It was the day before Valentine’s Day, and all over Silver Lake people were preparing for the most romantic holiday of the year.
Neal Guthrie, the owner of Gillyflowers on Sunset, was buzzing around his beautiful shop, which was packed with every kind of flower.
“Is Valentine’s the busiest day of the year?” a customer asked idly.
“It’s one of them,” he said, placing a few branches of cherry blossoms in a dreamy bouquet. Guthrie, who hired extra help for the day, added that he doesn’t think women necessarily need a whole bouquet of red roses for Valentine’s. In fact, he thinks something simpler or more personal is better, maybe just a few stems of a woman’s favorite flower.
Next door, Tatum De Roeck, an employee of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, was chatting about Valentine’s Day with her colleague Jennifer as they sat at their desks. This year, the sociable brunette said, she is “single and happy,” but she has some pretty good stories of Valentine’s past. There is the time, for instance, when a boyfriend took her away for a romantic getaway in Desert Hot Springs, only when they arrived, they discovered that they’d made reservations at a retirement community. But better yet is her postman story.
“I was 16 and totally in love with my postman,” said De Roeck, whose smile comes easily. “I would sit in my window and wait for him to walk by. It was coming up to Valentine’s Day so I got my friends, guy friends, to send me lots of Valentine’s Day cards so he would notice me. And it worked! Two weeks later I was at a pub and he spoke to me for the first time, and we ended up making out.”
Your postman wasn’t an old man was he?
“No, he was cute. He was 17.”
She added that the story, which took place back in England where she grew up, is one that couldn’t even happen today, given that hardly anyone sends valentines in the mail anymore.
“I mean I don’t even have people’s home addresses anymore. I think today it would be more MySpace comments or text. Times have changed.”
Outside the Casbah Café, Lauren Mace, 22, was reading. The pretty performance artist/musician/waitress said that the only valentine she expected to receive this year was the one she got from her mother yesterday, which included, to her delight, a coupon to the Olympic Spa in Koreatown.
Did you ever have a particularly bad or good Valentine’s Day?
“One time, a boyfriend — he was not into froufrou Valentine’s Day things at all, he hated the day — he gave me a bag of flour and some baking chocolate, as in ‘flowers and chocolate.’ I thought that was pretty funny. He was like, ‘Here is your fucking Valentine’s Day.’”
Around the corner, on the other side of the Casbah, Mike, “39 years young,” as he put it, and his friend Sam, 37, were both wearing big, dark shades and watching the people go by.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day; do you have a valentine this year?
“I guess I do,” said Mike, who was wearing a hat and what might be a vintage sweater. “I am already feeling the heat. Going back at least a week or two, I have been reminded, ‘Valentine’s is coming up.’ That’s kind of what annoys me about Valentine’s — the reminders and that you are expected to do something. I think, like Christmas, these holidays make a larger percentage of the people miserable than happy. Valentine’s is one more consumer day you are supposed to spend money buying gifts.”
“You aren’t gonna buy that teddy bear online?” smirked Sam, who, like Mike, was drinking a drip coffee to go. “That will put you in the doghouse if you buy that crap.”
Sam didn’t have a valentine this year. He’s been going through a seemingly prolonged breakup with a girlfriend he was dating for a number of years. He noted that he was surprised the breakup wasn’t faster.
Mike, do you have any plans for tomorrow?
“I don’t know what I am gonna do. I imagine the girl I am seeing will have to do something that is ‘Valentine’s Day’ worthy. What do you think she wants?”
“A ring, she wants a ring,” said his friend.
They both laughed.
Sam said that on Valentine’s past, he would take his girlfriend to dinner and then shopping. Also they would sometimes go to Twentynine Palms, which he seemed to enjoy. He said that he thinks Valentine’s Day can be any day of the year, and a wedding ring can cost eight dollars, not $10,000 — it’s the meaning that’s important.
“But you gotta pretend that you are listening,” he added.
Do you mean listening to your mate talk about Valentine’s Day?
“Yes. Does that sound mean or what?” he asked and shook his head.
“This might sound backward but I think Valentine’s Day ultimately is a better day to be single,” said Mike, who appeared to have been thinking this over for the last couple minutes.
You mean like Wedding Crashers?
“No. Just if you were single and you were gonna go out and try and meet someone, you would probably have better luck on Valentine’s Day, if that is your thing. Just ’cause people seem more conscious of the fact that they are alone. You know, I have spent more Valentine’s Days single than I have with a significant other, and it was actually more fun.”
Yeah, like Wedding Crashers. They would go to weddings to pick up single girls who were bummed they weren’t married, and they got laid.
“Huh, does that work?” Sam asked.
Well, it does in that movie.