It was the summer of engagement. Almost as if—like a light turning on—the entire generation took that next relationship step together, feet protruding in unison.
At first, you wanted to hear all the details: the whens and whys and hows of it all. But, WILL YOU MARRY ME? spelled out in beach rocks was superseded by a villa in Italia and then a handmade scrapbook with Post-it notes, rings hidden in cakes, Jumbo-trons, hot air balloons, a dolphin trained to flip a fish into her hands—“But look inside it!” Screaming yes with fish bones in her hair and scales under her nails, which of course would all wash off but the ring…the ring would last forever.
It was unusually hot for the east coast that year. The local news anchor reported record highs and an increase in violent crimes. Emotions were mounting—a reason for the onslaught of reported pregnancies and surge to the altar that a university professor hypothesized in an article he titled “In the Heat of the Moment” that met with much academic and critical excitement.
Jewelry stores had record profits, some locked up and left signs hanging in the window reading SOLD OUT—planning vacations to somewhere cooler. “How’s Alaska this time of year?” One laughed to his wife as they threw money at a travel agent.
Post office workers asked for a pay increase after Jim, a carrier, put his back out carrying the influx of wedding invitations. You got used to opening your mailbox and watching a pile of scented envelopes stream out like acceptance letters to Hogwarts.
Friends started sharing dates when everything booked up within the first week and no one thought to wait—or if they did, they couldn’t see the point in it. Why wait, when the rest of their lives was just around the corner?
Several people lost their jobs when they used up all their vacation time to attend weddings.
A barista at Starbucks got married to a regular customer on the spur of the moment prompting coworkers to throw coffee beans like rice at the happy couple and inciting a riot in the heart of the city that historians later referred to as the Civil Coffee Clash of 2012.
Pretty soon grocery stores were out of stock, if they were even open. Police officers charged with keeping the peace were busy honeymooning themselves or ushering their cousin’s nuptials. There was no one responsible for anything except falling in love.
Sane single people evacuated the city in droves. Or tried to, but fell in love on the bus, train, plane and succumbed like all the others.
Eight weeks after the first reported incident it was a ghost town. The military set up barricades around the entrance points—no one was to go in or out. The infected were to be treated with the utmost respect but rest assured that measures would be taken—measures had to be taken—to ensure the virus didn’t spread.
But spread it did.