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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Rainy: Queen of Chocolate Hearts

Rainy always hated Valentine’s Day. All that mushy fake romance stuff was more than she could bear. She once boycotted the holiday altogether, but in recent years had begun dabbling in Valentine’s Day traditions because a) she uses it as a way to help lovesick co-workers; and b) people assume she's anti-Valentine's Day, and Rainy hates to get too predictable.

Everyone in her life, both work friends and personal, knew how Rainy was, or how they thought she was … “Don’t even ask Rainy about romance,” they’d say, “because if you’re having a problem with your boyfriend or your girlfriend and you’re trying to fix it, she’ll just tell ya, “Don’t go there. These things don’t typically work out, so don’t sweat it. If it’s that difficult, it’s probably not a good idea.” And sometimes it wasn’t, but no one at work besides Rainy ever had the guts to tell people that. Instead, they would see a young co-worker about to tie the knot with someone they knew wouldn’t be good for her or him, and they’d all just go, “Wow, congratulations … Have ya told Rainy yet?”

They wanted her to do the dirty work, and Rainy was up to the task. She felt like it was her responsibility now. It was a thing she did well, like a little role she’d come to play in life. She didn’t want to talk people out of things that were truly good for them, but she wasn’t opposed to helping people to see that they shouldn’t look for someone to complete them, or fix their messed-up little lives. She didn’t come right out and say that, of course. She’d just tell little stories and ask the sort of questions that helped bring them to their own conclusions, make them think harder.

Some viewed Rainy as unromantic, and cold, but the truth was that she was exactly the opposite. She knew that some relationships were very special, and others were not, but that even the special ones -- especially the special ones -- should never be rushed or smothered.

Rainy also knew that some of those co-workers who approached her wanted to be talked out of decisions made hastily in the heat of the moment. Like Kara, one of her younger co-workers, who came to work one day and announced she was planning to marry her boyfriend of two months, in a month. Not surprisingly, Kara made this announcement around Valentine’s Day, and Rainy was ready with chocolates.

“So Rainy, what do ya think of this?” Kara asked at the end of a Friday. “Well Kara,” Rainy responded, “are you sure you want to spend the rest of your entire life with a guy you met just two months ago?”

“Yes, I think I am,” Kara said as if trying to convince herself.

“How can you tell?” Rainy asked. “I’m curious how people know these things, because it seems such a difficult decision to make in such a short time.”

“Oh, it is,” Kara says. “I mean, you know me. I’m a very independent sorta girl. I wasn’t even looking for a boyfriend, but then I met Georgie at my friend’s party and well, we just chatted all night, like we were oblivious to anyone else. It felt like we’d known each other forever. We see each other like four or five times a week now, and even that’s not enough. I want more. I want it all, Rainy, because I love Georgie that much. He’s all I can think about.”

“Kara, remember those dark chocolate Godiva’s you got last year from your other boyfriend, Jason?” Rainy asked.

“Rainy, I was 20,” she said rolling her eyes. “I don’t still have feelings for Jason.”

“Of course you don’t,” Rainy said. “The guy dressed like a chicken and twirled a sign by the side of the road on weekends, and it was the best job he ever had, and he still hated it. C’mon, that could’ve been a fun job and all he ever did was whine about how he lost his boring job with Fed Ex. I wasn’t implying you loved Jason, but you did love those chocolates, right?”

“God yes,” Kara said. “I adored those chocolates.”

“Good, ‘cause I have some,” she says pulling a huge heart shaped box from her desk drawer. “Duuuuuuude,” Kara said. “You are the best.”

“Don’t ever call me dude again,” she said laughing, and offering the freshly opened box of red-foiled wrapped chocolates. “Dig in. Got some nice wine here too,” she said pulling a bottle of Kara’s favorite pinot noir from her personal fridge.

They drank wine for awhile, ate chocolates and chatted about work and love and all the fun Kara had been having with her boyfriend, and how perfect he was for her. The time was flying by, and Kara was getting giddy from all the wine and chocolates. “You know,” she says, “Bobbie Sue warned me that you might try to talk me out of my decision. She said you were bitter and cold, but I can see that you’re clearly not. Anyone who keeps these chocolates and that pinot noir in their desk drawer at work has got to be fun. But look, I drank most of the wine and have eaten almost all of your chocolates and you’ve only had two. Don’t you want more?”

“Nah,” Rainy said. “I used to eat more because they were are just so freakin’ good that when you have one, you just want the whole darned box. I love the pinot noir too, and on a few occasions, drank a bunch of pinot noir, but at some point I realized that didn’t make me feel so good. In fact, it made me feel like total crap.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean, ‘cause I do that too,” Kara says. “I love those chocolates so much that I just want more and more, and then when I have them all, I just feel sick, like I might never want another. But then after awhile I forget and do it all over again. And again, I feel sick in the end.” Kara then stopped talking for awhile, and sat there deep in thought. “So if you love these chocolates too,” she suddenly piped up, “how do you resist?”

“Oh, it just comes with time,” Rainy says. “Us humans are stupid like that. We have to experience the unpleasant result of things a lot of times before we exercise better options. I do love chocolates and I want another even now, but if I kept eating them, they wouldn’t be so special.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Rainy continues, pulling open her largest desk drawer to reveal three more frilly heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. “I have a LOT of very special chocolates, more than a girl could ever want. But I only allow myself to have one every three days, and I savor it, and then for three whole days, I look forward to the next.”

“My god, Rainy, did you knock off a chocolate shop or something?” “No,” Rainy said, laughing, “they’re from my boyfriend, Random.” “You’re boyfriend?,” she said laughing now too. “You didn’t tell us you had a boyfriend, and his name is Random?That is so random.

"Well, most people call him Randy," Rainy said, "but I prefer his real name."

"Yeah, it's a cool name," Kara said. "But how come you’re so secretive?”

“Cause when you get to be my age,” Rainy says, you begin to know yourself, really know yourself. “I’ve learned, for instance, that I hate overindulging and feeling like crap, but that I like dark chocolate, jogging at 3:30 a.m. and secrets. I like you too, Kara. That’s why I’m sharing some secrets tonight. Look, I know you thought I was going to try to talk you out of getting married at 21, but I'm not. I know that your intuition, that wise little voice inside, will tell you what to do, so just listen closely and trust it. But now I’ve gotta go, because we’ve been sitting here for hours and my kitty-cat is impatiently waiting to be fed.”

“Ok, but before you go," Kara says, "tell me about this random boyfriend of yours. Is this a new development? Are you happy?”

“Not exactly new, we’ve known each other 12 years, and yes, I'm happy,” Rainy says.

“How often do you see him?” Kara asked.

Rainy smiled and responded: “About every three days. That way there's always plenty to talk about.”

At that, Kara laughed and thanked Rainy for the chocolates, the wine and for being there when she needed a friend. About 30 minutes later, Rainy arrived home to her loudly meowing Blackie. She knew if he could talk, he’d be saying, “Where the hell have ya been?”

“Chill, little kitty, I was on a mission," she told the cat. "Just when I think I’ve got them all straightened out, another little lost soul comes along. Ya know Blackie, it’s not always all about you.”

At that, Blackie meowed and tilted his head sadly. But then Rainy assured him that, of course, on most days, it really is all about Blackie.

But Blackie, who knew that Rainy had been spending a lot more time away than usual these days, was not entirely convinced. So Rainy gave him a fat jumbo shrimp, and that made him feel a bit better, but Blackie knew he'd feel a lot better, if he had about four or five more, every night. Blackie thinks moderation is just stupid.

Rainy is in a Valentine's Day-red box outside a Mobil gas station at State Road 84 and Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale