Stanley and Blanche were married a year ago. They decided on a site that suited them best: the corner of the playground where they used to play kickball. The bride and groom wore matching black hoodies and jeans. The guests carried with them the handwritten invitations that had been generated by their friends the day before. There they stood, in front of God and the fifth grade, ready to spend the rest of their lives together, or at least until promotion carried them off to different middle schools. Or they realized what they had done.
This union was not ordained or sanctioned by any adult, and the chances are great that if Stanley or Blanche's parents had found out what was going on in the corner of the playground that day, there would have been a much swifter annulment. It was much to the chagrin of the teachers and most of the students that such a gala event took place. Eyes on the yard are most often searching for unpleasantness, vague or otherwise. A wedding was a much more civilized affair than we were prepared. We weren't invited. Besides, what do grownups know about love?
That was the memory that unspooled for me a week ago when I saw Sam chasing Diane across the yard. My trained eye told me that since they were both giggling, I could ratchet it down the priority list. I did make a point of asking Diane, on the way out of school that afternoon, "So, are you and Sam," using air quotes, "Sam and Diane?"
As shocked look. "Noooo!" came the low growl of a response. "Why would you say that?"
I started to explain about how when I was in elementary school a grownup had explained to me that sometimes when boys and girls chase each other they're not always trying to hurt one another. Sometimes it's the way they show that they like each other. That and I noticed how Sam had been hanging around the front of school after dismissal, even though he usually walked home.
"I don't know. It's just what I heard."
A week passed. Heading back into the school to get a drink of water, Diane stopped, turned and in a stage whisper, "Sam and I are a thing."
"Is it a secret?"
"So you don't mind if I tell your teacher?"
"No. Yes! Don't tell our teacher."
"So it is a secret."
Not anymore. Valentine's Day is coming.