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Sweet like candy

A Christmas theme and date for our wedding seemed appropriate considering that it all began during holiday time.

He was confused when I first suggested it. That was until I reminded him of “the incident.” When he stopped laughing, he wholeheartedly agreed. He acted surprised I remembered it, but apparently he did too since his wicked smile was the same today as it was then.

We have known each other practically our entire lives, growing up in the same town, going to the same schools. We even ended up at the same out-of-state college. Something to this day, he believes was not a coincidence, instead convinced it was my way to torment him. He shouldn’t complain, the close proximity worked out well for him in the end.

To say we weren’t friends growing up is a monumental understatement. We loathed each other. He was a spoiled, brat and I was from the Frugal Family. He flaunted his material wealth and I hid behind feigned indifference to not having all the latest games and gadgetry.

His absentee father would lavish gifts on him in attempts to assuage his guilt for being away so much, and to keep his son entertained so that when he was home, he didn’t have to interact with him even then. To compensate for the lack of attention he got from his father, he would flaunt his wealth, showing off to the neighborhood kids. Sharing with a select few and making a great show of not sharing with others. I fell into the ‘others’ category.

My parents were both white-collar professionals. We were a typical middle class family. I never wanted for the basic necessities, and I grew up knowing I was loved by both of them. They were actively involved in all my extracurricular activities. What I didn’t get, was everything I asked for. My parents didn’t believe in spoiling their kids. What they did splurge on, they expected us kids to share with each other and our friends.

During one particularly memorable incident, his father had brought a box of Zoë’s peppermint candy canes from California for him to take to school for our fifth grade class Christmas party. He went through Oscar worthy theatrics in passing out the treats, until he came to me. Instead of giving me the last candy cane, he made a show of peeling off the cellophane, and eating it in front of me. Until then, I simply ignored him. That blatant humiliation cemented my hatred of him for many years to come, and I let him know how I felt about him every chance I could.

We later came to realize that our animosity was grounded in jealousy. We both wanted what the other had. I envied his seemingly doting parents, and he wanted parents who actually paid attention to him.

Throughout our high school days we ran with different crowds. As football quarterback, he was labeled a jock. I was considered a nerd for being Forensic Team captain. We actually weren’t so different. He was a math whiz, and I could run a 5.5 minute mile. We both earned scholarships to the same college, but him for academics and me for track.

Since our mothers were friends, despite the visible daggers their children stared at each other if in the same room, they thought it would be cost-effective for us to drive to school together. I think in their minds we would re-enact their favorite movie, “When Harry Met Sally.”

They were more prophetic than we gave them credit. Our first year away, we barely spoke ten words to each other. It wasn’t until his dad had his heart attack during our junior year and I cut classes to drive him home, that the tension begin to thaw. By graduation, the relationship had heated up nicely.

It has come down to this. We are basking in the glow of the newly married, drinking in congratulations and best wishes from friends and family. As we sit at the head table at our reception, his best man and best friend since third grade is delivering his wedding toast. He is telling our love story, starting at the beginning…

“She hated him, but she could not look away from the candy cane he swirled tantalizingly around his mouth.”

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, wintervixen86 challenged me with “She hated him, but she could not look away from the candy cane he swirled tantalizingly around his mouth.” and I challenged Wendryn with “She was a bystander in her own life.

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