A bit earlier today, as I was checking out at Central Market, the cashier made a snarky comment that stuck in my craw. I was buying Valentine’s flowers, cards, and dinner for Dennise and me. As I swiped my card to the beep of the register, the cashier said,
“Aw….just short-stem roses?”
She said it in a sweet voice. But I got every single syllable of the implied judgment.
She was making reference to the fact that I’d picked out “short stemmed” roses, instead of “long-stemmed” ones, for my wife and daughter.
My first thought was sarcastic. What I wanted to say was this:
“Well, the short-stemmed are half the price of the long-stemmed. And, they’re just freaking flowers, anyway. What the hell difference does it make? If you didn’t jack up the price by double, maybe I would have bought long-stemmed ones…”
But I said none of this. I just gazed off distantly, as if I hadn’t heard.
Even half-deaf guys can pretend not to hear, now and then.
Incredibly, though, since I obviously hadn’t reacted the first time, the cashier repeated herself! Seconds later, she said…
“Aw, just short-stem roses?”
I could not believe my ears.
At this point, what I wanted to say was:
“You have no freakin’ idea what you’re talking about. Let me tell you about what love is. Love is that I just spent part of Valentines Day with my Mother, at the cemetery. We were visiting my Father’s grave.
Not only that, but right now my wife and daughter are doing the same thing with my father-in-law, at a different cemetery in Irving.
That’s love too.
Love is not freakin’ chocolates and roses….and O. My. God!!!
….I even wrote a song about this that I SOOOO wish I could play for you right now….
But would you, Miss Cashier, possibly understand?
These stupid little presents? Chocolates and roses…and the insanely small difference between long and short stems? None of this matters!
The day-after-day, year-after-year commitment that eventually leads you to watch someone you love spend a part of their Valentine’s Day in a cemetery?
This is what I wanted to say to her…
But I thought, she’s working at freakin’ “Central Market” on Valentine’s Day.
Hell, maybe she doesn’t have anybody to bring her long or short stemmed roses. I don’t know anything about her. I don’t why she’d throw down such judgmental comment to a complete stranger. Why make a scene? You know what you know…that’s enough.
“Kum Ba Yah, Eric. Kum Ba Yah….”
So, I said nothing.
I just shot her a smile, so she’d know she’d been heard. I punched in my PIN number. I took my items, came home, and waited for my daughter and wife to return from their cemetery visit.
And that woulda been enough of a story to write you today.
But as it turns out, when we opened our Valentine’s Day cards a few minutes later, Dennise burst into laughter. I did too about a second later.
Then we gave each other a hug and a kiss. And she went off to watch TV, and I went to take my usual Sunday afternoon nap.
We shared that laugh and kiss because, out of the dozens and dozens of cards –at the separate stores we shopped today– here are the ones we picked out for each other…
I’m telling you, you can’t make any of this stuff up.
And you surely can’t explain it to the cashier at Central Market.