THE ROSES were marching through Metro. Guys abashed, aglow, red stems wrapped in crinkled paper. One dapper gent, an extreme outlier in a fine camel-hair coat, hoisted what appeared to be a fine marijuana plant.
Tall, dark, handsome, squat, old, young—all men on a mission.
There was the occasional woman. One sat across from me, in tight black jeans and painfully tall stilettos cuddling two bunches of carmine tulips.
At Foggy Bottom, competing stands boasted $10 bunches of roses, all of them red. At Whole Foods they filled the sidewalks.
I ordered a mop for The Prince. It’s a Libman Wonder Mop, which he experienced at my sister’s place in Florida. He scrubbed her terraces after washing the windows. I have a photo. The mop has fabric tassels and a self-wringer. The mop head is decorated with red polka dots, the handle is white; the colors of the Bulgarian flag. “I could use this on the
basement floor,” he murmured to himself. “But not on the wood floors, it might snag.” I knew then that nothing would thrill him more.
He’s big on mopping, and sweeping. It’s his form of meditation. Within five minutes of return from a two-week vacation he will sweep the street. “They’ll know I’m back,” he says, meaning the neighbors. On one trip, to the Dominican Republic I think it may have been, he took out a kayak. Baby (who was still traveling with us back then) and I observed from our lounges that he was sweeping the ocean.
I’ve tried buying him flowers in the past, but he accuses me of buying them for myself, which could be true. Now I make him a special dinner, mussels or salmon—favorite foods that are not mine so it’s clear that it’s his treat.
He usually buys me a plant, something flowering and heavily scented, and sometimes he repeats himself. For the last two years it’s been Stephanotis, a supercharged jasmine-like plant, though it’s not a jasmine. That’s fine, it does well winding around the back-porch railings in the summer, fat white blossoms slowly opening and perfuming the air.
What I’d really like is a roast beef . . . sigh. A two-rib (three? Be still my heart) roast, crusty on the outside, medium rare within. Yorkshire pudding. Creamed spinach. I don’t mind cooking a feast for myself, just hand me that slab of beef. No bow necessary.
Once you’ve been married 33 years, or maybe it’s 34, romance changes.
As it turned out, this Valentine’s Day was all about him. A floater in his eye mimicking a spiderweb across his vision sent him terrified to the eye doctor. We held hands in the waiting room, and watched Sell It or Fix It or somesuch on HGTV. I hate ornamental shutters, particularly those that don’t even bother to abut the windows.
But that is neither here nor there.
Nearby, a mocha-colored man in a beige leisure suit with what looked like a spot of egg on the lapel robo-called women, leaving messages one after the other in his best Al Green purr. “Hello, honey, happy Valentine’s Day, maybe we can get together later.” I suspected the women had caller ID.
Then the doc called The Prince in, did something magic with a laser, and we went home and watched Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins and I made crab cakes and biscuits.
He says maybe he’ll do Valentine’s Day on Saturday. That’s fine, as long as he’s there.
LittleBird Stephanie writes about city gardening (and many other things). You can read her previous dispatches by searching for Green Acre.