Fourteen thousand dollars and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty-two cents of it was in pennies. That was all that Della and James had in checking and savings and their wallets combined. Sure, some more money in 401(k)s and CDs, but they couldn’t draw on those without some penalties. James knew the exact amount because he checked the state of their account on the Bank of America website this February morning. Fourteen thousand dollars and eighty-seven cents…and some investments. And that night was Valentine’s night.
James logged off the website, spiked his hair up just a little with some product, and went to work. Only ten hours to get his lovely bride a Valentine’s gift before he was to meet her at a local French place called Le Jardin d’Olive.
Later that morning, in his cube, he was busy at work with some financial analysis. Then, that afternoon, when he got back from Baja Fresh with Veronica and “Doobs,” he was reminded about the fact that that day was Valentine’s because Lily was wearing her heart-shaped teddy bear brooch thing and playfully haranguing everyone: “Now, where’s your red? You’re supposed to wear red on Valentine’s!” Which instigates the observation that some of the co-workers who even bothered to respond would say something humorous like, “I have a red stripe on my sock! That counts, right?” But the remainder replied with a “I don’t know, Lily. Just…Okay?” or a “Uh. Did you see if Cynthia’s at her desk?”
Only five hours until he was to meet his beloved for St. Valentine’s Day dinner. What would he get her for a gift? He couldn’t afford to get her a house or a beach. What would he get her? And in only five hours to do so.
In the restroom, where he brushed his teeth after lunch, James looked in the very wide mirror and re-textured his hair.
Della’s favorite flowers were white roses. It’s what she had ordered for her and James’s wedding two years ago. Also, whenever her and James went to Whole Foods to get his workout supplements and passed by white roses or if she caught a glimpse of them at the Farmer’s Market on their way to the 7:45 showing of a movie they both thought they’d maybe like okay, she’d say, “Jesus. Those are so gorgeous! They’re the only flowers I really really love.” Over the course of their relationship, she’s probably said that about 84 times, about the white roses, liking them, etc.
At 5:30, James realized he had only one and one half of an hour to get Della, his lovely wife, a Valentine’s gift before meeting her at the restaurant.
James eyes lit with an idea. He would have just enough time to get a haircut.
However, coming out of the salon, James was pale with despair. He didn’t like his new haircut as much as last time. Carlos wanted to “try something new.” Also, now James had almost no time to purchase Della a gift on this day of love!
At the flower shop on the way to the restaurant, James scanned the inventory. Tulips; gerber daisies; and yellow, white, and red roses. They were pretty expensive but James picked a few red roses from what was left and stood in line. He also noticed one of those metallic balloons that said, “Be Mine!” He thought Della would probably like it but it would be kind of a pain to carry.
As he sat down across from his wife, whose bosom was wonderfully kind of squeezed together by, presumably, her bra, James smiled and handed her the red roses. She kind of sighed, realizing once again that James didn’t remember — or, more likely, didn’t care — that it’s white roses she loves so. But then she did what she could to make the best of the situation: “Thank you so much, darling! They’re lovely!”
“I got you something too, dear,” she continued. She pulled out a beautifully wrapped present and handed it to him, which took a very slightly longer amount of time than one might expect as he had to finish glancing over at an evil-looking brunette by the bar.
“Okay,” he said as he tore into the package. It was a grooming kit, the beautiful leather case emblazoned with his initials. He’d always wanted one and Della got it for him even though he probably only mentioned it once.
“Well, okay,” he responded. “I guess I can use this stuff. I might wait until my hair grows in a little bit. I just got it cut as you can see and it’s a little too short.”
“Well, not that it doesn’t look great now, but it’ll probably be a good length in about a week,” she said.
“Okay. I guess I can hang on to this until then,” he sighed. Then he looked lovingly at the brunette again. “Oh. Here comes the waiter. By the way, I don’t want to take so long eating dinner like last time. I’m going to the gym early in the morning,” he informed her in a way that was romantic because he wasn’t outright screaming at her.
“Oh. Yes. Okay,” said Della as she quickly looked at her menu in this restaurant she used to love coming to so much with James.
The magi, as you know, were wise men — wonderfully wise men — who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. But Jesus was not the Son of God as such a thing does not exist. In this way too, Della, gave and gave to a love that wasn’t there. But she thought she might not find anyone else, so she stuck with this. She was the magi.
Love in its physical manifestation
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