News / White Roses
I was raised to be a Roman Catholic, but in all honesty, I haven't gone to church since I was old enough to actually object to going to church. Which was about age six. I'm not particularly proud or embarrassed by this, it's just the choice I made in regards to my relationship with God. I prefer the Tesla model of religion; just buy it yourself and cut out the middle man. I write this because I recently had a delivery to a church in the lower East-side and when I left the shop, I had no feelings about this one way or the other. It was just another delivery.
I've never made a delivery to a church before and it was odd to me that such an abstemious institution would be the recipient of what some might consider a decadent gift. I entered the Father's office and nonchalantly told him he had a delivery. I placed the arrangement of white roses and white lilies on his spartan desk and he stared at them as though I had just thrown a gift card for a strip club in front of him. He looked at me, his face straining with questions and said: "Who would send me flowers?" I shrugged, not being familiar with his social circle. The Father read the card and smiled. "Oh. This is from an old parishioner of mine. I never thought they would remember me. Especially on my birthday. The world is full of wonders." I couldn't help but be touched that this man was still so in awe of something as simple as a flower delivery and I suddenly felt like a used up, jaded, spiritual whore who had long ago given up on being a human being.
He called in his administrative assistant and told her: "Can you please put these in the rectory? Such beauty shouldn't be enjoyed by just one person." She carefully took the vase and bustled out of the room. I left the church and remembered that such people do exist, even in a city as cynical as New York and in an organization that had seen so much personal turmoil as the Catholic Church. Maybe that's what organized religion is meant to be: a reminder of the good to which we can all aspire.
Last week I had a delivery that made me rethink my entire philosophy on marriage. In a good way. We see and hear so much about floundering relationships, dissatisfaction, and divorce, but occasionally something happens that reaffirms our commitment to the idea of life-long partnerships. It's like seeing someone win the lottery and thinking to yourself: "Hey, I can do that too!"
Two orders came in for the same address, an office building on 8th Avenue, and coincidentally, both were White Roses with Green Hypericum and Orchids. While I try not to deliver two at once, it wasn't a long walk so I juggled the two arrangements for the seven block trek. I entered the office building, one of those throwback designs to the 1950s with ashtrays in the lobby and Erté flourishes on the elevators. It was like stepping into a Frank Capra film. I expected to see Jimmy Stewart rushing down the hallway dropping papers and telling me to "hold the doors". I then looked at the card and realized that both deliveries were for the same office and I thought to myself: "This is odd." Odder still when I opened the door to a cramped office with two desks that looked like they sprouted crumpled paper like a fern. It was a dingy, single room affair with computers that could very well have been made of wooden parts. There, seated at their respective desks, was a man and woman who looked like they were in their 70s and I seemed to walk into the middle of a hostile corporate takeover.
The man was yelling to his co-worker whose ears were roughly seven feet from his mouth: "Why did you send them through the Azores? You know that's a nightmare!" To which she replied heatedly: "They wanted to go to Spain on a Sunday evening! That was the only route!" I stood there completely confused with two arrangements in my hands waiting for someone to recognize my existence when finally the woman yelled to me: "Yes?" I told them I had a delivery for Janice and Mort and they each looked at each other and, I swear to God I wish there was a soundtrack, because I could see the years melt away as these two, who seconds before were yelling about a chain of islands off the West Coast of Europe, now gazed upon one another as though they were in a soda shop after a sock hop. This only lasted a second before he blasted: "Why did you get me flowers on our Anniversary? You know I always get you flowers!" And, not to be outdone, Janice retorted: "I always get YOU flowers!" She looked at me with complete disbelief and informed me: "He's an idiot. We've been married for fifty-seven years and I buy him flowers every year. And he buys me flowers every year and every year we yell at each other for buying each other flowers on our anniversary. You'd think one of us would relent, but every year it's a contest." He turned to me and said conspiratorially: "We're just waiting to see which year one of us will forget. That's when we declare a winner."
I closed the door to hear them continue their argument about the Azores and thought to myself: "Those two might just make it."