I had gone through the plan at least thirty-eight times in my head. Any more than that, and it either would have started to bore me, or else I’d start over analyzing the whole thing and getting nervous like I do every time I try to talk to that girl at the Starbucks on Route 10. I think her name’s Amy (I read it on her nametag. Is that creepy?). No. Thirty-three times. That was the optimal amount of times to run over a scenario before you’ve just got to get it done.
Thirty-three? Thirty-eight. Whatever. I wasn’t actually keeping track. I mean, come on. Who does that? Who keeps track of how many times they actually think about something? That’s why we always use big numbers, like a thousand. Easy, hyperbolic lie. People get the point. I don’t even think I can count to thirty-seven. Thirty-eight? Whatever.
I’ve thought about Amy six hundred and ninety-two times since March.
This makes six hundred and ninety-three.
It was now or never. Casually stroll into Wawa, with the gun and the mask in my pocket. Scope out the scene, make sure no one else is in the store. Idle by the Hot Pockets freezer until the coast is clear. Duck behind the rack in the potato chip aisle, out of sight of the cashier. Slip on the mask. My beautiful, beautiful Panda mask. Pull out the gun, but don’t arm it; you don’t actually want to hurt anyone. Leap out from behind the potato chip rack, rush the cashier, shove the gun in his face, probably held horizontally like in those movies because that just looks a lot cooler, demand in your deepest, meanest panda growl that he give you all the money—because really, who’s going to say no to a panda?—take the money after he gives it to you, run outside, start the car, pull the mask off, peel out of the parking lot, drive back to J & J, buy the biggest diamond ring you can afford with the cash, drive back down Route 10 all the way to the Starbucks in Denville, ask Amy to elope and run away (use of mask and gun only if necessary), live happily ever after, fin.
There were two things I failed to consider:
Well, okay three:
1. The bathroom. I forgot to check the bathroom, or even consider that there might be someone in bathroom. I didn’t know people actually used those bathrooms, except in Clerks.
2. That the person in the bathroom would also have a gun, and that his, unlike mine, would be armed.
3. That said person in said bathroom would be a professional panda poacher and incredibly impulsive. I never realized there was a market for panda pelts either. Who would want to kill something so cute and cuddly?
But before he saw the gun, before he even knew what was happening, he saw the panda mask, and Blam! Headshot. Our professional panda poacher is now the hero of Randolph, New Jersey, I’m a lonely corpse in a panda mask, and Amy’s making a caramel macchiato for someone else, completely unaware of the sacrifice I made for her in the name of love.
God I hate New Jersey.