By Bob Heafner © 1984-2012
Issue: February, 1984
It was the mid-1970’s when my comedian friend Gene from Greensboro, North Carolina, paid me a visit. He was on his way to an engagement in Bristol, Tennessee when he stopped by and went with me to run an errand to Stuart, Virginia. His plans were to drive from Meadows of Dan to Bristol that afternoon and provide after dinner humor for a group of businessmen meeting in that city.
As we were heading back to Meadows of Dan, I stopped at a flower shop in Stuart and bought my wife, Charlotte, a dozen roses. When I got back in the car, Gene was full of questions. “Why’d you buy the flowers? Is it Charlotte’s birthday?” “No,” I replied, “I just like to give her flowers occasionally to say, I Love You. She loves to get them and I enjoy surprising her occasionally because she appreciates them so much. Don’t you ever surprise Gloria with flowers?” I asked Gene about his wife.
“We’ve been married 19 years,” he answered, “and I’ve never done that.”
“Really,” I asked? Then I went on to explain that wives, like husbands, occasionally need to be reminded that they’re appreciated and flowers are a great way to say ‘I love and appreciate you.” Needless to say I put on a hard sell for the benefits of flower giving and Gene sat quietly taking it all in. By the time we arrived in Meadows of Dan, the subject was changed and forgotten, I thought. Gene headed on to Bristol to entertain his audience, after which he spent the night in Bristol and headed home early the next morning to Greensboro.
It was several months later before our paths crossed again, but when we next met, I discovered my flower giving recommendations had brought unexpected results. After considering what we had discussed, Gene had bought Gloria a dozen roses on the way home, hoping to surprise and show his appreciation for her being such a wonderful wife. Well, it didn’t work quite that way for Gene.
It seems that after 19 years, Gloria wasn’t expecting Gene to return from an overnight trip with roses for her. Why, she wondered, after all these years would Gene suddenly return a romantic? Was there a burden on his conscious after this particular trip?
Needless to say the next time I saw my humorous friend I wasn’t expecting him to greet me with such an outburst regarding my well intended advice on the merits of flower giving. First thing he said to me was:
“I ain’t ever gonna take your advice again! You wrecked my marriage. I did what you said on my way home, got a dozen roses for Gloria. She’s always been a good wife and I been a good husband but after 19 years with no flowers, she wasn’t expecting flowers. First thing she wanted to know was, what was bothering my conscience and what had I been up to that made me feel so guilty that I’d buy her flowers for the first time, after all these years.” To hear Gene tell it, 19 years of trust and faith were shattered by 12 long stem red roses and it was all my fault.
All the way to Bristol and back home, he’d thought about what I’d said, about showing your wife you love her with flowers and by the time he’d got home, he was lost in a newfound romantic mood. He wasn’t at all prepared for the suspicions such a change in his character would evoke from Gloria. Gene, being the talker he is, finally managed to convince Gloria that he was sincere and after several weeks of cautious acceptance, she finally let the matter drop. But as for taking my advice again, forget it! Gloria was happy just the way things were and he wouldn’t ever make that mistake again, so I could just keep any advice regarding his love life to myself.
Looking back, I recall another circumstance where I tried to play cupid and it didn’t work out either. Just before Charlotte and I were married, I was renting an apartment in Stuart. There was a really nice couple (I won’t mention real names) that operated a restaurant nearby. I was on my way to Greensboro one morning and had stopped by the restaurant for breakfast, Ginny was serving my breakfast and I mentioned my trip and that I planned to bring roses back for Charlotte as a surprise. “Oh,” she said, “I wish Henry would do things like that for me. He never does though.”
Well, amateur cupid that I was, when I bought Charlotte’s roses, I bought one for Henry to give to Ginny. When I got home that night, I called Henry aside, slipped him the rose and explained my conversation with Ginny that morning. I suggested that he hide the rose until they were ready to retire for the night, then present it to Ginny with an “I Love You.”
Next day bright and early, I stopped by the restaurant for breakfast as usual and first thing, Ginny thanked me for the rose. Well, it was obvious that something hadn’t gone the way I figured it would. Ginny responded to the questioning look on my face. Henry had done just as I suggested, she explained. He had carefully hidden the rose until just before bedtime. Then he presented it to her saying, “I love you. Bob told me to give you this.” They were divorced less than a year later. Last I heard, Ginny was remarried (to a fellow who knew his way around a flower shop) and living down near Asheville.
I’m sorry Henry, you too, Gene. I promise to never play cupid again. As tempting as it is, I’m not going to recommend that all men reading this rush out and buy flowers for their wives and girlfriends for Valentine’s Day. I learned my lesson and will never play cupid again. Besides, it might eliminate the crowds from the flowers shops this Valentine’s Day and I don’t like to wait in line. Do you?