Monday was Valentine’s Day, and as I traveled down U.S. 40 to pay a visit to our insurance agent, I saw evidence of the commercial nature of this bright holiday. In the parking lot of a florist shop, across from a large shopping center, I saw a man-sized, hot pink gorilla. Against the backdrop of the florist’s neon “open” sign, the pink gorilla man kicked his heels. He danced a little “stir the pot”, and waved his arms at passing cars to, “come on in.” I’m not really sure what a dancing gorilla has to do with Valentine’s Day, but the parking lot was full so it appeared to be working.
Along the way, I saw shops with flowers arranged to form giant red and pink hearts in windows and vans on exit ramps with 5-gallon buckets of flowers for the lover who can’t quite commit to parking the car and walking in. There were chocolate shops, their windows filled with red foil wrapped cardboard hearts and sandwich boards adorned with heart-shaped Mylar balloons announcing the best deal around on a dozen roses.
The over-the-top ridiculous competition to get people to spend some cash on one day out of the year made me giggle and the gorilla made me laugh out loud. But, one sight that day made my heart swell.
In a neighborhood that had seen better days; the clapboard buildings in need of paint and curbs still wearing weeds from last fall, I saw a young man, probably a teen. He wore his hair shaved close to his head and jeans three sizes too big, belted mid-thigh. He had the hood of his over sized sweatshirt pulled over his head, but I could still see the firm set of his jaw as he walked down the street. He had just left a florist shop with a large bundle of red roses wrapped in Valentine red tissue paper. He carried the bundle in one hand, held out from his body as if it might burst into flames any moment. Carrying flowers, it appears, didn’t fit his Eminem emulating image.
A crazy day of commercialism inspired this guy to step way outside his comfort zone and into a flower shop. I hope he was on a personal mission that day, taking that bundle to someone he loves. I like to imagine that the tough-looking young man I saw along US 40 on Valentine’s Day has a tender place in his heart.