In the chapter’s preface, Trevor Noah recalls his mother “trying to teach me about women,” a little bit at a time, whenever she can get in a word: it does not matter if his wife makes more money than him, he should not force “his wife [to] compete with his mother,” and he should look women in the eye. And there are plenty of lectures about sex, too.
Patricia is adamant about teaching Trevor how to love people properly, both through these lectures (including her selfless insistence that Trevor put his wife before herself) and also through modeling healthy, generous, non-possessive, and non-antagonistic love to Trevor. Even though her own relationship with Abel is incredibly unhealthy (as the reader will later learn in detail), she sees that loving properly is central to living a fulfilling life and pushing others to improve.
In his new school, Trevor experiences Valentine’s Day for the first time—Maryvale never celebrated it. He is confused at all the girls asking, “Who’s your valentine?” One proposes he ask Maylene, a girl he walks home from school with—the family has since left Eden Park, and Trevor and Maylene live furthest from school. He does not have a crush about her, but she is the school’s only colored girl, and the white girls insist, so he convinces himself he likes her and follows the standard process whereby his friends ask her friends.
Trevor is as confused by Valentine’s Day as he is by the students’ ritual of dividing themselves up based on race, and so he goes along with the first by means of the second, accepting that he is supposed to like Maylene simply because she is the only other person who looks like him.
Walking home from school one day, already knowing she would say yes, Trevor asks Maylene and they kiss—his first kiss—in front of McDonald’s. He spends the week in an frenzy, getting her a card, flowers, and a teddy bear. On Valentine’s Day, it turns out she “can’t be your girlfriend anymore” because another student, Leonardo, has asked her too, “and I can’t have two valentines.” Trevor gives Maylene the gifts and feels horrible, but also feels like “this makes sense.” Leonardo is white, popular, nice, attractive, and stupid, so Trevor “stood no chance.”
When Trevor chooses how to love based on other people’s expectations, his Valentine’s Day falls apart; in fact, Maylene rejects him precisely because she also follows the social script about what she is supposed to value in a partner (whiteness and status). While Trevor sees how such romantic scripts and expectations disadvantage him, this episode also shows how children are socialized into them from a young age.