Gary was a tiny square. He was scrawny and short with short 50’s style light brown hair, a “crew”, and kind of big ears. And he always wrote his Y’s backwards. He always wore striped jeans or little brown corduroys and little almost-tiny western cowboy shirts. Or little tiny Johnny-collar sweaters and teeny little Keds. And he wore the thickest thickest cool-cat black frame eyeglasses. And you’d think that even with those thick glasses and those funny ears and the way his voice cracked over and over itself, that he’d feel closed and awkward. But, he didn’t. His nose always wrinkled under those glasses, classic cute wrinkles under the bridge because of his constant crooked teeth smiles. (He had some big teeth and some baby teeth and some no teeth.) But he didn’t care. And with his scrunchy smiles came all his daily Kung Fu moves. “I LOVE Bruce Lee!” He’d say, every day, all day. “I LOVE Bruce LEE!”…Kung Fu move…then a glittery smile, a laugh, and “Don’t you?”
And Valentine’s Day was Gary’s Day. Every girl, including the teacher (Mrs. Doty), got a Valentine from him--sweetie cooey cooing hearty backwards-Y, delicately selected Valentine from Gary. And as he passed out his Valentines, he smiled his crooked teeth smiles and made a little thick spectacled eye contact right before he placed a tiny red envelope in their Valentine shoebox. With a tiny Kung Fu chop. And then, later, when Mrs. Doty said it was time to open the Valentines, he’d smile so proud. And one by one, he’d revisit each (girl’s) desk to make sure they got his and knew he meant what his Valentine said to her and her and her. He’d stop and gloss with that baby-killer smile.
Canoe be my Valentine?
You’re so deer, Valentine!
Hot Dawg! Be my Valentine!
Please put-put-put me in your heart, Valentine!
But I’m not sure he got many Valentines. I guess we just assumed he didn’t get too many Valentines back. But then he’d turn around and twinkle through those thick specs and hold up a card. “I CHOO-CHOO FOR YOU, TOO, VAL-EN-TIIINE!”
Kung-Fu Gary illustrated by Christopher Bettig...I LOVE LOVE this illustration. Not only is it in the style i love, but it actually looks like the kid i see in my head...especially the expression on his face! thx so much, c!!! i'll have to commission him to do a painting of this one day!