Wooing, Cree style

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Ahhh, Valentine’s Day, a day set aside for love, seduction and hopefully, more love. Today, Valentine’s Day is the only civic celebration that doesn’t have some sort of religion, authoritative icon, race or political endeavour about it, just plain old lovey-dovey stuff. It is the day of fancy lace, provocative hints, reminders of rekindled relationships or lost ones, a day that just about anyone with a heart can relate to. Making out was the desired outcome from cards and chocolates showered onto your beloved or your crush, but today it’s just a day set aside for reminding us that love can still be in the air.

Take, for instance, the old way of looking at Valentine’s, when receiving an elaborate heart-shaped card would bring out the misty eyes in your future spouse. Would he or she react strangely or would the message be thrown on top of all the others that your object of obsession tossed into the “in” basket (which could be called a trashcan)? Or would it actually last longer and be magnetically pinned to the fridge door? The suspense! The terror! The letdown… no, wait… she’s picking it off the floor… oh no, she missed the garbage can!

Back in the day, I found out that there were several different ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. One was to sneak into the old residential school late at night and raid the pantry for cookies, then sneak up to the girls’ dorm on the second floor to offer the cookies to the girls through the window. This actually worked for a few guys. Since the residential school system forbade an awful lot of things, such as friendship or love, this was like the icing on the cookie since cookies were a highly desired item. Chocolate was for the elite because it had to be bought at the store. So anyone seriously intent on hooking up had to work hard just to get the chocolate, much less the girl.

Wooing and singing popular songs of the time were close to sure hits for wooing gals in bobby socks (think of Happy Days and the Fonz). Brylcreem and even lard was used to keep our hair in place. A black leather coat was a sign of wealth and besides, dressing up to impress has always worked. After singling out your future wife, then you had to go and literally chase her for a few miles. In those days, everyone was in tiptop shape, so running a short marathon really helped in showing off your physique before a girl would even let you know you were of any calibre. The next generation, however, didn’t have it so easy.

The Happy Days generation soon had their offspring and then their kids had to go through the same thing, except… the wooing seemed to have slowed down and cut straight to the marrying. This seemed to be the way back in the day, when two sets of parents agreed to betroth their daughter to some son and everyone kind of knew that they would be married one day, usually before the 16th birthday. This new generation seemed to have a lot of shotgun marriages which sent a lot of fixed plans into disarray. Oh, the troubled parents over their disturbed teenagers! Thank St. Valentine for making a day just to set some hearts straight!

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