In Japan, St. Valentine’s Day is the day that women give chocolate to men. When I was a freshman at high school, I had a big crush on my math teacher and gave him a handmade chocolate cake on Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t interested in cooking at all and never helped my grandmother and my mother in the kitchen. Although cooking was an unknown territory for me, I decided to make a chocolate cake on a whim. It turned out to be way harder and more time-consuming than I thought. I made two cakes and chose the better-looking one for the teacher and the other to be stored in the fridge for my family and myself. I handed the cake to the teacher at school and was so happy because he seemed pleased. I came home in a good mood and tried the other cake in the fridge myself. My good mood was extinguished on the spot. It tasted horrible. I’d never had such a terrible cake before, and haven’t since. Of course I tasted it to make sure while cooking, but I did so for chocolate icing, not for sponge cake. As you know, chocolate can’t go wrong, but sponge cake possibly can. I felt awful imagining the teacher was having the vicious cake with his colleagues or his family on Valentine’s Day…
A man with sunglasses was standing behind me.
When I was six or seven years old, my grandfather took me to my aunt’s house. They weren’t so well-off then, living in a small house with a lot of cats and dogs and eating from the aluminum plates. Across their house was a pachinko parlor. It was a really shabby place. My grandfather took me there and made me wait while he was playing. The place was small, filled with pachinko machines, cigarette smoke and down-and-outers. Since there was no waiting place for a kid, I was just strolling through the narrow aisles between the noisy machines and worn-out people. Suddenly, someone called me and I turned around. A man with sunglasses was standing behind me. He held two buckets of silver balls, which meant he had won a rare amount. The buckets were too full to hold the all balls and some of them were spilling. He pushed the buckets to me and said, “Take these. Go exchange for your chocolates.” Because he pressed them forcibly, I had no choice but to receive. And he disappeared. My grandfather was astounded when he saw me with the buckets and told me to return them to the man, but we couldn’t find him. I had never hold that much chocolate in my arms. The brand of the chocolate still remains my favorite.