The night was beautiful, maybe even a bit sultry.
What started off as a friendly gathering somehow transformed the course of my best friend David’s life by the end of the night.
It was my 16th Birthday and the celebration was just getting started in the Summer of 1983.
I was determined to have a good time and there was nothing or no one who was going to ruin my big day,.. so I thought!
While most teenagers my age were accomplishing monumental events such as acquiring their driver’s license, summer jobs, and saving for their first car I was too busy spending most of my time behind bars with a criminal record as big as the yellow pages.
Along with being shot twice, stabbed once, I had a total of sixty stitches to add to the list.
Truth is I didn't care, and I was headed to nowhere real fast. Even the local police department had warned my mom.
“Mrs. Sanchez you’re not going to have a son much longer. The way Destin is living you’ll be lucky if he lives to see his sixteenth birthday.” Thank God the Police were wrong and I was fortunate enough to be celebrating my sixteenth birthdaya the park with.
As everyone began showing up to the party one by one they began greeting me with handshakes, hugs, and some good old-fashioned nods of the head.
David was the first to walk in. “What’s up Destin?”
“Nothing much Little Bear, just getting ready to get this party started.”
I could always count on Little Bear to be the first to show up.
Little Bear was David’s nickname. Everyone who is in our gang got a nickname and that was the name we had given him when we were kids.
Like brothers, wherever I was you could almost guarantee David wasn’t too far behind. David’s sanguine smile always brought life to the party.
The only problem, David just always showed up empty-handed.
As the DJ started playing oldies but goodies I could hear everyone start to cheer as the beer keg was lifted out the back of Ronnie’s truck “Hurry up and tap the keg” the crowd started to chant.
The line quickly started to form “You better not be cutting the line Joe” Trying to keep order I did my best to control the line.
“Hey, Becky, I need some help! Go get those plastic red cups and start handing them out to everyone who paid their 2 bucks to get in.” Becky was my little sister and it was her first time at a party in the neighborhood.
“You better stop shoving me you animals everyone’s going to get a stupid cup” Becky yelled out, I could see that she was incensed.
“Don’t let them push you around kid” As David egged her on and instigated. Nothing was going to happen, no one would dare to talk back to my sister that was just the way we communicated with each other.
Not more then an hour had gone by when I happen to glance over my left shoulder and noticed a silhouette of someone that resembled Cupid.
Yup, that’s right! I couldn’t believe what my eyes were witnessing. But there he was Mr. Mischievous, Golden Curls, Wild Cuddle Bug, Classy Honey Buns, better known as Cupid.
Despite his innocuous appearance, I knew that I couldn’t trust him.
“What is this guy up to?” I mumbled to myself right before Honey Buns decided to go on the rampage.
Cupid was determined to pierce the hearts of two teens that night.
It’s been said that Cupids arrows have been known to place teens under a trance, somewhat like a love spell. If they were struck with an arrow they would become punch-drunk and fall in love with whomever he determines.
As Cupid took aim I noticed one eye squinting as the other searched the crowd for the perfect couple who stood out amongst my friends. Still, in shock, I watched as Cupid’s cherub cheeks blushed, turning two shades of red as he continued prowling with excitement. Golden Curls wasn’t just searching for any ordinary couple, it had to be the kind of couple who had no intentions of ever falling in love. That was the only way his assignment could be complete.
“RUN... Everyone run!” The screams echoed as my friends took cover from the arrows that whizzed over our heads.
Cupid must have found the couple he was trolling for because his aim was directed directly at David and this young girl Kathy who happened to be visiting with her cousins that night.
I don’t believe he could’ve picked a better target because David was definitely one of those, “I’m never going to fall in love.” types.
I can’t count how many times David tried convincing me that he was never going to fall in love. David and I would argue about this almost every day.
“Destin, you do know that you’ll never catch me chasing after any girl... right?
As a matter of fact, I don’t believe in love at first sight or in puppy love. It’s all just a bunch of hogwash and fairy tales.
It’s something someone made up just to get us to believe in LOVE.”
David underestimated Cupid’s craftiness when it came to bringing two people together. David was under the impression that he was in control of who his heart would fall in love with.
Cupid demonstrated time and time again, that his timing was never going to be convenient, and scheduling an appointment for love was never his forte.
I eventually realized Mr. Mischievous was up to his old tricks, even the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I witnessed Cupid lurking and poking his head out from behind the trees.
There was this mysterious look on his face, along with the beads of sweat that rolled off of his forehead his upper lip curled while he spoke to me. This guy was up to something I just couldn’t place my finger on it. But, there was one thing for certain, Cupid stood out like a sore thumb.
Now within striking distance, Cupid placed one finger on the fetch of the arrow and with all of his strength he pulled back on the Golden Bow. Right at that moment, right before Cupid had the chance to release the arrow from his fingertips I yelled out...
“Hey, what’s going on over there? What are you doing?”
Cupid jumped up... I startled him just long enough for him to miss hitting his target.
“Come on... Look what you made me do, you made me miss my target!“
Cupid responded with a villain’s voice.
