From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

Six Red Roses

What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.

Pearl Bailey

I still remember the day I first heard of my husband. It was Friday, June 14, 1985, but it would be a few days later before I actually saw what he looked like. Yet by September 6 that same year, we were engaged.

I’d been on my way out for lunch that fateful Friday when my supervisor called me. “Lori, there is a package for you at the front desk.”

I turned to Janine, a friend and colleague. “Uh-oh. That doesn’t sound good,” I said.

We went down to the desk and saw my “package.” It was a long narrow box, and since I’d never received flowers before, I didn’t immediately recognize it as a florist’s box. My brow scrunched in confusion, and I tore open the string. Inside were six exquisite red roses. The card was signed with an “X.”

I looked to Janine. “Is this a joke?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Not that I know of.”

Needless to say, we spent much of the remaining afternoon trying to figure out who had sent the flowers. Janine even called the florist for information. Although the lady was very helpful, she couldn’t give us any names, since the transaction had been paid in cash. The only thing she could say was, “He seemed like a very nice young man.” I rolled my eyes at that. It sounded like something my grandmother would say, and so far, her taste in men didn’t exactly correspond with mine.

Later that afternoon, my supervisor joined our discussion. “You know,” she said. “Someone was up here asking for your name the other day.”

My eyes widened. “Me? What for?”

She smiled. “Well, now I’m wondering.”

I continued to stare at her. I’m sure it was obvious this experience was totally new to me. “Well, who was he?” I asked.

“His name is Gerry. He works downstairs. I think his last name is Robidoux.”

I had never heard of him. I looked at Janine. “Do you know who he is?”

She shook her head. “Rub-a-dub? No, I never heard of him.”

“Great, I’m being stalked,” I laughed.

Within minutes, several curious girls from our office went on a “tour.” They returned with big smiles.

“So, how many horns does he have?” I asked.

They shook their heads. “He’s cute!” they squealed, almost in unison.

I made a face. “Are you sure you were looking at the right guy?”

I still couldn’t believe that someone even remotely male was sending flowers to me. The idea that he was cute, too, almost threw me into a tailspin. I was starting to think someone had made a huge mistake. Somehow, I must have walked in front of the girl he was asking my supervisor about at precisely the wrong moment, and she had given him my name by mistake.

When I brought the flowers home that night, my mother was there. “What on earth did you buy those for?” she asked as I arranged them in a vase. I shot her a look that said, “Thanks a lot, Mom.” Clearly, this experience was new for all of us.

The following Friday, my supervisor approached my desk with a huge grin on her face. “Guess who has a package downstairs again?”

I raced downstairs and came back with another florist box. Inside were six more red roses, a bottle of Oscar de la Renta perfume and another card. It read, “Have a nice day.” Again, the signature was a simple “X.”

I looked up at the crowd assembled around my desk. I was stunned, and my reaction seemed mirrored in their eyes as well. “Well, this is kinda weird,” I chuckled.

They laughed as I’d hoped they would, but I couldn’t help wondering who was sending me these things. The other day, I’d walked right past the cute “Rub-a-dub” guy, and he looked right through me as if I weren’t even there.

Right after that, I’d crossed him off my list of potentials. Now I could only wonder what kind of psychopath that left.

Later that night (yes, two dateless Fridays in a row if you’re paying attention), I was telling the story to a girlfriend of mine. “It makes me feel a little creepy because I’m doubting that it could be this ‘Rub-a-dub’ guy. In the first place, he’s too cute. In the second place, he had the perfect opportunity to talk to me the other day, and he totally ignored me. I just can’t help picturing some stalker following me around now.”

Well, as small worlds go, mine was no exception. My friend’s boyfriend worked at the same place I did, and she promised to ask him if he knew this “Rub-a-dub” character. It turns out he did. He knew him, and he asked him.

The following week, I received a phone call.

“Umm . . . hello, may I speak to Lori, please?” the voice on the phone said.

I smiled. I knew right away. “This is Lori.”

“Oh . . . well, um . . . you don’t know me, but . . . well, you know those flowers you’ve been getting? Well . . . um . . . I sent them,” he stuttered. I couldn’t help grinning to myself. It’s usually me who’s so tongue-tied.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“Oh . . . my name is Gerry Robidoux,” he said.

The cute “Rub-a-dub” guy? I couldn’t believe it. I pointed to the phone, gesturing to my mom, who was leaning over me, trying to catch every word.

“It’s Mr. X,” I mouthed.

After a few minutes of stilted conversation, we agreed to meet at a local pizza parlor. I was still skeptical, but I needn’t have worried. It was as if the fates wouldn’t allow me to be disappointed now.

We met and talked for a few hours. The whole time I couldn’t help thinking that I could really fall for this guy. He seemed so honest and sincere, and I could already tell how thoughtful and genuine he seemed. Of course, his big blue eyes weren’t too hard to look at either.

Well, as I said, a couple of short months later, we were engaged. I know to others that it seemed awfully fast, but somehow we both knew it was right. We were anxious to begin our lives together, and we were confident in our love.

That alone prepared us for the commitment that so many couples seem terrified of.

As impulsive as it seemed at the time, it’s a decision I’ve never regretted, not for one moment, and it’s made me thankful I was blessed with such great instinct. I’m thankful every time he calls me just to say hello. I’m thankful whenever he runs me a hot bath after I’ve had a stressful day at work. And I’m especially thankful every night when he wraps his arms around me as we fall asleep.

I remember something my grandma said right after I received those first roses. She sighed and said, “Oh, it’s so romantic. And it’ll be a great story to tell your grandchildren some day.”

At the time, I just rolled my eyes and told her she was jumping to conclusions. But after fourteen years of marriage, two children and countless roses, I realize she was right.

Lori J. Robidoux

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