Of Men and Roses

It’s no good trying to fool yourself about love.  You can’t fall into it like a soft job, without dirtying up your hands. It takes muscle and guts.  And it you can’t bear the thought of messing up your nice, clean soul, you’d better give up the whole idea of life, and become a saint.  Because you’ll never make it as a human being.  It’s either this world or the next.  John Osborne, Look Back in Anger


I wanted to sleep and wake up on February 18.  No one shrinks from Valentine’s Day like I do.  It is not because I abhor sentimentality. I have a deep fondness for that which makes you fleet and float and flitty-flee and fly. I can fritter away my time reading Neruda and Rumi, or watching The Love Affair for the nth time. I adore fated meetings that lead to soft wet kisses on a woman’s back. Dark chocolate and scarlet red roses, I am that kind of girl.  But if you please, not on Valentine’s Day! It’s February 6 today and I have been cursing the season. For the past four years, I have been loathing every rose, every bear, and every heart balloon bellowing “Happy Valentine’s Day!”  Well, not today.  Writing this piece, I am illumined by the splendor of what I do. We grow flowers, the lucky kind that gets picked to bear love and heartache, joy and pain, every yearning, and a lot of times, carry tears of regret and hope. There is something magical about what I do.  I carry sentiments. I get to see every bold and brazen guy in town and all over the world, get loopy over the Day of Hearts. And oh, if there was one thing I am fond of, it’s watching cool dudes sheepishly choose a flower arrangement to symbolize devotion and then painfully declare love on a piece of paper.  No matter how hard and callous our world has become, I have a daily, hourly, by the minute proof of love in all its guises: There’s the husband who writes: “I fall in love with you everyday;” Casanovas who cunningly order identical bouquets of flowers bearing the same love notes to three different girls; doting sons who buy two bouquets every year for their two great loves: mother and wife; a horde of faraway husbands and lovers blowing their kisses in the wind; besotted lovers onto a new romance; smitten couples who are yet to meet; my list is as boundless as the love that overflows. And oh, the prose and poetry that love can inspire.  Lest not forget a few brilliant lines. Message for the bejeweled wife of an affluent executive who obliged his driver to buy his wife’s prized flowers: “Happy ValentiMes!”  At least, he left out “Ma’am.”  Still, and clichéd and soppy as it may read, whether it’s a husband who knows his lines, a Casanova who knows even better, or even when all the grammar falls apart, every man falls in love and tells it so. They touch the very same virtue and vice that launched a thousand ships, wrote “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” painted Mona Lisa and played Canon in D.  Every human being, whether he’s all muscle and brute, at one time or another, will be captivated by love. And one day I’ll find him at our flower shop. And it’s Valentine’s season again. And how I would want to wake up on February 18 when all their sentiments have already been sent and I can once again be enamored by love.

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