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Persistence and Patience

High end strip clubs have become a regular item in New York. Sure, there have always been strip clubs, but now they're mostly owned by corporations and they're big money makers. Full disclosure: I've never been to one. I figure, why would you spend the money on someone you know isn't going to sleep with you when you can spend that same money on a date and at least have a  chance? But, to each his or her own.

I had delivery of two dozen long-stem red roses to a well known and well populated strip club on the West Side addressed simply to "Patience". Look, I'm a man, so if I get to meet a stripper, yeah, I'm a little charged about even though I'd be going during the day, and if you've ever been to a strip club during the day, it's a pretty rough time. No one's on their A game, and let's face it, if you're a patron either you're depressed or desperate or both and that's not a pretty smell. I gave my usual patter to the front doorman about "having to deliver these personally" and was ushered to the back of the club under the protection of a man I simply knew as "Bone". When we arrived at the stable door, he called out for Patience who came to the meet me and I handed her the flowers. As far as strippers go, Patience was definitely a stripper. She was wearing a robe open at the front and a leopard print, two piece that her parents probably wouldn't approve of.  Her reaction was not what I expected as her face registered total disappointment. She seemed to age ten years as every line in her face became a road map of her past. She asked me: "Are those from Jack?" I nodded solemnly as though I were her best friend commiserating over some sad news. "This guy. He came in once and I gave him a lap dance, like two months ago, and he sends me flowers every night I'm here." She took the flowers and I heard another woman from the back of the room scream: "Jack's back!" But before she closed the door I heard her answer to her friend: "I'll probably end up marrying the guy. God knows he's earned it."

Bone laughed and said: "She probably will."

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Less Is More

New York is a moneyed city. It has always been the center of finance in the United States and probably always will be which means a great deal of those whom reside here work for various financial concerns. You've got your brokers, your lenders, your traders, the guy who will loan you money at 50% or take your fingers. There's money for everyone and everyone wants to make more if you're smart and savvy enough. I'm apparently neither nor have I ever been blessed with the ambition to own a vacation house ... or really just a house. But I am surrounded by those who do, and as a flower delivery person, I often come into contact with some heavy hitters because they are usually the recipients of sycophantic offerings from obsequious underlings.

In this instance, I was to deliver an arrangement for the wife of what I can only assume was a very important manager in his company, but I was surprised by the notable modesty of the delivery. It was a simple vase of 6 tulips, not the usual overblown delivery of dozens of roses or full bouquets of exotic flowers, just tulips. I rang the bell and a housekeeper opened the door. Usually housekeepers are very kind and often invite me in at least for a glass of water especially when the weather is oppressively hot as it was on this particular day.

I entered the home and saw it was completely crammed with the most ostentatious arrangements I'd ever seen. Flowers from every continent were packed one on top of another covering every surface of open furniture. While in the kitchen, the wife of entered and greeted me kindly. She then indicated to the encroaching flowers and asked wearily: "Is this another arrangement?" I handed her the simple bouquet and she smiled with relief. "Thank God!" She exhaled. She read the card and smiled. "I don't know who this is, but they certainly won this contest. I'm going to put these in our bedroom. These others are going to charity." The smartest person knows that to stand out, sometimes that means doing less.

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The O'Henrys

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."

 

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Keeping the Flowers

This week I had "a domestic". It's what the police call a "domestic disturbance", but in my community it's what we refer to as a delivery so laden with apology it makes it ten pounds heavier to carry with the added guilt. In most cases it's the usual: a fight, staying out too late, flirting with the wrong woman or man, the usual marriage discourse. They are almost always roses. I'm wondering if roses ever think to themselves: "Why us? Why are we always responsible for patching up relationships?" They must feel like default couples therapists at this point.

In any case, I was delivering four dozen roses, which in my world means a seriously heavy transgression must have occurred. The apartment was in a very upscale neighborhood and my first thought was four dozen isn't going to be enough. I rang the bell and a beautiful woman in her 40s opened the door, well dressed and with an expression as though to say "What now?" She looked the flowers over as a chess grandmaster scrutinizing their next move. "What are those?" She asked, her tone dripping with derision. "They're what we call in the industry 'a floral arrangement'." She was not amused and now included me in her mental list of whom she hated. "What if I don't accept them?" I pondered this a moment and realized that this had never happened to me before. No one had ever refused a delivery. I answered: "I guess I'll just take them back." She thought about this for a moment before she looked at her credenza in the hallway where a vase with slightly wilting flowers were slowly shuffling off their floral coil. The elegant woman looked back at my flowers said in a voice almost to herself: "I'm keeping the flowers, but it'll take a lot more than four dozen roses to fix it." She reached her hands out and I gave her the delivery. Without saying a word or even thanking me, she closed the door while I stood shivering in the wake of a bristling cold front that had just dropped the temperature forty degrees.

