I remember my first Valentine’s Day crush like it was yesterday. I was barely a teenager and decided to attend the Valentine’s Day Dance at what we called the “old Lexington gym” on North Lake Drive in my hometown of Lexington, SC. The gym no longer exists, a victim of progress and functional obsolescence. For years, there were many terrific basketball memories that were made on that hardwood floor. After outgrowing the confines, Lexington High School moved to their new digs a mile north. Other intramural athletic events continued to be held at “the old Lexington gym” until it was finally torn down. By the end of its life, it was used mainly for the occasional dances which were supervised by parents and assumed the new nickname- The Lexington Canteen. I had just turned 13 and was excited about attending my first dance. I had a secret crush on a girl by the name of Genie Derrick, who even to this day never knew of my infatuation. She never knew it because I could never muster enough courage to speak to her, other than to ask her to dance. She was a tall drink of water (well… a half a head taller than yours truly). I was always outrunning my punt blocking even in my youth. In fact, she was taller than most of the kids at the dance, but that didn’t discourage me from asking her to “slow dance.” In those days, you put on a coat and tie to go to a dance. Coat and tie notwithstanding, I was still scared of girls. In many ways, nothing has changed a half century later. Women still make me nervous. Fast forward… three Valentine’s Day events later I am in high school. I was infatuated with another girl who was a head taller than me by the name of Gloria. My grandparents Tina and Eli Mack, Sr. had owned a jewelry store back in the day. Their jeweler, Bruce Cook, took over Lexington Jewelers after they passed. So he gave me a sweet deal on what they called a friendship ring in those days. When I gave her the ring, one of my football teammates asked me if it was a pre-engagement ring. Really? Are you serious? There are no secrets in small towns. The act of kindness never developed even into a first date, so that Valentine’s Day crush was flushed almost as soon as it ignited. The only true Valentine’s Day event that had any significance happened in 1972. I had just asked Christine, my wife-to- be, to marry me. I had done it over the Sign of Peace at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Columbia, SC, much to the disappointment of my in-laws- to-be. I had returned to the same jeweler Bruce Cook to select a modest engagement ring which I could barely afford. And 42 years later, we remain committed though less energetic (if you get my drift). It was that Valentine’s Day that finally took on special meaning. It was that Valentine’s Day that I came to appreciate the wisdom of Proverbs. “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy… She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness… Her children arise and call her blessed… Many women do noble things but she surpasses them all Ö Honor her for all that her hands have done and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” If you are blessed enough to find “that woman” then you will go to your grave with the peace and knowledge that you could never have made a better choice. You will never have regrets or misgivings. You march through your lives… hand-in- hand… side-by- side… knowing that the best is yet to come. You see it in the eyes and hearts of her children and her grandchildren. Love multiplies and divides amongst them. Yes, Proverbs is correct: “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good not harm, all the days of her life.” Get yourself that kind of woman and you’ll never go wrong!