The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Caleb and Henry - Swapping Valentines

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1985

Issue: February, 1985

After last Valentines Day, Caleb and Henry found out they had both been courting the widow sisters. Up to that point, they hid it from each other thinking the other would poke fun at him. Perhaps each were also a little afraid the other would try to "steal his girl." The cat was out of the bag when they both showed up on Valentines Day at practically the same time. Since then, they had done most of their courting together, as called double-dating. Nothing serious mind you, but still time spent in enjoyable companionship for all four of them. Now, with another Valentines Day coming up, they all considered it a sort of anniversary and wanted to make it special.

"Henry, you ain't gonna go mushy at Valentines the way you did last year, are you?"

"Caleb, you can just hold your tongue! You weren’t ten steps behind me getting to the ladies house last Valentine Day.”

"Now Henry, no need to get all riled up. I was just thinking that this year we might do something different. How about I call up the sisters and we take them into town to eat at a restaurant and maybe even spring for a movie?"

"I don't know, Caleb. I ain't heard of many movies I'd think proper to take a lady to see in the last 20 years. I wouldn't want to embarrass the ladies."

Caleb chuckled, "You're the one that would most likely get embarrassed if anyone would. Henry I tell you, these ladies lived in the city before coming back here to retire. They probably know more than me and you both put together. Don't be so goldarn old fashioned!"

Henry just sniffed and sat back with his arms folded across his chest. Caleb knew when Henry did that, it was the last word and there was no moving him out of his opinion. If they included a movie in their plans, it would have to be "G" rated. Henry did approve of the dinner plans, though. Caleb knew that because Henry didn't make any opposition to them.

All year Caleb had been seeing Miss Annie while Henry paired up with her sister, Miss Lucy.

Both sisters, agreed a night out would be fun, so February 14th saw the two couples sitting in a restaurant in town, eating dinner and preparing to go to the only movie theater in town (or in a 40 mile radius, for that matter). Henry was still skeptical because he didn't know much of what the movie was about. The movie was also rated "P-G" which to Henry's mind meant it might be alright and it might not. The other three had been enthusiastic though and Henry wasn't going to be a wet blanket.

Caleb strolled up to the movie ticket counter with Miss Annie on his arm and purchased two tickets. Henry, accompanied by Miss Lucy, followed suit. "Danged if that ain't some price to pay for tickets. I didn't want to buy the whole film, just see it once!" Miss Lucy joined in, "I remember when you could see any movie made for 15 cents". Miss Annie reminded her that when "Gone With The Wind" came out, it cost an unheard of 50 cents to view, but that movie was four hours long, with an intermission so that everyone felt they got their money's worth. The gleam in Miss Lucy's eyes when "Gone With The Wind" was mentioned told Miss Annie that to this day, her sister was still madly (if secretly) in love with Clark Gable.

Caleb and Henry went to the concession stand and bought drinks. There was no need to buy popcorn, as the sisters had thoughtfully popped corn at home and brought it with them in a brown paper sack. "They just don't give you enough to taste in those little boxes", was Miss Annie's answer.

They were a little early, but had planned it that way so they could get good seats while the house lights were still up and they could see where they were going. Another factor about movie going in a small town was to see who else was there that they recognized. Everyone chatted quite friendly-like before the lights slowly dimmed and the music came on.

They took their seats in the middle aisle, mid-way down, with Caleb going first, followed by Miss Annie, Miss Lucy and finally Henry. Men of their generation always sat on the outside of the ladies, out of habit, in a protective sort of way.

The four of them discussed how much they missed the news reels that used to be played at the movies and of the serial films, a different chapter every Friday night. They didn't even show cartoons anymore and "Coming Attractions" was certainly not what it used to be.

As movies go, it wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst ever made. It was an adventure movie and had too much violence to suit Henry's taste. He glanced over at Miss Lucy beside of him and she seemed to be enjoying it just fine, as was Caleb. His eye caught Miss Annie's though, and he noticed she didn't seem to be enjoying it any more than he was. She motioned with her head toward the back of the theater. Henry nodded, and stood up. The both of them said excuse me, and walked up the aisle to the lobby.

Neither Caleb nor Miss Lucy, Henry's date, even seemed notice they were gone. When they were out in the lobby, they sat down on one of the red velvet covered benches. Henry took out his pipe and lit it up.

Henry and Miss Annie struck up a conversation about what they didn't like about the movie, and before they knew it, they were laughing and talking about a variety of subjects. They worried what Caleb and Lucy might be thinking happened to them, but they didn't go back inside for the whole rest of the movie.

The big doors swung open and people started to exit the theater. Henry knew the movie must be over, and waited for Miss Lucy and Caleb to pass by them. Caleb and Miss Lucy didn't even see them as they came out because they were so engrossed in discussing the movie. They were arm in arm and still sharing the bag of popcorn.

"Looks as if they didn't even miss us." Henry said. Miss Annie just took his arm and said, "Just as well. To tell the truth, we didn't miss them either, did we?"

"I never realized you and I had so much in common, Miss Annie. Perhaps I have been spending time with the wrong sister."

"Well, that's nothing that can't be changed, Henry. It looks like it already has!"

As the couples emerged from the theater onto the city street, they were still the same four, but rearranged, couple-wise. Caleb had gone in with Miss Annie and came out with Miss Lucy, to his total satisfaction. Likewise, Henry and Miss Annie. Yes, it had been another memorable Valentines Day!