J.P. stared at his list.
It’s not as if he’d never been in a grocery store before.
Just not… recently.
He felt overwhelmed, but determined.
10 minutes later…
Now he felt overwhelmed only.
As he stood staring at two virtually identical onions, a little old Italian lady strolled up beside him.
“Having some problems?” She inquired.
“Yes, ma’am. If the Titanic had been a trip to the grocery store, it would have been this one.”
“Let me see your list.”
J.P. handed it to her.
She looked at the list. Then she looked at the few items he had collected in his basket.
“Uhm, this recipe calls for fennel.”
“And you picked up a FUNNEL cake,” she said as she held it up in front of him.
“Don’t fret. I’ll take care of you.”
J.P. smiled and gave her a big kiss on the forehead. She laughed and pretended to try to push him away.
Another ten minutes later…
J.P. came out of the front door of the grocery store with a bag in each hand and a big smile. He jumped up and did that kick out your feet and hit them together off to the side thing. And then he landed…
“Ow. OW! Gotta stretch first. Pulled my groin. Pulled my groin.”
He limped off down the street.
A street musician worked a small crowd next to a fountain in the park. His acoustic version of the Gin Blossoms’ classic “Hey Jealousy” was impressing all who listened.
J.P. made his way up to the group. He waited until the song ended and the musician was taking a break before approaching him.
“Hey, you don’t know me, but I want to hire you for an hour tonight,” J.P blurted out.
“I think you want the other end of the park, my man. Starting after dark…”
“No, I want you to play guitar and sing. My girlfriend and I saw you on our first date. And I am planning a special evening for her.”
“Are you in the dog house?”
“I’m sitting outside of the doghouse… in the rain,” J.P. replied.
“Did you give me cash?” Musician Guy asked.
“That first night, did you give me cash?”
“Oh, yeah. I was trying to impress her and gave you a twenty.” J.P. admitted.
“Okay, I’m in. But, it is going to cost you three hundred bucks.”
“What?” J.P. asked incredulously.
“Listen, I am going to have to buy a gift for MY girlfriend. I am supposed to go to a housewarming for a friend of hers and –“
“Say no more,” J.P. replied. “Three hundred it is.”
J.P. walked out of an antique shop. He took another peek inside a box that he was carrying. He smiled broadly.
J.P. walked into a flower shop.
A pretty blonde(ish) woman smiled from behind the counter.
“Hi, I’m Cindy. How can I help you today?”
“Hi, Cindy. I’m J.P. and I need a LOT of help today.”
He then gave her the entire story.
“Wow,” she said. “She must be amazing.”
“She’s great. And I haven’t been, you know?”
“So you need the perfect flower?”
“Exactly! She mentioned her all-time favorite flower six months ago or so. But, I am having a hard time remembering what it is.”
“Do you know what family it belongs to?” Cindy asked.
“I know that the type of flower is a common kind.”
“Okay. Let’s go through them. Rose… carnation… daisy… iris… tulip… lily–“
“Yes! It’s a lily” J.P. yelled out.
“Okay, that narrows it down. Do you remember anything at all about what kind?”
“I think it had a longish name… glory… something…”
“A gloriosa lily?”
“Yes! That’s the one.” J.P. said excitedly, as he gave Cindy a hug. “Oh, sorry.”
“That’s okay. I do have some, but they aren’t cheap.”
“That seems like the theme for the day. Can I get a couple dozen?” J.P. asked.
“Let me see,” Cindy replied as she checked her computer. “Shoot. I don’t have enough here, but I can get some from our other store.”
“Can I get them delivered by seven o’clock tonight?”
“Sure. Should be no problem.
“Excellent! You rock, Cindy!”
J.P. wrote the restaurant address on a piece of paper and headed for the door.
J.P. exited the restaurant, after dropping off the bags of groceries.
“Man, she can talk.”
J.P. stood in front of his bathroom mirror, wrapped in a towel. He had just finished showering and was now shaving… and singing.
“You were working as a waitress
In a cocktail bar,
When I met you.
I picked you out,
I shook you up,
And turned you around.
Turned you into someone new.”
He wiped his face off and went to his bedroom.
He put on his best suit. And, of course, the tie that Kylie picked out for him and loved.
