To the person who spelled my middle name incorrectly on my birth certificate: I applaud you for your creative license. You took a strange spelling (Ilene) and turned it into an even stranger spelling (Ileen). You recognized that although I was merely minutes old, I strove to be unique.
To my first grade teacher who looked at my deranged, curly hair and asked me “Doesn’t your mother ever comb your hair?” Yes, bitch, she did. Whoops, I thank you for caring enough about my personal grooming to have said something.
To the doctor who said, “It’s fun getting your tonsils out. You can eat all the ice cream you want afterward.” I thank you for this. Although swallowing ice cream right after the surgery was the equivalent of swallowing sandpaper with nails embedded in it; I was able to eat it and enjoy it in vast quantities the following day. And thanks to your permission, I have continued to do exactly that for the fifty-five years that have followed.
To Mrs. Lavin, my sixth-grade teacher, who had me spend day after day transferring her knitting patterns onto graph paper: To this day, the sight of tiny x’s gives me an anxiety attack. But the permanent lipstick on your teeth has taught me the importance of blotting. I thank you for that.
To the girl in junior high who used to sit across from me in the lunchroom, whose dirty overly-long nails would sink into her white bread sandwich: I thank you for impressing upon me the importance of both keeping my nails clean and avoiding white bread.
To Danny, who accepted my invitation to my senior prom, waited until I had purchased tickets, then told me he couldn’t go with me: I thank you for notifying me before my dress was purchased. And, if you are reading this now, know that I did get my money refunded for the tickets. I’m sure you have worried about this over the years.
To the boy who chased me around a bed in college: I later learned that being chased around a bed could, indeed, be tons of fun. Just not with you.
To the woman in the coat department who refused to sell the thirty-year-old me a coat until I brought my mother in: I was upset with you then. I wish I could hug you now.
To the person who, on the day I joined a gym, said, “Gyms make money from people like you. They join and then never go.” I thank you. Because of that one remark, I committed to proving you wrong. I have been going to the gym regularly for thirty-six years now, still proving you wrong.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dearest Buttheads! I wouldn’t be the ME I am today without you.
Renee Fisher is a former special ed teacher, now a realtor since 1979. She is the author of several published short stories and the co-author of two books for women over age 50. She is a Featured Blogger with Huffington Post and the Boomer Humor Examiner for www.examiner.com. Her website is www.lifeintheboomerlane.com. She lives in the Washington, DC area with Now Husband Dan and Miracle the Cat (who is no miracle).