Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cupid's Shadow

For many years, Valentine’s Day and the week surrounding it was just a week of intense work in the family flower shop. And don’t think your small hometown florist likes it. It’s hard, brutal physical labor. It’s rose thorns and 5-gallon buckets of slimy water and last minute men desperate to have something in their hands when they get home. It’s commercial and frivolous and ridiculous. It’s anxiety producing, guilt-ridden and fake.

Working in a flower shop you pretty much get to see it all. Flowers are bought for celebration at birthdays, births and weddings; for remembrance when someone passes on or is ill; and for good old getting out of the doghouse every day of the week. But I always think of those Valentine red roses as our own collective sexual/love/romantic shadow. Maybe because I was privy early on to the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, because I saw how men reluctantly did what they were “supposed” to do that day, and how women measured their men by whether they did the right thing or not, I am not sentimental about Valentine’s Day. You know how some people hate Christmas? Well, I hate Valentine’s Day.

In 1991, I received 7 dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. A few months later I married that man. A few months later I left in fear for my life. But, those roses – well, that and the 1 carat solitaire hooked me good. And even recently I have been seduced by pretty gifts and compliments and the promise of a little romance. But none of that is the real, real thing. Sometimes the real thing comes without nicely wrapped packages and sparkly diamonds or compliments you don't know whether to believe or not. Sometimes it comes very plainly, at the foot of a snow-covered mountain, and with the truth – no matter how unattractive it may be.


thailandchani said...

Wow... wish I could have said it so well. :) You've nailed it.

I've always intensely disliked "obligatory" holidays where certain sentiments were expected, whether we feel them or not.


Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

all true, all true. We live between two flower shops and it's hard work and long hours, that much is clear.
+ I remember the smirky look on a man's face when he came out of flower shop with a single rose. The expression said: "that should do it". I felt like shoving it up his...left nostril - and I wasn't even the intended recipient.
Intent gives meaning to these things - not the other way round.
Which is why when the intention is right, roses and diamonds are also very nice ;-)

jennifergg said...

yes, so true. thank you for reminding me!

woman.anonymous7 said...

Angela - Thanks for stopping by my blog. I wanted to respond to your comment.

What has happened in my relationship with Husband is only my path to learning the lessons that were there for me to learn. I believe that relationship and the particular pain I've experienced are only a vehicle by which I can begin to come to terms with, among other things, the unknowability of life, the fallibility of "good" people, and who I can be in the face of fear.

I believe the lessons that are there for us to learn will be there and will impact our lives no matter what vehicles we choose to ride in life.

All this to say that I hope my experience doesn't reinforce fear around relationships for anyone who reads it. I'm all for more love in the world, even when it comes coupled with some difficult growth experiences.

Angela said...


You got me there!

Woman Anon,

I hear you. I agree with you. I get it. Thanks for visiting both of you.

Anybeth said...

the truth is more attractive to me than any rose.

Beverly Keaton Smith said...

Angela, this is a powerful post. So rich and full of your voice. In the early days it annoyed me that my husband was reluctant to follow the holiday expectations around gift I realize and appreciate that every day is a holiday for us...and the sweet guestures ongoing, not just a few days a year...Sommuch better and sweeter than following the commericalized approach on our journey together...Thanks for sharing yoru wisdom...

Angela said...

Thank you, Beverly. Yes, who will be there, day in and day out, wiping tears and sharing laughter - that's the one you want to go with!

bella said...

Now that I have my son the holiday is mostly about cutting out hearts and making cookies with him. But the other side of this day? I hear you. How easy it is to be deceived by pretty packaging. Real love sees the whole and is seen in whole, the light as well as the shadow.

Rick Hamrick said...

Angela--I sent my wife a cute collection of quotes from small children on what they thought of love.

One little girl, 7 years old, said it was telling a boy you liked his shirt, and then he started wearing it every day.

My wife has some insight into the whole 'design my man' issue, and her response to me was that, in her view it is, "telling a man you don't like his shirt, he starts wearing it way too often, and you still love him."

We do special occasions on our own schedule, not based upon the sales numbers retail establishments are seeking to hit and entice us to help them with.

She loves getting flowers, so I bring them home for no better reason than I thought of it on the way home from work. Not lots of times, so there is no predictability to it...just to make the day a special one.

I'm careful not to think of it in the middle of February.

Angela said...


It never crossed my mind that you would not "get it." You're a true woman's man (that's a compliment, by the way!) and Julia is one lucky lady.

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks, Angela. I consider it a compliment of the highest order! Julia is lucky, although I suspect I am the luckier one.

Anonymous said...

I can take it or leave it, this holiday. But I'd rather have a handful of wildflowers from the roadside just for no reason at any time of year.

Angela said...

Amen, Sistah.

Blankfrank06 said...

Simply beautiful

Julie said...

I'm not even a big fan of roses. Victor had the cat send them this year, which was slightly cuter, but I wish the cats would just scoop their own box or something.
It seems like a holiday designed to put pressure on couples and make single people feel worthless. It's right down there with NY eve in my book.

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