I don't know how much more it was going to take to win this woman's heart back, but I do know that if she kept the flowers, this person at least had a fighting chance.

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The Rehearsal Stopper

One of the great things about working in New York is the theater scene. Yes, it has diminished greatly over the years due to rising rents, but its presence is still very much felt. My favorite deliveries are to theaters because I insist I deliver them directly to the intended recipient so my flowers don't get lost or poached by another performer. Most theater managers let me. Because of this, I've been able to meet some famous people, but it's the up and comers that are the most fun deliveries.

Yesterday I had a delivery of garden roses and peonies, an arrangement that says "I am seriously thinking about you." It was for a performer named "Matt". So I made my way to the dressing rooms and asked to see a Matt N--- and was pointed down the hallway where I found a young man, in his 20s, applying makeup. I entered with my bouquet and his face lit up with joy. "Are those from Steven?" I said I didn't know and handed him the vase but not before three other members of the show's chorus flew into the tiny room firing off several questions in rapid succession. "Is that the guy from last weekend?" "You said he wouldn't call!" "Damn, girlfriend, the last time someone sent me flowers was when my career died!" You know, it always seems like you've heard that "gay sassy patter" a million times in movies and television, but I swear, when you hear it happening spontaneously around you it's still the most entertaining dialogue. At one point the stage manager announced over the loudspeaker for the chorus to please report to the stage, but no one heard it as they were pecking Matt for information on his mysterious new boyfriend.

Finally, the stage manager, a rather sweet looking woman in her thirties marched down to the dressing and screamed: "What the hell is going on?" Everyone froze in terror. In the the theater world, pissing off your stage manager is like if pissing off your waiter; you're not sure what's going to happen, but it's not going to go down well at all. The stage manager saw the flowers and her face beamed. "Matt! Are those from ... the guy?" He screamed "Yes!" and then everyone screamed. Five minutes later, as Matt was still answering questions, no one heard the director over the loudspeaker calling for everyone to please report to rehearsal on stage.

 

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Unseasonable Warmth

I mentioned earlier in my posts, which I'm sure you're all read up on, that as a flower delivery professional, I sometimes get a peek into complete stranger's lives. Sometimes it's more than a peek, sometimes it's a panoramic view. On one such occasion, I had a very simple delivery to someone on the middle East Side of Manhattan. The delivery was a humble offering, nothing too overtly romantic or histrionic, just your beautifully arranged Calla Lilies and Tulips; an effectively modest design of flowers that says "I'm thinking of you." The card, which I had printed out was equally low-keyed and warmly stated: "I will always be there for you. Always."

I rang the buzzer on the destination and a young woman answered the door, her eyes red and swollen and her general demeanor seemed as though she had just been run through an emotional blender. I handed her the vase of flowers and she looked at me as though she were portraying Blanche DuBois and I the paperboy in a Streetcar Named Desire; it was a mix of confusion, hope and utter despair. She invited me in and wandered around to the kitchen where she poured a glass of water and handed it to me. I didn't ask for a glass of water, but I wasn't about to start pointing out symptoms of her unraveling mind, so I happily accepted her generous gift and drank it down while she looked at me with a penetrating stare.

She sat on the couch and gazed at some point in the future and it was then that I noticed that her living room looked as though she had not been outside in several days. Pizza boxes, soda and beer cans, magazines and newspapers seemed to compete with each other to take up the most floor space. What I can only guess was a pair of sweat pants, even too soiled for someone as seemingly depressed as this woman, was balled up and now being used as a pillow. I put the flowers on the table in front of her and she gave me a far off look before asking whom the flowers were from. I told her there was no name on the card and handed it to her gently. She opened it up and began to cry. But these were not the tears of someone who was broken, in fact, they were tears one has after running a marathon. It was the rain after a long dry heatwave. She thanked me the way someone thanks the captain of a boat who saves them after being lost at sea in a life raft for weeks. This woman then asked me what it was like outside and I told her it was unseasonably warm. She smiled with an inner relief and I knew I had just seen someone saved from the brink.