He stood in front of the mirror. He surveyed what he saw before him. He wasn’t totally displeased. He gave himself a single eyebrow raise and left the bathroom.
He grabbed a gift-wrapped box and headed for the door.
When J.P. arrived at the restaurant, everything looked perfect. Pedro had dimmed the lights and put candles all around. Rachel Ray had the table set beautifully.
Musician Guy walked up behind him.
“Looks beautiful, dude. I’m officially on the clock, so I’m going to start playing.”
“Sounds good. Thanks,” J.P. said, his nerves starting to kick in.
Rachel Ray stuck her head out of the kitchen and gave him a thumbs-up. J.P. managed a weak smile back.
He didn’t have much time to be nervous, as Kylie walked in moments later. She looked confused, but quickly spotted J.P.
“Hey, I got your message. It was very cryptic. What’s all this, J.P.?”
“Hi, sweetie. Please, have a seat.”
“Okay,” she looked around, still confused.
“I know that I haven’t been the perfect boyfriend. Sometimes maybe I haven’t even been a good boyfriend. But, it’s not because I don’t love you. I do. I really do.”
“Oh, J.P. …”
“Just give me a minute to get this out, please.”
“I’ve sucked. I admit it. But, I am vowing to you. Right here. Right now. I am going to be the world’s best boyfriend. You deserve it. And while I may not deserve you, I am going to do everything I can to show you that I so very much appreciate you. And on that note…”
J.P. pulled the gift-wrapped box from under the table and passed it to her. Musician Guy started playing softly.
“You shouldn’t have…”
“Please… just open it.”
Kylie removed the wrapping paper and slowly opened the box. She stopped when she saw what it was. Her eyes filled with tears.
“I remember when we first started dating,” J.P. began. “You told me the story about your grandma having that antique broach. How it was the only thing she brought with her here to this country. How it meant the world to her. You smiled so much when you talked about her letting you wear it as a child and how she was going to leave it to y
Tears rolled down Kylie’s face.
“I remember seeing the heartbreak in your eyes when you talked about how your grandma didn’t have a will and how your aunt had claimed the broach for herself. What you didn’t know is that she sold it a few months later. The woman that bought it from her ran into financial problems or her own and was forced to sell it too. It’s almost as though the broach knew it wasn’t with the right person. So, I did a little research and brought it back to you. Where it belongs.”
Kylie took the broach out of the box and just stared at it. She was in complete shock. She began sobbing.
J.P. stood up and walked over to her.
“Do you like it?”
She hugged him hard around the waist.
“Is that a yes?”
“Yes…” she managed to get out between sobs.
J.P. gave her a kiss on the noggin and then returned to his seat. He could not have been happier.
Taking this as her cue, Rachel Ray came out with two beautiful plates full of food and sat them on the table. She smiled at Kylie, winked at J.P. and then returned to the kitchen.
“Was that Rachel Ray?” Kylie asked between sobs and blowing her nose on a napkin.
“Yup,” J.P. replied.
“Wow. You went all out.”
“You deserve it, Kylie.”
“And do you recognize that guy?” J.P. asked, pointing to Musician Guy, who winked at Kylie as he continued playing.
“Oh my God… From our first date?”
“I can’t believe that you did all of this.”
“I kind of wish that you hadn’t, J.P.”
“I don’t understand…”
Kylie reached across the table and took J.P. by the hand.
“This is sooo hard…”
“Then don’t do it,” J.P. replied softly.
“I met someone else. At work. It’s just… easier, you know?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“I love you, J.P., but it’s just too much. I can’t handle the ups and downs. I’m sorry.”
Kylie stood up, put the broach back on the table and turned to leave. J.P. stood up too.
She turned back, crying again.
J.P. passed her the broach.
He went back to his chair. He didn’t watch her leave.
Musician Guy started playing Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone.”
J.P. looked around at the room. He knew that he gave it a good try at least.
The restaurant door swung open and Cindy came running in with the flowers.
“I hope I made it in time.”
“Not quite,” J.P. replied.
“I’m SO sorry.”
“You don’t have to be,” J.P. said. “Flowers weren’t going to tip the scale.”
“Hey, is that Rosemary-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Fennel and Red Onion?”
“That it is,” J.P. answered.
Cindy looked around at the entire scene.
“It would have worked on me,” she said with an impossibly warm smile.