Notes From the Newsroom: Valentine’s Day Vignettes
To commemorate Valentine's Day, members of the newsroom share some of the joys and perils of the holiday of love at Amherst.
A Rude (But Thoughtful) Awakening
A core tenet of journalism is, write the story, don’t be the story. But this morning, as I lay in bed, having just awoken, basking in the new sunshine, clad only in boxer-briefs — at peace — I would soon find myself becoming, in this instance, the story.
My roommate and I were discussing our plans for the day. He didn’t have any classes and wanted to grab a coffee; I had just one and was also interested in obtaining a soul-warming chai latte. It was normal. Too normal. We had forgotten something important.
Then came a knock at the door. We heard a ripple of masculine giggles out in the hall. He and I looked at each other, confused. This had never happened before. Who could it be this early in the morning? What could they want? Before either of us could move, we heard the first clear sentence: “Fuck it, let’s go in.”
The door opened and in walked a bevy — at least five, but it all happened so fast — of smiling, preppy, well-groomed young men. I feared robbery. Perhaps they were looking to take all of our quarter-zips and hair-styling cream. “Happy Valentine’s Day!” they cried in unison. “Which one of you is Liam, anyway?” It was me. They began to sing.
One very peppy a capella rendition of the Frank Sinatra classic “The Way You Look Tonight” (“Lovely, don’t you ever change…”) later, the talented trespassers vanished as quickly as they arrived.
In a state of shock, I called out after them, “I only wish I had pants on.”
I’ve heard reports since then of similar encounters with these musical marauders. Stay safe out there.
Special shout-out to my lovely girlfriend. You got me real good. Never, never, change.
—Liam Archacki ’24
Addendum, from Sonia Chajet Wides ’25 and Eleanor Walsh ’25: We had the same experience but at 7 a.m. So there.
Addendum to the addendum, from Caelen McQuilkin ’24E: I had the same experience. But at 6:15 a.m…
Addendum to the addendum to the addendum, from Dustin Copeland ’25: I did not have the same experience — but one Ian Dopp ’24 did, also extraordinarily early that morning. But he had the dubious pleasure of greeting the singers not just that time, but again a half hour later! Then again, another half hour on. And, finally, a half hour after that. I have heard tell that the whole event was orchestrated by Olivia Lynch ’25, who was very conspicuously absent from the scene.
Love on Fire
My love of Val’s omelet bar was born on Valentine’s Day last year, and this year, I was ecstatic to once again find myself standing in front of a talented chef sprinkling vegetables and cheese over the pan. Valentine’s Day heart decorations dangled overhead. Everything was as it should be.
And then: disaster. The blaring sound of a fire alarm rang through the toast room, and I watched the omelet chefs roll their eyes. “We knew this would happen,” one said, gesturing to the air vent above the cooking station. I stayed firmly rooted in place. I would not abandon my omelet, so close to being finished. But then I watched as people in the front room begrudgingly shrugged on their jackets, picked up their backpacks, and headed for the door. The chefs turned off their burners. My omelet lay there, adjusting to the sudden cold. With my head turned back to it wistfully, I exited the building.
Outside, I was met by a crowd of people, including my roommate and friend Eleanor Walsh ’25, and fellow managing features editor at The Student. Eleanor had just gotten out of the shower, and was looking like a stereotypical fire alarm evacuee, dressed in a bathrobe, her hair wet in the freezing cold. As the crowd downstairs grew, my fellow Val-dwellers filled the Valcony, looking down at their peers from overhead. (Thank goodness it wasn’t a real fire — a wooden deck would not be a great place to stand.)
I looked around at the beautiful pink and red outfits beside me. “Happy Valentine’s Day!” my girlfriend shouted from the Valcony. After 10 minutes, the awful beeping ceased, and we were beckoned back inside, to many whoops and cheers, just catching a glimpse of the retreating firefighters.
I rushed to my omelet. It was still there, valiant. After another minute of heating, my omelet hero slid the eggs onto my plate. I was left with five minutes to scarf it down before my 8:30 class.
—Sonia Chajet Wides ’25
To Post or Not To Post
As someone with a deep fear of posting on social media — I have posted once on Instagram since seventh grade — this Valentine’s Day was hard for me. I woke up to an Instagram full of loving partners who, by 8:30 am, had somehow already assembled photo collages for their significant others. Stressed out and slightly put off by the performativity of the whole enterprise, I leaned towards not posting anything for my girlfriend, Stormie. She knew how I felt — what did it matter what I put on my Instagram story?
As the day crept on and the stories continued to pile up, and as my girlfriend assembled her own tasteful three-slide story for me, the pressure became crushing, but still I demurred. Posting one’s significant other was vain and pointless, I decided. I would never do anything vain and pointless.
But then I took a glance at my archived Instagram stories. The results were striking. In the last six months, I have posted to my Instagram story one picture of Huevos Rancheros, one video of elks walking across a putting green, and two photos of the soccer player Mohamed Salah. In the last year, I have posted at least five photos of the soccer player Mohamed Salah.
My conception of myself as a high-minded conscientious objector to social media was thoroughly popped, so I decided that Stormie probably warranted a post.
That story got quite a few likes so I have decided that my feed will be a more equal mix of her and Mohamed Salah going forward.
—Leo Kamin ’25
A Rose From Bhutan
A mailroom is among the world’s most productive vignette-factories, pumping out sparkling slices-of-life at a rate equal to or surpassing the airport, the coffee shop, and all those other great venues of people-watching. Lucky for us, a college campus is one of the last refuges of this forgotten haven. Today, especially, the mailroom struck me for its cultivation of charmingly quaint expressions of love.
As I rushed up to the parcel window in the 30 minutes between my 2 p.m. lunch and 2:30 class, I was thoroughly self-absorbed in a mission to obtain my mom’s surprise Valentine’s Day package. My boyfriend, Milo, is studying abroad this semester, and so she sent me a thoughtful assortment of material compensations, namely a dinosaur bookmark and Sour Patch Kids.
As I stood in line, I noticed the marks of the day’s festivities on the shelves behind the counter — flower bouquets and pink envelopes were scattered among the usual monolith of Amazon packaging. I wondered who would receive these gifts, who sent them; I imagined a glimmering network of love all coalescing between these walls of mailboxes.
As I walked to my class, the omnipresence of the holiday was more palpable than it was that morning: friends smiled sweetly, sharing candy; people tried not to spill water from their vases as they carried them, awkwardly, uphill to the first-year quad; rosebuds poked their heads shyly out of tote bags.
In fact, not five minutes later, my friend Gabe came up to me and, with a flourish, produced a rose from his backpack, telling me it was sent with love from Milo, from the other side of the world.
—Sam Spratford ’24
Addendum, from Dustin Copeland ’25: But that really isn’t the end of the story — nor is it really the beginning. It all started Monday night, when Milo had a better idea than just shipping Sam a bouquet. Instead, he would get a bouquet for all of us, to split amongst ourselves and deliver to Sam whenever we happened to see her on Valentine’s day. By late evening, Milo managed to deliver ten roses (along with a vase!) all the way from Bhutan — and with not a petal missing!