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Let The Wrong One In

There is a saying about being lazy and it goes something like, "lazy people work twice as hard". (For the record, I never understood that adage as the definition of a lazy person is literally someone who doesn't work, so if they work twice as hard, how can they be lazy?) I never considered myself lazy until the intercom in my apartment broke and I was forced to descend 4 flights of stairs each time someone decided to play a little game I like to call "Who's Home?" It's a game wherein anyone who needs a signature for a package or wants a petition signed pretends they're a chimpanzee pressing buttons for their food in a lab experiment.

On this particular Saturday morning at nine o'clock, the delightful chime of my door buzzer alerted me that someone was downstairs. My friends know to call directly to my cellphone so I assumed it was a delivery for a book I had recently ordered. I happily pressed the button opening the front door to my building and threw on a pair of pants as I am sure no delivery person needs to see me pantless on a Saturday morning. A few minutes went by and no one knocked on my door. My mind rationalized that it was probably someone who forgot their keys and was hoping one of their neighbors would rather have a murderer in the building than walk down four flights. Out of curiosity, I stuck my head into the hallway to listen for gunshots or screams, but instead was treated to something much more horrifying. Through the echoey din of the stairwell I heard the words that sent panic coursing through my body: "Excuse me, have you read our magazine, The Watchtower?"

I don't know a lot of my neighbors, but I have watched them release a torrent of passive aggressive abuse on people in the building that would make most of our mothers look on in horror. I have seen memos taped up in the hallway with objective pronouns clearly pointed at that guy in 3-F who didn't recycle and passing comments like "Hey, you're that guy who listens to Tori Amos really loud all night" and "Wow, you and your boyfriend really like loud sex". If they found out I let some Jehovah's Witnesses into the building because I couldn't muster the energy to let someone in personally, I can't imagine memo taped up next to our mailboxes with particular phrases underlined for added affect pointed specifically at me.

I quickly threw on my shoes and ran downstairs where two well-dressed and middle aged women were hovering in front of an open door. An attractive young woman stared, wide-eyed at the pair as they asked her if was interested in saving her soul. I interjected, trying to repair the damage I had inflicted on my hapless co-inhabitants. "Excuse me! I'm sorry, you rang my bell and I thought you were someone else. You're going to have to leave the building." The two Jehovah's Witnesses stared at me as though I had grown horns and was now poking them with a pitchfork. They responded with the calm assurance of talking to someone already in hell. Our rather calm, but heated, discussion began to draw others from their apartments like curious woodland creatures checking to see which of their friends was shot.

Finally I walked the two out of the building and as I walked back to my apartment one of my neighbors confronted me and said "Dude, you got to come down and let people in. That's not cool." No. It was not cool. But what was even less cool was that same day someone had put a label on my buzzer by the front door which simply read "Broken". (I've always wondered if the people who created label makers ever realized the passive aggressive uses for which it would be employed on the population.) I was about to remove the label and thought better of it. I agreed to accept this as punishment for being a terrible neighbor. On my way back upstairs I picked up a copy of The Watchtower the women had left in the lobby and read it cover to cover as penance for Sloth.

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The Sixth Sense Of Humor

As you know from my earlier entry, I'm involved in online dating. Involved might sound a little clinical. I'm destroying my fragile ego with online dating. That's probably more accurate. I've gone on a few dates and had very nice conversations with some very nice women. Most importantly I've learned one thing: Women say they want a man with "a sense of humor" but what they mean is "their sense of humor". And that, my friends, is a whole different ballgame.

Let me illustrate with an anecdote from one of my most recent date-sasters. My new potential life partner and I are at an outdoor cafe enjoying the New York summer, when a woman sits down next to us with a "comfort dog"; one of those little canines you keep in your purse presumably because women don't carry enough in them. My date compliments the woman on owning such a lovely animal and then turns to me and asks: "Do you like dogs?" To which I reply: "I don't know if I'm that hungry." To which she responded with a blank stare before the corners of her mouth turned down into what can only be described as a date-ending scowl.

You see, what I did wrong there was not accurately assessing my date's ability to view eating a dog as humorous and paid the price for it, not to mention the lunch tab, which came out to roughly $50. However, it did teach me a valuable lesson: Don't EVER make a joke on a date unless you know if your date is the type of person who watches Arrested Development or Three and a Half Men. 

 

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The Silent E-diot.

