I was walking by the florist in Taipan USJ with Jeannie, to the now known as restaurant (in those days [I am beginning to sound like a relic] they were known as “coffee shops”) around the corner, when we noticed a big crowd of people there. Waiting to buy flowers? Not hibiscus, daffodils or dandelions. Roses!
It is only Monday, February 13th today. Malaysians for years have tried and maybe to some extent, beat the system. They are buying roses today when prices are reasonable. Buy before Valentine’s Day (February 14th, for those uninformed), when the price of roses could go up by 1000% or more.
But florists have become smarter. They raise the prices by 200%, 300% or more, stating that this is due to the shortage of roses available. Those buying the roses won’t really mind the “slight” price increase. It will still be much cheaper than buying them on February 14th itself.
“What cheapskates!” you may say. Your true love will buy these roses on Valentine’s Day. Money is no object, even if it means “makan bubur” (1) for the next month or so.
Getting a dozen roses, the buds at the right stage of opening, not too closed up or not too open; surrounded by some that are fully opened and some leaves (forget what they are called) for decoration and presentation. The specially one-of-a-kind prepared bouquet (probably ten thousand others will have the same type of bouquet) is not enough these days. It has to be accompanied by exquisite chocolate.
Those with credit cards will get the best credit card deals to finest dining at michellin, dunlop, goodyear or pirelli rated restaurants. They may come out with slogans for the cardholders like:
“It is not as though you are paying”. Well, yes, it is; when you get that credit card statement for payment!
“Show your love to the one you care”.
“Take up this package of a 5-day all expenses paid for two – wining, dining, a romantic cruise. The best part is it is 35% off the list price. We’ll thrown in a red heart-shape cushion with the names of you and your loved one on it for frrreeee! (Come on guys, by now; you should know the cost, over-inflated by x number of times; is included in the overall price that you are paying). “”What’s more?”” you may ask. You can pay over a 12 month installment plan with a 0% interest rate on the first month”.
Not to forget stiff competition amongst the kiasu (2) and the kiasi (3).
You hire a stretched limousine with driver to impress your wife, if you are married or your “she’s the one” if you are not married yet. Then, to go over the top; you present your mother-in-law with a gift voucher to use at a very expensive day-long spa. For your father-in-law: a bottle of single-malt 24 year (has to coincide with the lunar year of the Rabbit) whiskey. If he doesn’t drink; he will start now; he won’t want to miss out from this helluva expensive whiskey. By the way, these gifts also apply to the “she’s the one” ‘s parents; too.
At the end of it, they guy (yes, the displayer of love) may not even be able to afford to “makan bubur” as well. He may just have to settle for scraps of food for a very long time.
All this just for one day: Valentine’s Day. All this to impress the lady, and not forgetting; others who are looking: the kiasu and kiasi. The lady is happy, her parents are happy. Most of all; the establishments that receive payments for what seems as an extravagant day; are happy.
Woe to the guy if his lady demands this expensive show of affection everyday.
Is this really an expression of love (first time this word is appearing in this article)? Is love only for one day of the year? Going financially broke may not really display this thing called “LOVE” from either the recipient, nor the giver.
How Valentine’s Day may all have started:
The name Valentine comes from a Latin word meaning “strength.” There are many legends about it, but it’s ultimately unclear how Valentine’s Day became associated with the tradition of exchanging the affectionate gifts and love notes that we call valentines. (4)
When Claudius found out, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. Legend has it that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was taken to be killed on 14 February he sent her a love letter signed “from your Valentine”. (5)
Love and affection for the lady, spouse, children, parents…should be everyday, 24×7. With it comes joys, happiness, excitement, fun, bumpy patches, potholes and rough roads along this lifelong journey. Enjoy the ride.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
P.S.: For those people who have received chocolate but aren’t really into it; I can help you. You can give it to me. I love chocolate.
I had fun writing this essay with lots of chuckles and smiles as I went along, thinking it up.
1. “Makan bubur” is Malay for eat porridge. This phrase is used to mean that you don’t have money for a good meal, that eating porridge is all you can afford.
2. Kiasu is a Hokkien (Chinese dialect) word that comes from ‘kia’, which means afraid, and ‘su’, which means to lose: fear of losing out. bbc.co.uk
3. Kiasi is commonly compared to Kiasu (literally: “fear of losing”); both are commonly used to describe attitudes where Kiasi or Kiasi-ism means to take extreme measures to avoid risk and Kiasu or Kiasu-ism means to take extreme means to achieve success. wikipedia