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Smell The Coffee: Chasing the love bug

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My husband and I were heading toward the checkout counter at Rite Aid, which required maneuvering through aisles lined with Valentine's cards, candies and gifts, when Geoff began muttering.

I'm accustomed to Geoff's mutterings. He frequently has this sort of low-volume running monologue going when he's in a jovial mood, which is pretty much all the time. It's like having my own play-by-play announcer of everyday events.

"And yes. It looks like the teen in the Aeropostale jersey is setting up ... Is she setting up? Yes, she is. Slipped that Hershey bar in Mom's basket like a whisper. Mom never saw it coming. Has no idea it's there."

Accustomed as I am to such mutterings, there are times I don't, you know, absorb all he's saying. In this case, he'd been talking for a while and I'd only registered "one-size-fits-all" and something about bugs.

We were getting in the car when he said, "Am I right or am I right?"

I could've taken the easy way out and agreed he was right, but the bug part had me intrigued.

"Right about what?"

"That if I bought you flowers or a box of candy for Valentine's Day, it wouldn't make you happy."

"Yes, you're right," I said.

"And you're stating the obvious," Geoff said. "It's all this Valentine nonsense. Candy. Flowers. Jewelry. What says I love you better than giving that special someone the exact same thing as everyone else?"

"I don't know," I said. "I mean, if your wife loves daisies and you get her daisies instead of roses, that's sweet."

"Daisies make a man look cheap. You said so yourself."

"Those were from a neighbor's yard."

He smiled sheepishly. Shrugged.

"They still had the roots," I said. "With dirt clumps dangling."

"In case you wanted to replant them," he said. "Cut flowers die. You say that depresses you."

"And candy depresses me because it stays with me forever," I said, looking down at my thighs.

"That's why I think I've found the perfect gift," Geoff said. "It's from the Bronx Zoo."

"What? Are they having an overstock sale?"

"Naming rights to a roach," he said. "Heard about it on NPR. For just 10 bucks, you get to name one of their Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Throw in $15 more and you get a chocolate roach and a certificate that says a roach has been named after you."

"Now that's romantic," I said. "What says 'forever' better than a cockroach?"

"Glad you feel that way," he said. "And you're still, like, all about homemade gifts, too, aren't you?"

The wry smile and faraway look in his eye made me nervous. As did the small, scritching sound of tiny legs against cardboard coming from the backseat.

I tried to get a straight answer out of him, but the low mumbling had begun anew.

"And here comes Fuller up on the right. He's getting ready to make his move. A man with a plan. Gonna show his love bug a love bug. Maybe get a little insect-ual."

"Maybe check into a roach motel," I said.

And my Valentine smiled.

Reach Karin Fuller at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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