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A sign that romance still flourishes today

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POSTED February 14, 2014 1:15 a.m.

The kid looked guilty. 

It was apparent that what he was doing something that he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He kept pacing back and forth and would squat down periodically as if he were being watched by somebody or something.

Now, normally this wouldn’t even register with me. You know that scene in “Shawn of the Dead” when the main character walks to work in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and doesn’t even realize that society around him has fallen to pieces. That’s me. They called me and asked if they could model that part of my life for their movie. Simon Pegg owes me a lot of money. 

But this particular kid happened to be standing where Louise Avenue crosses Highway 99. Any one of a number of scenarios here could turn my otherwise peaceful day into a rather tragic one. I don’t want to see anybody jump off of a bridge. And – and I’m being completely honest here – I really didn’t feel like making the sort of phone calls a reporter has to make when somebody does have to do that. 

Burdensome isn’t the right word. It just casts a pallor. 

I stopped. And I turned around. And I made another pass. And then another. Now at this time I was comically large for the car that I was driving, and I have to think that I stuck out like a sore thumb. But it was obvious that what he was doing – something involving the fence and his hands – wasn’t going to involve him plummeting onto the pavement below. And he looked old enough to know that throwing something into traffic is a very, very stupid idea. 

There is a point here. And it does have to with love. Bear with me. 

I eventually left and had it not been for a trip down Highway 99 I had to make later that day, I probably would have forgotten that this particular kid even existed. 

Because there, tied off in the bright tape amongst the weaving steel grid of the chain-link, was a sign that some lucky young girl isn’t going to forget anytime soon – “Katie – Prom?” 

Who wouldn’t say yes to that?

Now I’m sure this is illegal. And that, by extension, probably makes it not very smart. But I’ll be damned if that kid isn’t going to be remembered for the rest of his life by that girl for going out of his way to do something that took just a little bit of ingenuity, time and bravado. 

People all over the world today are going to exchange gifts that range from diamond tennis bracelets to conversation hearts. Everybody knows that Valentine’s Day is commercial. You’d be hard-pressed to find any adult in a serious relationship that doesn’t know that going above-and-beyond one day out of the year is more out of a sense of tradition than anything else. 

The actual historical tradition of the day is quite brutal. 

Sometimes, however, it takes a 16-year-old kid on a mission to remind us that there is still beauty in the world. Sometimes it takes seeing somebody doing something a little bit crazy – and a little bit illegal – to go back to a time when the most complicated things in the world were really the simplest. 

There’s an Internet meme that makes the rounds that shows the breakdown of the needs of the human being according to famous people throughout history. And the one that always seems to resonate, as cliché as it might be, is the pie-chart of The Beatles – a solid, red circle with the word “love” in the middle. 

It might not be all that we need. But it’s enough. 

So enjoy the flowers or the candy or the candlelight dinner or the illegally-hung freeway overpass sign. We’ve got 364 other days to complain about how the world is a cold, dark desolate place. 

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