A smile by any other name…

A dozen smiles for 4 bucks In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.

-Hubert H. Humphrey

This morning I had to stop and pay the annual property tax on my motorcycle. In my county I can do this at certain retail outlets, so all 3 million of us don’t have to visit the two or three remaining open tax offices every year.

The Tom Thumb grocery store near my house provides this helpful service. No lines, no wait, and a competent employee that’s actually glad to see me makes the visit more pleasurable and distracts me from grumbling about the fact they feel the need to tax my motorcycle in the first place (used to be for road use tax, but now goes into the county and state general funds to be spent on whatever they feel like).

After writing a “heap big check” in exchange for a sticker, I noticed the store had roses on sale for $3 for a dozen.

Now, as a guy, I’m used to buying roses around the traditional holidays for such things…Valentine’s day comes to mind…when a dozen roses costs $674.37 if you’re a guy ($8 if you’re a girl), so three bucks for a dozen is like finding gasoline for a dollar a gallon. Ya buy it…even if ya don’t need it!

Feeling guilty and looking around for the inevitable clerk coming along to replace the sign with something that has more digits, I snatched up a dozen and checked out of the store.

I figured the wife would enjoy them and wouldn’t ask too many questions (like, “What the hell did you do now?”) when I gave them to her.

I had just mounted the Valkyrie and tucked the roses partially behind my windshield when I discovered the flaw in my cunning plan.

See, my wife is out of town. I’m doubtful the bunch of roses would survive the 150-mile high speed motorcycle run I was going to take soon to see her, and I’m certain that presenting her with a bunch of thorny sticks after all the leaves and petals had blown off would present just the sort of *wrong* message I take great pains to avoid.

What to do?

Ship ’em? Nah. Blackened dead roses showing up days later present a worse message than a bunch of thorny sticks.
Pack ’em in my duffle? Nah. Squashed. See previous misgivings about presenting lovely ladies with mutilated flowers.

Ah well. Three bucks worth of roses. I could just drop ’em here in the parking lot…but as one who finds stories in the things I see in the world, A dozen roses abandoned on the concrete would just seem too sad. Others would find it sad too, even if they didn’t realize it. These things are important.

Still pondering I fired up the big cruiser and headed for work.

Inspiration struck some 20 miles later as I was sitting at a stop light in downtown Dallas. Hey, give me a break…I hadn’t had any coffee yet. I count it lucky that I remembered that I *had* a dozen roses stuck in front of my face behind the windshield of my motorcycle.

A pretty, curvy young lady with impossibly long legs, thigh-high black boots, and a tight black dress entered the cross-walk. Coffee or no…THAT is something I notice! Inspiration. Yeah. Let’s call it that.

As she passed the front of my motorcycle I pulled out a single rose and handed it to her. She looked surprised but took the stem. Then she smiled, wiping away her previously stern/sad look. A pretty, shapely thing…that much prettier. A smile is a wonderful thing. She was still smiling as she walked away with her rose.

Divide by pi, carry the two…wow. I’d just made somebody’s day for a quarter…the cost of a single rose.

I knew what to do with the rest of them.

It was a good commute.

Three ladies turned me down…shaking their heads or rapidly walking away. No smiles for them…their worldview contains far too much fear.

Nine more ladies got a rose and rewarded the world with a smile.

And one burly construction worker…maybe 300 pounds of sweat and muscle…got one after I handed a rose to a young lady and he said, “Hey! Where’s mine?” The look of surprise when I got off the bike and handed him one was priceless. Got a smile from him too!

And one lady cop. She jumped out of her car to ask me what I was doing and I handed the last rose to her with a flourish. She took it on impulse I think…but she smiled too.

Three bucks. A dozen folks with something to remember. A dozen folks smiling over a no-strings-attached gift from a stranger. It was a good investment I think.

May do that more often.

Daniel Meyer

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