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Friday, February 15, 2013

Merrimack teens ‘un-celebrate’ Valentine’s Day at library party

MERRIMACK – Liz Gotauco wasn’t out to bash love and relationships, she said, it’s just that the idea of an Anti-Valentine’s Day party seemed like too much fun to pass up.

So the Merrimack Public Library youth services director went ahead and put up some posters, and by the time Valentine’s Day eve was approaching Wednesday afternoon, a group of teenagers was sitting around tables creating black duct tape flowers; belittling upcoming heart-infested school dances; and taking turns jotting editorial comments on copies of covers of teen romance novels. ...

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MERRIMACK – Liz Gotauco wasn’t out to bash love and relationships, she said, it’s just that the idea of an Anti-Valentine’s Day party seemed like too much fun to pass up.

So the Merrimack Public Library youth services director went ahead and put up some posters, and by the time Valentine’s Day eve was approaching Wednesday afternoon, a group of teenagers was sitting around tables creating black duct tape flowers; belittling upcoming heart-infested school dances; and taking turns jotting editorial comments on copies of covers of teen romance novels.

“There’s so much pro-Valentine’s Day stuff out there – school dances, for instance – that some of us not in a relationship can feel left out in the cold a little bit,” Gotauco said. “So I figured what the heck, let’s have a little fun with it. Let’s poke some fun at the day.”

And poke they did, although some attendees admitted their neutrality on the annual celebration of all things sappy and sweet. And three girls, all eighth-graders, even went as far as to acknowledge that they’re currently in relationships.

“My boyfriend would come, if I called him,” Shelby Brenton said.

“Mine wouldn’t, no way,” Alyssa Jobin offered as the three laughed.

Kaleigh Beck said she came to the party for two reasons: “I thought it would be fun” and “I think (Valentine’s Day) is kind of a waste of a day … it’s just an excuse (for some) to buy a lot of candy.”

Library director Yvette Couser stopped by with her camera just in time to catch a game of “stack the candy hearts,” which involves carefully placing one of those immortal, heart-shaped confections carrying love messages on top of another until time runs out.

“Something like this gives them an alternative,” Couser said. “There can be so much pressure on kids.” There’s something to be said, she added, for allowing children and teens to “take their time growing up.”

Merrimack High School junior Samuel Benzing, who had the distinction of being the only male at the party, thought for a minute then waxed philosophical.

“I can’t say I ever had a reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” the 16-year-old said. “I guess what I don’t like about it is, why do we need a special day just to say we care about someone?”

The decorations and props around the room illustrated the theme of the day quite well. On one table stood several posters asking things like “What’s the worst Valentine’s Day gift?” and “What’s the most unromantic movie?”

To the former question, partygoers answered “an expired gift card,” “kitty litter” and, simply, “socks,” while the latter drew two suggestions: “Bullet to the Head” and “Live Free or Die Hard.”

On another table, near where a laptop played a compilation of anti-love songs like Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game” and the Pat Benatar hymn “Love is a Battlefield,” a pile of felt-tip pens came with a message encouraging partygoers to “have at it” with an arrow pointing to a collage of romance novel covers.

For instance, the Elizabeth Reyes novel “Forever Mine” had been renamed “Forever Lame,” and the milk-and-cookies cover image of a boy embracing a golden-haired girl now had a speech balloon above the girl: “Let go of me!”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph. com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).