I wrote the last blog post, so it seems to me that it should be someone else’s turn. But JD and Dianne are Not Speaking to each other more than usual. Chantal burst into tears and ran to her room. I think she might have broken up with someone. Darryl the Intern was happy to do it. He wanted to write about a wildlife sanctuary that would write your ex-lover’s name in animal-safe vegetable dye on raw meat and then feed it to an apex predator, complete with photos and video for the customer. I said I didn’t think that was the business image Black Orchid Enterprises wanted to project. JD and Dianne put their phones away and promised each other they wouldn’t contact the organization, not for each other, at least, because it is after all the season of love, not the season of watching your ex’s name and avatar be devoured by a wild beast.
Even earlier than Valentine’s Day (unless you want to associate it with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, which I would rather not, never being a fan animal sacrifice) is the Jewish Day of Love, Tu B’Av, which takes place in the summer. That makes more sense to me, at least for the Northern Hemisphere. You’re more likely to find flowers blooming in the summer, though they can be imported at great expense from other countries in February. Is that the point?
I haven’t seen any young women dress in white and dance in the vineyards so that young men can choose wives, but courtship customs have changed since the second century, and vineyards are not as plentiful as they once were. I’d have to ask the rabbi if a substitute is acceptable
I’m supposed to include a photo of flowers.
Flowers remind me of high school. Freshman year I didn’t understand why so many girls were crying on February 14. My research told me that many teenage girls are depressed on Valentine’s Day if they lack a partner. I don’t like to see people or animals suffer. So the next year, I went to florist and paid cash to have single roses delivered to each girl in my homeroom. I carefully chose colors not associated with love, so as to avoid false statements, and I scribbled an illegible signature on each card. The flowers seemed to make them happy, but the girls in my other classes were still sad. My lab partner bawled all the way through the experiment, and it was the kind of assignment that needed two people. Some boys looked sad too, but I knew better than to even make eye contact. High school is hard.
The next year I planned ahead and took enough cash to the florist for all the girls in all the homerooms. I placed my order early, to make sure they had enough, and I spent weeks writing the cards, printing the names and signing illegibly. I was worried that some girls might not be in the school directory, so I made some illegible cards and asked the delivery man to give them to any girl who didn’t receive a rose. He and the florist were very supportive of the project. This time they asked my name, and I used my first and middle name, John Ky. The florist wrote “John Key,” as I thought she might.
But it wasn’t enough of a disguise. She called the school and somehow they tracked me down. The florist wanted to run an article about the lovely young man who gave roses to all his classmates. I started planning my funeral. Fortunately the school had to call my parents before outing me. Once they understood what was happening, including my side of the story, they absolutely refused to allow my name in print. The newspaper did publish an article about an anonymous “Gentleman of the Rose” at my high school. I twitched for weeks afterwards as everyone tried to figure out who it was, but I already had a reputation as a weird kid, and I made it through the semester safely.
By the next fall I’d moved to Austin to enter college early. Valentine’s Day might have helped my parents to agree that was best for me. The following Spring I heard that several kids took on the mantle of the Gentleman of the Rose, some of them even girls. They didn’t seem to mind the publicity that horrified me. I hope the flowers made people happy.
I’m not sure I’ve done this blog right, so here’s some more flowers.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Even if you have no partner, love your friends and family. If you don’t have any, love your pets, other animals, music, books, anything that brings you joy. And especially love yourself. How can you expect anyone else to if you don’t?
And may you, like the famous internet cat, be loved for who you are.