Have you ever received an anonymous gift or a note? I’m not talking about the unsigned note passed to you at school from the boy or girl who had a crush on you, or the annual office “secret Santa” gift exchange, or the bouquet of flowers delivered without a note (but that was obviously from your ever-lovin’, even though they pretended they knew nothing about it). No, I’m not talking about the “real deal:” a mysteriously anonymous greeting.
I got the postcard pictured here in the mail this past Valentine’s Day. Handwritten on the back was only, “Valentine to…” followed by my name, address and a local postmark. No signature, no other message, no return address.
Most readers, I’m sure, are fixated on the odd picture of a tomato shaped like a heart with the words, “Grow It.” Trust me when I tell you that I’d rather receive this card than one emblazoned in pink with fluffly flowers, a couple of cute-n-cuddly forest animals bundled together in a puppy-love pose, accompanied by a horribly sappy love rhyme written in curly cue cursive. A card like that, sent anonymously, would be deeply, deeply disturbing to me. And nauseating.
The card I received indicates—a least, that’s what I thought when I saw it—that the sender knows something about me. You see, I have a running joke that relates to anything shaped like a heart. I won’t go into it (it would take too long to explain), but simply suffice it to say that when I pulled the card out of my mailbox I did not look at it with confusion, as would most people, but immediately (thought I) understood the gag. I then laughingly cursed all of my friends and family who know the joke, and was prepared to immediately mock-scold them for poking fun at me.
The question is, why anonymous? If I recognized the handwriting on the back, then that would be one thing, but I did not recognize the handwriting at all. I know the handwriting of all the usual suspects who would pull a gag like this, so I thought maybe one of them had someone else write the address so I wouldn’t recognize the writing. I studied the picture some more. I didn’t recognize the hand holding the tomato, nor the patio in the background. And the card was clearly not commercially produced.
This was going to take some effort to discover who sent this. However, I figured, once I finally corner the culprit, I’ll learn the rest of the story of where they got the picture. I shot an email off to my top-five pick of potential pranksters.
“Nope, not me, but wish I had thought of it! That’s funny!” was the resounding reply I got back from all five of them.
Having eliminated the immediate circle of possible suspects, I needed to widen my net and get more input, so I showed the card to others. All denied culpability.
“An old flame?” One friend offered. I thought about it, and there are two that would do something like this, but it’s been too many years, so…highly doubtful.
“Should I be flattered, amused, or wary? I mean, what’s the point of being so aggressively anonymous?” I asked everyone. No one had an answer.
Two of my siblings asked if I knew of others that received similar cards. “What, like, maybe its an invitation to join a community garden club? Then why not sign it?” I asked them. I told them I know of no others that received a similar card.
“It’s a British thing,” another friend suggested. “Know any Brits?”
“What do you mean, ‘British thing’?”
“Sending an anonymous valentine; that’s a British thing. Only you are supposed to pretty much know who it’s from.”
While any number of my friends and family would know about this ‘British thing’ of sending an anonymous valentine greeting, I know only two English ex-pats, and only as a casual professional acquaintances. I don’t know a Brit who, 1) knows me well enough to know I would get a kick out of a heart-shaped tomato, 2) Any UK national who would arrange to have a card sent to me with a local postmark. I think. I do have an Aussie relative who heads up an organic produce co-op, but she’s also saddled with 5 kids and a husband that works long hours and weekends. I can’t imagine she would have time for anything like this.
“Maybe he thinks you are quite a tomato yourself! Maybe he/she wants to squash you into spaghetti sauce!” I shook that suggestion off.
“No,” I declared. “It’s a heart, and they took the picture themselves or found it somewhere, and it’s about the joke, because if it’s anything else, then it really is creepy, like, stalker-creepy, kind of creepy.”
All agreed. It was meant to be silly, maybe a bit flirtatious (it is, after all, a valentine), but not salacious or predatory.
About a month later I received an invitation to the opening of an art exhibit of an artist acquaintance of mine. I immediately recognized the handwriting on the invite as the same as the Valentine. Turns out, the tomato Valentine was a kind of pre-advertisement for the exhibit.
Ah, well. I guess I’m not quite the tomato.