I’m certainly not going to write a post about Valentine’s day. That picture above is just coincidence.
I really wasn’t going to write one, even when I saw that the Daily Post Challenge was a Valentine’s Day themed story. Then I thought of this one, and I had to write it.
Warning here. This story has discussions about sex and alternative lifestyles. Since I don’t usually write about that kind of thing I felt the need to say that if you don’t want to read about that, don’t. Is this kind of warning necessary these days? It might be. better to be safe.
“You’re getting Anna a tin of peanut brittle?” Tammi asked with a roll of her eyes. “Seriously?”
“It’s not for Anna,” said Steve. He put the brittle back on the shelf. “I already got Anna stuff.” He indicated the basket that hung off his arm. It contained a stuffed kitten on top of another stuffed kitten, a science-fictiony looking book, and a package of high-end salted caramel.
“Is it for me, then?” Tammi squinted at it. “I do love me a good brittle, peanut or otherwise.”
“When did I ever get you a Valentine’s present? No, it’s for…Andrew.”
“Andrew? You are buying peanut brittle for the guy who is plowing your wife?”
An elderly woman walking by stared at Tammi. Steve cringed.
“I wouldn’t call him the guy who is plowing my wife. More like…”
“Let us conduct a brief questionnaire, shall we? Question one. Is he or is he not plowing your wife?”
“Well yeah, but…”
“Case closed.” Tammi reached over Steve’s shoulder to grab the tin of brittle. She dropped it in her own basket.
“It’s more complicated than that. I mean, he is my friend.”
“I’m your friend,” said Tammi. “I’ve know you way longer than Andrew. So why am I buying my own peanut brittle?” She took it out of her basket and tossed it into Steve’s.
“Yeah, but I feel like maybe I’m supposed to get him something.”
“Do you think he’ll get you something?”
“Well yeah, probably. He always gets everyone stuff. He’s that guy.”
“My cats did really dig that laser pointer,” Tammi admitted. “But like you said, he always does that. I certainly don’t feel obligated to buy him anything.”
“Yeah, but it’s different for me. The situation is different. What is the protocol here? Are you supposed to buy a Valentine’s Day present for your wife’s boyfriend?”
“What are you looking at me for? I don’t know the rules for your sick little lifestyle.”
“You are just so hilarious,” said Steve. Tammi grinned. “But seriously. Aren’t your people supposed to know about this kind of thing? Don’t you do it all the time?”
“Your people?” Tammi gasped. “I’m contractually obligated to pretend to find that offensive.”
“No, I’m serious.”
“You are asking me for relationship advice? Because of my oh-so-fantastic track record?”
“Yeah, but you must know people, like, in the community, who…” Steve cut off when he saw Tammi’s incredulous look. “Okay, fine, sorry. But I’m just worried that if I buy him a present I’ll look like a bitch or something.”
“Wow,” said Tammi. “That was actually pretty sexist. I’m impressed.”
“Bad choice of words. A sucker, then. Like…a cuckold or something.”
“Oh Steve,” Tammi touched him gently on the shoulder, “that ship has sailed.”
“Jesus,” Steve wrenched his shoulder away from her hand. “If you’re just going to be a jerk about it, then never mind.”
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” said Tammi, laughing. Steve glared at her. “Really, I’m sorry! I am!”
Steve sighed heavily. “Alright.”
“Oh, turn here. I need light bulbs.”
“Yeah, me too, now that you mention it.”
“Why do think you are supposed to buy him a present?” Tammi said a minute later as she bent down to look at the large packs of energy-efficient bulbs. “Just because he bought you one? Do you think Anna will be pissed if you don’t?”
Steve paused and titled his head. “No, it’s not that. It’s like…it’s hard to put it into words.”
“You always say that about everything. Try.”
“Well, I mean, I guess I appreciate him?”
“You appreciate him? For plowing your…” Steve shot another glare at her. She threw up her hands defensively. “For being with your wife?”
“Well, yeah. I guess I do. I mean, I know it’s weird. And at first I kind of hated him for it, even though I okayed the whole thing. And don’t you dare tell Anna I said that.”
“It’s in the vault,” Tammi mimed opening up her chest and throwing something inside.
“But now…well, our sex life has certainly gotten more interesting. And it’s pretty nice to get the bed to myself once a week.”
“Except for the cats,” said Tammi.
“Except for the cats,” Steve agreed. “And also, I don’t know. Anna just seems happier. Less stressed out in general. I know Andrew has something to do with that. Plus, even though I don’t have a girlfriend or anything right now, it’s kind of cool to know that I had the option. Like I have this hot friend, and if she ever, say, decided to switch teams…”
“Not going to happen.”
“Just for a single day, hypothetically, in the distant future…”
“No chance, dude.”
“Who says I’m talking about you?” Tammi stared at him. He smiled, and put a light bulb in his basket. “You got what you needed?”
“Yeah,” said Tammy. “This pack says they lasts 900 hours. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
They wandered out of the aisle.
“You really don’t think it makes me look like a loser?” Steve said after a minute.
“Steve,” Tammi stood up, and looked her friend in the eye. “There aren’t any rules here. The whole thing is weird. I thought it was crazy-weird when you first told me about it, and I’m suppose to be the wild one. No one is going to think you are a loser for buying Andrew a present. At least, nobody new.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.”
“You’ve got good instincts. If you are going to screw this thing up it’s not going to be with a package of peanut brittle.”
Steve nodded. “See? I knew asking you was a good idea. Let’s go this way.” They turned down the toy aisle.
“Yeah. It usually is. You thinking about buying him an action figure?”
“It makes sense. But how am I suppose to know which ones he already has? Also what the hell do I know about action figures? I should have scouted out his apartment or something. I wish I hadn’t waited until the last possible second.”
“No need to break a long-standing tradition,” said Tammi.
“Fair enough. At least it was easy to get Anna some good stuff.” He looked into his basket. He squinted. “How did this get in there?” He picked up the tin of brittle.
Tammi shrugged. “You might as well buy it. Just in case. Maybe your subconscious was trying to tell you something.”
“Yeah,” said Steve vaguely. “Maybe.”
“Ooo,” Tammi reached over Steve and grabbed a Wolverine figure, claws full extended. “What about this one?”