Be Mine, Valentine: Flowers


How to Be Remembered

While I was in college pursuing a double degree in journalism and theatre arts, I performed at several plays around the local theatres in my hometown. Every night, at about 2 a.m., I came out of my rehearsals exhausted, only to find my car had been vandalized.

Criminal Mischief

Someone was defacing it completely with toilet paper. This had been going on for about a week. Curiously, when I came out to discover my vehicle in this sabotaged state, two of my male friends from high school would happen to appear together, walking aimlessly through the deserted neighborhood.

We would run into each other, like a great big coincidence, and they would ask me who I thought did it. I had no idea, I told them. I could not understand who would be doing this to my car. The guys were the sweetest characters, but also kind of silly. For some reason, they always seemed to have a contagious case of the giggles, which they passed back and forth to one another as we tried to figure out who was responsible for this vicious attack.

“What’s so funny?” I would ask them, bewildered. Saying very little, they came to my rescue, helping me clean up the mess, night after night.

It’s Been Staged

One hot, muggy summer morning after another intolerably long, arduous dress rehearsal, I came out dead tired, again, only to find my car defaced, again. But this time, in a good way.


The toilet paper was all right there in front of my eyes. This time, however, the vandals elevated the assault with a flurry of Silly String sprayed all over the place. They had tied bundles of balloons around my car, and left a bouquet of a dozen yellow roses on the windshield.

Despite numerous hints, I honestly didn’t know who had pulled such a playful prank at first, because perhaps I can be a bit gullible–in fact, I’ll admit that’s the understatement of the century–but believe me, it was quite a mess cleaning all that Silly String off my little black Honda because the perps were indeed very thorough in their efforts. It is one of those things that I will never forget.

An Anonymous Tip

Turns out, it was the two guys from my high school. The one, Alex, went on to Harvard, and then later to Georgetown Law School before taking a career u-turn inspired by his wife and children.

And of course there is Luc, the unforgettable exchange student from Belgium, who is now running his family’s clothing store near Waterloo. He is still eccentric, but I am told he has settled down, at least a bit, with a nice woman.

I haven’t seen those little deviants since that crazy time in my life, but Alex wrote me recently with a full confession to the clever crime against my car: “Sorry! It just seemed to cry out for decoration,” he said innocently. “Surely you understand that.”

And although I am fond of accessories, that wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Yet to this day, the memory haunts me with affection. I can’t help but smile.

Thanks, Alex…and Hi, Luc. Long time no see. Nice work boys, as always. I am seriously glad that my being completely dumb can provide amusement to others, and also to myself.


The Importance of Being Earnest

When you’re at a loss for words, ideas, time or cash as Valentine’s Day approaches, consider, simply, flowers. For a sincere and heartfelt gift for your guy, or your girl, or a dear dear friend, they’re perfect.

It may seem like an unexpected choice to give flowers to the male specimen, which is exactly what makes it so memorable. Or if you just want to say thanks for the favor, flowers are always right. They don’t have to be cliche, and the sentiment behind them lingers long after the scent is gone. The importance lies in the execution of your floral gift, to make a lasting impression.

Flowers with Flourish

Someone once said that real friendship is like a rose because we don’t see its true beauty until it fades. So what more symbolic token of your love, friendship, or thanks can you bestow than a beauteous bouquet of blooms or a single rose, presented with style.

Picking Your Flowers

There are several considerations when picking your flowers. Your budget, of course, will determine what to buy your sweetheart. Depending on how much money you’d like to spend, you can go simple and elegant, or choose something larger than life, or both. It’s entirely your call.


You want to consider the recipient and their personality. Are they artistic and creative? Perhaps an asymmetrical display of bright poppies or a generous bunch of tulips are a good choice.


If your love is a classic kind of person, roses are right. You can present them with a twist in yellow, as my friends did, or striking stark white, or in the stunning flame variety, below, for the one that sets your heart on fire.


Talk to a good florist and get their opinion. I can guarantee you anyone would love receiving a single giant rose, like the ones pictured below from Fiesta Roses. Laid elegantly on a dining table or bed, and accompanied by a thoughtful card with a few choice words, you’ll never be forgotten.


A Single Stem

One of my favorite singers–the velvet-voiced legend Leonard Cohen–immortalizes the single stem in ‘Everybody Knows.’ You really must listen to the entire song to appreciate the talented Mr. Cohen, but here are some choice lyrics for you now.

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows


Making it Last

If you’re wanting a more masculine gift, or if the object of your affection would prefer a nice tasteful plant, you may want to consider a lovely perennial. A perennial is a plant that has a life cycle lasting more than two years. So even if you’re not around that long from now, your loved one will have something to think about when you present them with a Perennial Beauty.


Take a look at the architectural Agave, above, or opt for a lush indoor fern, below. Either will suit your suitor.


Truly, Madly, Deeply

When I fantasize about true love and romance, I am reminded of the insane affair between the legendary social activist Emma Goldman and her long-time love, Alexander Berkman.

Described as the most dangerous woman in America by the media, Emma Goldman’s life was filled with controversy, and passion for her political causes of equality and justice.

The Homestead Plot

It was a murder scheme that bonded the scandalous lovers, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, in 1892. Their plan? To kill Henry Clay Frick, a factory manager who was repressing the workers at a steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

It’s a long, twisted tale, but suffice it to say that Emma found Henry Clay Frick utterly despicable and believed his murder would produce positive social change for the working class. In fact, she even begged Alexander to allow her to participate in the crime.

Alexander was determined to do the deed solo, but in a crazy turn of events it was an ironic failure. He was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Diamonds are Forever

During Alexander’s incarceration, Emma’s life was very difficult without him. Like a true gem, she waited for her man, who was suffering behind bars. When she met him on the platform upon his release, she was, in her own words “seized by terror and pity” looking at his gaunt, pale appearance. Neither of them was able to speak. She presented him with a bouquet of roses, and they went home in deafening silence.

Mad Love

That’s mad love, baby. These are the cinematic gestures that movies are made of. And while it’s true that flowers will eventually perish, just like everything else in this world, it seems, the persistence of memory will endure, eternally.


Perhaps you’ve seen the DeBeers Jewelry commercials informing us that Diamonds are Forever, but the legendary Emma Goldman, who waited 22 years for her man while he was behind walls, was quoted saying, “I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

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