h2>Dating : 12 Free Roses
He was on the side of the road holding a sign reading “free flowers.” He had set up the tent for three years in a row during Spring to pass out bouquets of roses to drivers until he ran out of blooms.
When he set up the tent for this year’s flowers the thought occurred to him that he might have saved marriages. Men mostly come by on their way home from work, thanking him for the flowers which all most likely an attempt to rekindle passion with their wives. Others stopped by later in the evening after enough time to stop by Hooters after work, and usually took the flowers with a wink and a comment about keeping out of the doghouse.
Whatever their reason, his flowers were standing between these men and one more day of dead marriage. He did not go out on Valentine’s day, when men already have the obligation to bring flowers. He set up on the regular days where wives would not be expecting anything from their husbands, so he was always doing people a favor. He enjoyed hearing their inordinate thank-yous, the stories of marriages going awry, and the relief in their faces while knowing it was his bouquet that made the difference. He told people, especially his coworkers, and especially around the holidays, that he loves to give considerably more than he loves to receive. Since he grew up in church, he feels that it’s natural for him to be a giving person. He also feels, like most men do at some point in their lives, that he should a positive impact on his community. So, he began to consider giving away these flowers his Christian ministry.
He did not consider it overwhelming sacrifice; just “a kind thing to do.” It didn’t cost him any money to pick from his own bushes, but he did spend a few days in the Spring standing in the heat. His time was as well spent out in “the community” as at home, since all he would have been doing was watching new Netflix releases and eating early dinners with his wife. But she knew how important it was to him and never worries where he is. If it was his ministry, it was hers too. His marriage was strong: she never complained, and he never hurt her intentionally. She knew he loved her, and he always told her when he ran late so he didn’t need to bribe her with flowers. Because of how strong his marriage is, he had never gotten his wife a single flower out of the garden. The flowers are not for me, he thought, but for the people that need them.
His name is Adam, and he was formulating this sentence when a 1999 Cadillac DeVille hovered across the right lane and into the parking lot behind the flowers. Adam could see the old trilby hat through the man’s clean front window as he parked in the empty space by front of the tent of flowers so the hood ornament on the car turned red in the reflection of all the roses.
A minute passed before the man opened the car door. He placed his hat on the roof of the car, pulled his khaki leg out of the car onto the asphalt and stood up before putting his hat back his head. Adam searched the table he had covered in plastic-wrapped roses until he located the best-looking bouquet to give the old man. The old man came up to the other end of the table. He was skinny, as old men are sometimes, but not feeble. He leaned over the table, putting his weight on his arms, and smiled big enough that Adam could see he had dentures.
“How much, pal?” He said in the fleeing Bostonian accent that is unusually common in the area. Adam assumed the man could not read the sign.
“Actually, I am giving them away.” He beamed. The old man’s smile fell over his teeth, and he cocked his head at Adam.
“Well that’s just my luck.” He said, then stared at Adam without saying anything more. Adam didn’t know what to do when the old man stops talking; usually this was when the man would start explaining what they did wrong, or how they haven’t reconsumated their marriage in weeks, or months. He did not want to just hand over the flowers without connecting to the man, he thought.
“So, what did you do wrong?” Adam said playfully, raising his eyebrows.
“Well, nothing.” The old man replied apologetically.
“No, I mean it’s your…” Adam drew his words out, prompting the man to finish the sentence. “Wife, right? Are you just trying to be romantic?”
“I guess so.” The old man smiled. Adam was not satisfied. He held out the bouquet, smiling back.
“I’m just trying to figure out why you’re bringing your wife flowers.” The man didn’t grab the flowers. He dropped his smile. Adam gasped quietly as he saw the man’s mood shift. He did not want to cause a problem, just make conversation. He couldn’t understand why the man wasn’t telling him what the flowers were for. The old man shook his head and grabbed the bouquet.
“She doesn’t need any flowers from me.” He held the flowers to his chest.
“Why take — “ Adam corrected himself. “Then why are you bringing her these flowers?” The old man’s expression didn’t lighten.
“I’ve given my wife so many flowers she could live forever and have one for each day. There is no reason to give her another one.” The man finally smiled again. “That’s why I am getting her this flower.” Adam felt as if he should thank the man; to say something to explain himself. His role seemed to have flipped. The man didn’t notice his dumbfounded face of trying to think up something to say, but just examines the flowers, wiping dirt off their stems. “You’re really just giving them away?”
“Yes, yes. You don’t owe me anything. They’re on me.” Adam urged him, but the man didn’t leave. Adam uncomfortably held his eye contact as he pulled out his wallet.
“That’s kind, then, let me give you a tip.” The old man held out five dollars. Adam’s arm flinched. He thought about Jesus casting the money changers out of the temple. He thought that if he took the money, he would owe the man something.
“I appreciate the gesture sir, but I’m doing this out of the kindness of my heart.” Adam said. The old man didn’t apologize or thank Adam but dropped the flowers down to the table. Adam let his anger come out for a moment. The man was acting strange. “I don’t understand, do you want the flowers or not?” He asked incredulously.
“Sounds like you need them more than I do.” The man walked back to his car, leaving the flowers on the table. Adam had the overwhelming urge to leave the stand and go home, like that would be getting revenge on the man somehow. He watched the man sit in the front seat, and as he watched him had the very same overwhelming urge, but instead, to bring the man his flowers. Adam left the flowers and ran to the man before he shut the door.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know if I know why I do this anymore. Please, take the flowers. You’re the nicest man I’ve ever met.” Adam knew he was the one acting indebted now, although the man had done nothing for him. He was delighted when the man took the flowers. Adam stepped back from the car and began to pack up the tent.
He had no more desire to see himself in the eyes of all those broken marriages, and he just wanted to go home to his wife. When he arrived, he brought the most beautiful flowers he could find outside to his wife, something he had never thought of doing before.