Part 3 of 3, Back Inside the Box (see Part 1 and Part 2 here)
insult to injury, my second gift was a wall mount bracket, neither chocolates nor lingerie. I had made many errors in judgement, and one was classic - buying for yourself, not the recipient. There was no avoiding the obvious - this gift was strictly a GUY THING. Nothing more, nothing less. Which woman really wants electronic hardware for Valentine's Day? What the hell was I thinking?
Worse, I even had written stories which she had read and we had discussed, one that very morning, demonstrating my insights regarding gift giving to women on this special day and that a smart man should be thinking inside, not outside, the box, with flowers, chocolates, etc.
I endeavored to install the TV half-heartedly. I was getting very poor quality from an analog box. A call to a Verizon tech was not encouraging - he actually recommended keeping the old TV, something he had done himself. A digital box would be large on a small kitchen table, and the TV was already oversized for the area. I was disgusted with the whole situation. I would leave it a few days, but on my next visit, I would likely pack it up. The TV was going back.
On my next visit to her home, I reflected on my foolishness, i.e. thinking outside the box on Valentine's Day. As I approached the Ariemma Garden Center, it occurred to me that stopping would be an opportunity to investigate their flowers, and, if they appeared to be of reasonable quality, perhaps I would pick up a bouquet of roses as a belated gift. Better late than never.
I met the owner's son, Mike Ariemma, who informed me that his father had been in business for over 30 years. I discussed his rose quality openly. He assured me that these were fresh cut within days, flown directly from Ecuador. I learned that over the years there has been a tremendous shift and that Colombia and Ecuador now accounted for roughly 90% of all roses sold to the United States.
Mike did not sell his product at all. He encouraged me to peer into his cooler, where I found bouquets of roses. The quality spoke for itself - the flowers looked great, the buds were tight. This place had all the earmarks of the classic, no frills, no nonsense, New York City business where the focus was strictly on service or the product. A place where Content is King and the savvy shopper can have quality and price. Mike assured me that red roses of identical quality and source could sell in Manhattan for $30 - $40, where the Sirens of Convenience can often propel pricing of products to stratospheric levels. So, for $9.99, I was armed with a dozen red roses.
I arrived at my girlfriend's home. My belated gift came as a surprise and was heartily received. I discussed my adventure with the Ariemma family, choosing to reveal my source, regardless of the fact that she would know the price. Actually, her appreciation was not diminished by the $9.99 economy pricing - she praised me for a good purchase.
Remarkably, the flowers held up well, corroborating Mike's claim as to their freshness. The top photo shows nine of the remaining roses over one week later. I made a subsequent visit to Ariemma's to thank Mike, tell him of my blog and story idea, and to get a few more photos.
I learned a useful lesson, particularly that thinking outside the box can be a Big, Big Mistake. But all's well that ends well, particularly when a TV and Valentine's Day gift thinking are both safely Back Inside the Box …