringing in our little ears, we turned away and moved dejectedly to the swing set until the bell, signalling the end of the break, rang. Albert Hoover stayed close by. He liked me.

As we dashed back to our studies, Albert detoured, ever so briefly, into the forbidden land, snatched up a smallish lump of sod, and tossed it my way.

“Bet you can’t hit me,” he jeered, leaping away.

The dirt crumbled on impact with my arm, but I jumped as though he’d lobbed a grenade at my person. A grin was plastered across his face as he jogged up the hill, waiting for my reaction. Had he foreseen the future, he might have chosen to step up his pace.

Failing to understand the finer nuances of flirting at this tender age, I viewed this action as a full frontal attack and responded accordingly. Veering with single-minded purpose to the restricted area, I seized a likely-looking clod and hurled it with deadly accuracy at the boy’s head.

BLAM! Right in the noggin. He plummeted to the ground, bowling over with a series of yowls that brought the entire schoolyard to a standstill. The teacher was summoned, his classmates gathered around, accusing glares were sent my way, and I subsided into a withering pile of remorse.

What had I done? Knocked him senseless? Killed the boy with one fell blow? Would I do prison time? Undergo public flogging? Be sent to juvie?

No one fully understood what juvie was, but it sounded terrible!

Thankfully no. I made an eloquent apology, was sent to detention and received a stern lecture on rule-breaking, dangerous roughhousing, and self-control.

Life went on.

Several months later, two interesting things happened. One, I was issued a marriage proposal by this same young man who felt I might be handy to have around in case of a zombie apocalypse. Two, I was urged to join the softball team as pitcher. (Good throwing arm.)

Not a tale brimming with love and Valentine’s Day sentiment, you might remark as we draw to a close. 

True, but it does illustrate how love conquers all and occasionally promotes you out of left field.

For more of Helen’s stories or to order her new, destination romance, go to

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