For most foreigners learning our language, the silent "e" is a strange concept. Words like "knife" "wise" and "pure" seem to antagonize their sense of logic and while we native speakers have grown accustomed to its annoying presence like a drunk relative we dismiss offhandedly, we take it's annoyance for granted. As a flower delivery specialist (I'm trying out this new title, I think it gives me an air of dignity) I work with a lot of people who've immigrated to our country and, on occasion, am asked about several of our linguistic anomalies. Another big one is the "gh" standing for "f". I try to explain to them that "sometimes it's just an 'f' sound" and am met with a look as if I just explained why my girlfriend was out until 2 in the morning with "an old friend". It's a look of half sympathy and half disrespect. As though to say: "Hey, it's your language, whatever makes you happy." But I've also noticed recently another, more hidden lexicon, that is far more universal and equally as silent: The Silent E-diot.

Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was given a beautiful gift of a wrist watch. Despite the fact that no one wears them anymore, it's one of those anachronisms I can't seem to part with and it's really the only jewelry a man can wear without being labeled a hipster or metrosexual. When I received the watch I noticed it wasn't running, so I took it to a small watch repair shop in the East Village. I handed it proudly to the employee and asked him to change the battery. He told me it would be five minutes and I could wait if I liked. Ten seconds later he handed the watch back to me and told me it didn't need a battery to which I replied: "Oh, is it broken?" He looked at me, eyes narrowed as though he were being tested and responded: "No, it needs to be wound." What followed was a very distinct and very heavy pause hanging in the air unspoken and palpable. As though God were bleeping out an expletive on television. But what should have been very audible to the trained ear was the word "idiot".

It hit me like a lightning bolt. The look, the pause, the tightened lips as though holding back this word, and the furrowed brow as though to ask: "How do you feed yourself?" And then I recalled the many, many times this has occurred in my past; the women at the end of the first date for whom I asked to see again, the DMV employee whom I asked if a library card was a sufficient form of identification, and the Genius Bar employee when I asked if I could walk in for an appointment to see someone. The myriad occasions wherein I was subject to The Silent E-diot, and like anyone learning the capricious nature of our language, didn't quite understand it's illogical complexity.

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Online Dating Profiles Translated. (Warning: Spoilers!)

I work in the floral delivery industry, or as it is known on the street: Flo-Del. It is because of this experience that I am privy to all sorts of romantic liaisons. I've noticed lately a strong uptick in the amount of online dating romances coming to fruition both in my personal and professional life. Since my dating pool at work and through my friends has dried up, my curiosity got the better of me several months ago and I signed up with a dating site to see if this was, in fact, the new way to find love and romance.
At first I put up a fairly average profile with the requisite photos of myself. Let me just pause here for a second and write that this is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. My first draft was simply a cursory overview of who I thought I was and the photos were mediocre at best because, I'm just curious. Once I received a few messages from women, it occurred to me that people were actually judging me based on the information I offered with as much thought as I would to buying socks. So I revised it. And then I revised it again. And then I revised it again. For three days, I wrote and rewrote, I paced my apartment, I looked at other profiles and I even asked a friend to proof read my profile. This was turning into more than a profile, it was turning into a Master's thesis on self-exploration.
Once I had completed what I thought was a fairly decent profile, I went on a few dates, of which I will update you in future posts. I would now like to report my findings on the first 15 dates I have had with a useful translation for the lexicon of modern online dating.
I love hiking = I like walking around.
I am just interested in meeting new people = I want to sleep around for a while.
I enjoy good food = I don't like to cook for myself.
I have a good sense of humor = I am bi-polar.
I am adventurous = I sometimes like to put stuff in your, or have you put stuff in my, rectum.
I am not looking to take care of someone = I want someone to take care of me.
I love exploring the city = you will take me out. A lot.
I work hard = I have an excuse not to commit.
I am independent = I am not looking for a commitment.
I am looking for a commitment = Don't waste my time if you're not serious about a long-term relationship.
I love having a good time = I have a substance abuse problem.
I have an inquisitive nature = I have no boundaries.
I am traditional = I am a republican.
I am non-traditional = there will probably be a third person in the bedroom at some point and I am a liberal.
Pictures of someone in a yoga position = I watch documentaries.
I love to travel = I am an escaped felon.
I don't like playing games = I am looking for someone I can manipulate.
I am new to this whole dating site thing = I've run out of viable dating options at work and through friends.
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