But luckily, Fate had other plans in store for me. When I got to work, my coworkers were all excited because the pop-up Exploratorium museum across the street from our headquarters was having a special Valentine's event. There would be free wine - which was all it took to entice we gallery assistants to show up - and vouchers for five dollars off at the local used bookstore. There would be Valentine's-themed exhibits, including a live heart dissection. Now how could I pass all of that up?
There weren't too many people there, which was nice. After collecting the mandatory glasses of wine, we listened to an excited employee as he showed us a cacao pod and described the process of turning the beans into tasty, tasty chocolate. He even offered us a chance to taste the pulp that surrounds the beans, which is normally discarded as there's very little of it. I was game, as was my coworker Kiki. It wasn't bad at all - tasted rather like bananas with a touch of lychee - but basically the only way you can get the flavor is by sucking on a cacao bean, which is weird. I wrapped my bean up in a bit of paper so that I could take it home and plant it, as the Exploratorium employee suggested - I doubted I'd ever get the plant to grow, since San Jose isn't at all the proper environment for cocoa plants, but it would be a fun experiment.
A projector ran on one end of the museum's main hall, screening naughty animal porn. Very nature documentary sorts of things, like copulating octopi and Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno short video series. It was an appropriate backdrop for the evening, with nicely dressed patrons of middle and advanced age watching each short film with the sort of thoughtful, serious expressions visitors get when viewing a Rembrandt or a Mondrian.
But of course the main attraction - other than the tray of chocolates and the wine refills - was the heart dissection. Did you know that "heart strings" are a real, actual thing? I didn't, and I was shocked when the technician cut into a cow's heart, pulled it open, and plucked on a series of little white sinews that looked, yes, rather like a series of harp strings. After donning a pair of rubber gloves, I was allowed to reach over and pull each one gently - and I was surprised by taut and strong each heart string was! The technician was very knowledgeable, and described the different chambers and muscles and tissues that make up the heart, but I was too enthralled by the heart strings and the fact that you can pull them to retain the information she shared.
My Bloody Valentine's