“Oh it’s you, I almost didn’t recognize you, Destin. So, how the hell are you? I know that we have had our disagreements in the past... but can’t we just let bygones be bygones?”
The nerve of this guy. I mumbled under my breath.
I had nothing to say to that NO GOOD CHUMP.
Cupid and I had a bad history and I didn’t want him within fifty feet; however, there he was standing within ten feet from where I was standing.
I wanted to clobber him with this iron pipe I carried around for protection.
As The Love Bug stood waiting for my response the street lights turned on and illuminated his face. The lights gave me a better peek at his continuance. I stood there in awe when noticed Cupid had changed, he was no longer the same Wild Cuddle Bug I remembered in elementary school during our first encounter.
Nope, Mr. Golden Curls was no longer warm and fuzzy, he wasn’t wearing his big white saggy diaper nor were there violins or harps playing as he walked past and he most definitely wasn’t sporting that cute ribbon wrapped around his fat belly.
No, in real-time I caught sight of a big scar on the left side of his face, and what appeared to look like a three-month-old beard.
I’m not sure what happened? “What was it that caused Cupid to look so rough?”
Perhaps Mr. Honey Buns had a mental breakdown or Perhaps he never fully recovered from the loss of his one true love Psyche.
Along with these old faded army fatigues he had on these oversized steel-toed boots. He kinda reminded me of Rambo in the movie “First Blood”.
With a million thoughts I couldn’t help but wonder what the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause or Tinker Bell looked like now?
Cupid’s presence frightened everyone, not everyone there that night was searching for love, especially DAVID.
I had an acceptable and rational explanation for my paranoia.
(REWIND) Let’s just say it all started while I was in the 4th-grade attending Acacia elementary school in The City of Fullerton.
There was a group of us who did everything together as a matter of fact, I can’t think of my past without thinking of Danny, Joe, and David.
The relationship and bond was like the Sandlot kids, just subtract baseball, the dumb clothes and nerds.
Everyone at the school including our teachers called us trouble, and for a good reason.
The students not only feared us they rejected us. The group of us were never allowed to join other students in after-school groups.
We were a bad influence, we dressed and acted like gang members, thugs, hooligans, and all the above. Although we weren’t real gang members, we were considered wannabes, either way, it was made clear by the other parents that we were not allowed to mingle with the other students; however, that didn’t stop us from wreaking havoc on the playground and forming our own little clique.
It was our older cousins who taught us how to intimidate and extort the students. They inspired us as kids, so we mimicked everything we saw them do and say. We watched as they bagged up their drugs, treated their girlfriend, and acted as if non of them had time for any real relationship.
Sadly to say that they were the closest the people we had as role models.
It was back at this elementary school where we had our first encounter with a much younger Cupid, one who didn’t have the scars and bad attitude.
We believed with Cupid’s help there was a possibility of discovering someone to love. But then again, what did we know? We still believed in the Tooth fairy and in Santa Clause.
Regardless of what we believed Cupid was our only hope and if there was going to be any chance of us capturing love this would be our opportunity to finally find a date for the Valentine’s sweetheart’s dance at our school.
The atmosphere was electric as many voiced it to be the dance of all school dances. This was going to be the one dance non of us would ever forget.
A few days before the dance I practically burned down my house from ironing my Levi Jeans for two days. Even the smoke alarm went off from the smoke that filled my room. I tried to fan the smoke out of the window before my mom could hear what was going on. It was a little too late.
I heard my mom yelling from the kitchen.
“You better not be destroying my iron Destin, I just bought it.”
My mother always had a way of exaggerating the truth because the iron was at least ten years old. My mom was more concerned with the iron than the smoke that filled my room.
“If I have to tell you one more time, I’m going to take my shoe off and slap you across your head.” She wasn’t lying. “Yes, mom, I heard you. I’m not going to destroy your new iron.” Of course, I was teasing her as I watched her put her apron on.
It was almost dinner time and my Mother would serve my Father as soon as he walked through the doors.
My father was a hard worker, always making sure that we had what we needed.
By no means were we rich or lived in a fancy neighborhood, we didn’t have a white Pickett fence nor did we own a dog named spot, but we have everything we needed to survive. I was grateful to have both my parents growing up. My Father worked while my Mom dealt with my little sister Becky and myself.
There wasn’t a day that went by where I wasn’t being scolded for doing something, or sometimes it was for doing nothing.
My little sister Beck loved to hear the sound of my mom yelling or the sound of her hitting me with her sandal. Becky would stand in the hallway and laugh while my mom continued yelling at me about her new iron and how I was destroying it.
“I’m going to tell Dad you are wearing his T-shirt… I hope and I pray that Dad whoops You.” Ugh... I hated her squeaky voice.
“Shut up… stinky girl, before I tell everyone you wet the bed.”
My sister and I were only one year apart and we basically had to share everything.
I am just elated that I was first born because Becky had to wear my old clothes and my old sneakers. I don’t think I would have looked good wearing a pair of pumps or heels.
Sometimes I felt bad because Becky had to go to school looking like a tomboy most.