AMONG the many reasons I don’t last in a relationship beyond three months is that I don’t give flowers to my girlfriends during Valentine’s Day. I can’t understand how flowers mean the world to girls on this very special occasion.

One Valentine’s Day years ago, I tried giving flowers for the first time to a girlfriend. I sneaked inside her room while she was out, placed the flowers on her table and hid behind the door to observe her reaction once she’d seen the deepest expression of my affection. My plan was to spring up from behind and kiss her while she’s smelling the flowers, just like in the movies.

Just when I was about to sweat profusely from all that hiding, she entered the room and froze! She stared aghast at the bouquet of roses on her table like they were some vegetables from the Department of Agriculture. Right that very moment, I knew something was very wrong.

She exclaimed: “What the f__k! Sto. Rosario???” I froze too. “What’s wrong with flowers bought at the Sto. Rosario sidewalk?” I told myself. I was tempted to shout, “Hey, those flowers are blessed!”

If you are not familiar with a Sto. Rosario bouquet, it is roses encased in that film-like material your parents attached to their black-and-white television set to protect your eyes from the direct glare of the screen back in the ‘70s. And there’s Scotch tape and staple wire all over to symbolize the bond between the flower giver and the flower receiver. This elaborate arrangement of roses, ferns and adhesive cost a whopping P65.

Knowing the situation to be irredeemable, I shifted to plan B: I shrank back and crawled my way out of my girlfriend’s room, while she opened her computer presumably to google the subject “Why Boyfriends Are Such Jerks on Valentine’s Day.”

Last Saturday, Valentine’s Day 2009, I vowed not to commit the same mistake with my present girlfriend. I couldn’t concentrate on my work from excitement. It was all flowers in my mind while I was doing headlines. “US Congress Approves Obama’s Pink Mums.” “15 Dead, 161 Hurt When Orchids Derail.” “Belmonte Denies Aspiring For Tulips in 2010 Polls.”

After work, I took a cab to that area near the BIR building where all these flower shops are located. Inside one of these shops I told the flower arranger, “White lilies, please, and a supporting cast of carnations and dancing ladies, and any cute, green ornamental plant except ferns. And please wrap it in abaca sinamay, not that film-like material your parents attached to their black-and-white television set to protect your eyes from the direct glare of the screen back in the ‘70s.”

A few minutes and the flower arranger handed me my bouquet. The bouquet’s size was something I hadn’t anticipated. It was so huge I had to hug-carry it like it was a five-year-old baby. I couldn’t find a taxi and I was running late. So I ignored the drizzle and walked the distance from the flower shop to the mall.

This proved to be a bad idea. The area teemed with istambays whose idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day was taunting men who were obviously in a hurry to see their dates. “Siyaro’g di pa ka sugton ana bay!” they hooted. Sometimes, I caught myself burying my face in the flowers I was carrying.

I arrived at our rendezvous drenched and beaten-up from the experience, again just like in the movies. But it must be the rain or Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” on the loudspeakers that the date turned out to be just perfectly right.

Or it must be the flowers.

( SUN.STAR, FEB. 17, 2010 )