ON THE SAME PAGE

So it's Valentine's Day last week and Mrs P and I are off to an appointment in the Big Smoke.

Naturally, I can't function properly at that hour without a precise amount of caffeine circulating throughout my body, so we pull into a servo to fill up. With coffee, not petrol.

Now, lest you think I am some kind of inconsiderate ogre who does not to do the Valentine's thing or cherish the existence of his beloved, I should point out Mrs P and I had already bought ourselves a joint V Day gift the previous weekend.

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That was when the practical bloke in me emerged.

I always buy a little something for my beloved on V Day. Naturally, over the years, wine, roses and chocolates have been the go-to favourites, but some years it gets hard to find something different.

This year we found one of those big soft footrest things you can plonk your size 12s on while you're watching Shorty.

I know I know. Not very romantic is it? But it served a purpose. We'd been keeping an eye open and there it was.

Mrs P was keen so I said why don't we buy it for each other as a Valentine's Day present? And she agreed, mostly because she knew I would get her a little something else more personal anyway but I think also because she was getting fed up with buying me sexy underwear.

If I'm honest I was quite glad. Those G-string thongs she's been buying me have been very uncomfortable these past few years. Anyway ...

So here we are at the servo and there are the usual 463 people from all walks of life milling around waiting to order or collect their coffee.

On my turn at the counter I've just paid and am about to put my card away when Mrs P places a banana on the counter.

"And that," she says with the unconcerned calmness of one who has little interest in the complex financial transaction that has just been signed off and now will have to be undertaken all over again.

Slightly irritated (and yes, dear reader you are right, on occasion I do sweat the small things) I reach into my pocket for my wallet and discover instead a $2 coin.

Miraculously that's the cost of the banana so we are back on Easy Street again and I lay down the cash which keeps everyone happy. Especially the lady behind the counter who has witnessed the late arrival of the banana to the checkout.

The item paid for I then presented it to Mrs P and in my customary loud voice for all to hear I said: "Happy Valentine's my darling, Don't say I never get you anything".

That's when the fun started.

The comment drew a raucous laugh from the previously frazzled lady behind the counter and her mate behind the coffee machine.

A waiting truckie, resplendent in fluorescent singlet and work boots, looked up from demolishing a pie and said with a smile: "I might get one for the missus."

A smart lady in a business suit looked up from her phone (there's always someone on a phone these days isn't there?) and joined in the banter.

"At least you got a banana," she said to Mrs P with a smile which, to be honest, left me thinking her partner was really going to cop it when she got home.

The boys in the branded polo shirts of XYZ Electrical laughed. "You got off easy," one told me with a forced smile as his mate roared, suggesting an uber expensive Valentine's Day gift had broken the bank somewhere along the line.

As Mrs P and I walked across the forecourt with our coffee – and her banana – I couldn't help but think how a simple comment and a strange-looking piece of fruit had brought a little bit of sunshine into the lives of our fellow early-morning travellers.

I'm thinking I might be on to a money-spinner with this banana lark, too.

So, next year when it comes to Valentine's Day, I think you should forget the red roses and buy your beloved a banana. But if you are a bit unsure and think you need something extra give me a shout.

I'll do you a deal on a whole bunch.

■ Kevin Page is a teller of tall tales with a firm belief too much serious news gives you frown lines. Feel free to share stories to kevin.page@nzme.co.nz .