i am sitting here staring at the vase of long stem roses that the husband sent me for valentine's day and i feel sad. i know that many, many years ago, when we were first married, receiving roses on valentine's day was a rule that had to be obeyed. not getting flowers was a sign, to me, that i was not loved. i remember our first valentine's day of our marriage. i think the husband thought that marrying me was proof enough that he loved me but he was oh so wrong. not only did i want roses, i wanted them to be delivered to my office so that not only would i know he loved me, but my forty-eight co-workers would know as well.
weeks before the big day i dropped hints - some subtle - some not so and the whole day on february 14th i made numerous excuses to leave my desk and wander out to reception to make sure my flowers hadn't arrived and were languishing at the front desk. finally, at around three-thirty the long white cardboard box tied with a bright red ribbon arrived. i don't think flowers are delivered that way anymore but there was nothing more dramatic than that long white box. everyone gathered around my desk and i played it out for all it was worth. first i read the attached card, clutched it to my breast and then read it out loud to much oohing and aahing. back in the day, the husband was quite the romantic and knew exactly what to say on cards. then i slowly removed the lid and peeled back the layers of green tissue and there they sat one dozen, long stemmed - GLADIOLAS!
what followed involved a lot of averted eyes and throat clearing as one by one my fellow workers went back to their desks. i was crushed. gladiolas? who sent gladiolas for valentine's day or, for that matter, any day except perhaps a funeral?
that night i left the office with the big white florist box clutched under my arm. everyone on the subway smiled at me - at the lucky girl who got sent a dozen roses for valentine's day. i dragged that box up five flights of stairs to our brownstone apartment and threw it on the sofa. i was only twenty years old and my heart was broken. if this was what marriage was like i wanted no part of it. when the husband came home there were tears on my part and explanations on his. it seems, this being his first year as a newlywed, that he didn't know that you couldn't call the morning of valentine's day and order roses. by the time he placed his order there was not a rose to be had in new york, new jersey or connecticut. he knew because he tried. i didn't care. i carried on like the spoiled brat that i was.
from that day forth and forever more i have received one dozen long stemmed roses on valentine's day. no more do they come in the glamorous white box but come they do. every year like clockwork the roses come with the card proclaiming his love. this year the roses came and i felt sad. i suddenly realized that i finally knew that this man loved me and he loved me every day of the year. he didn't have to send me roses anymore to prove it but he still did - every year- because of the way, so many years ago, that that spoiled twenty year old girl scared the newlywed twenty-four year old boy to death.