My buddies and I were in the grocery store racking up on discounted St. Valentine’s Day candy. We were all around 17, so we hadn’t discovered true love yet. To us, true love was a free order of fries at the drive-thru thanks to an employee’s mistake.We did have crushes, though. I had my eye on one particular chick who worked in the food court of the mall; she was at least 21 and had a tattoo of Ralph Steadman’s Gonzo symbol on her arm.
So there we were, bitching about the previous day and how alone we had been. “Fuck Valentine’s Day,” I said. “February 14 is the worst day in the history of mankind.You know who else hated February 14?”
Everyone chimed in at the same time, including some clearance browsers I didn’t know: “Saint Valentine!”
“Damned right,” I grumbled. I spied out of the corner of my eye a plush gorilla hugging a heart-shaped box of my favorite candy. As I reached for it, my hand brushed up against hers... Ms. Gonzo from the food court. She looked at me and laughed. I said, “You can have it. I don’t need a stuffed gorilla.”
She smiled. “I want the gorilla, but I’m not a fan of the chocolate. How about we split the cost; I take the toy, you take the candy? It’s already fifty per cent off!” She bit her bottom lip. “Please?”
Of course I said yes. As we parted, she said, “Great! My boyfriend’s going to love this. He’s a primate freak.”
I scowled. “I bet he is,” I muttered as she started toward the exit.
Suddenly, the lights went off, and there was an explosion. The roof over the door collapsed... right on top of my dream girl. I never got the chance to find out her name. At the time, I blamed myself. I’d secretly willed something bad to happen because I was jealous. I no longer wanted the candy.
It took days for our loved ones, those who survived the initial collapse, to dig through the wreckage and save us; them and the die-hard survivalists who came running to the store for supplies. By then, we’d eaten most of the food. I didn’t eat the candy, though. I wound up giving it away. I lost my taste for sweets the same day I decided that maybe 2/14 wasn’t the worst day in the history of mankind. Maybe 2/15 was.