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Nostalgia February 2014

A Valentine’s Day Adventure

By Sy Rosen

She looked happy and thanked me but also seemed a little bewildered. I explained that this was the watch she wanted 15 years ago at Manteo’s Jewelry Store. She explained that the watch was beautiful but it was Santelli’s Jewelry Store and what she wanted back then was earrings.

Years and years and years ago (I figure I’m old enough to have an extra “years”) Valentine’s Day meant giving my wife a special gift to show my love and add to the romance of the day. Now I give her candy or flowers to basically stay out of trouble. By the way, I’ve learned through experience that you should never give your wife a blender for Valentine’s Day --even if it has 5 speeds.

I decided that this year there had to be some way to turn back the clock and bring the romance back to the holiday and our marriage. I remembered about 15 years ago there was an antique watch with a white gold band that my wife absolutely loved. However, it was $400 – too much for us at the time. Now, I thought, if I could find that watch I could recapture how we felt back then. And so my quest began.

I remembered the name of the place was Manteo’s Antique Jewelry and I was pretty sure I knew where it was. However, when I got there it was replaced by one of those slightly seedy stores with a hand-painted sign above the door: Psychic Palm Reading.

I was greeted by Madam Rosario, a lady in her early 40s with a large red scarf draped around her large pale neck. She explained that Manteo’s moved years ago and she was certain they were now near Hollywood in the Los Feliz area.

Since Madam Rosario was a psychic, I figured she would know. However, she also said that I would marry soon and that I was a good Christian man. Being Jewish and already married I started to doubt her psychic abilities. When she told me I was going to lose 20 pounds I knew she was a fraud and decided to look up Manteo’s in the yellow pages.

There was a Manteo’s downtown right near the bakery district. As I drove to the store I was engulfed by the smells of bread and pastries. I finally found the jewelry store and met the Manteos, an elderly plump couple who had been married so long they had started looking alike. Actually they looked like two apple dumplings (okay, the smell from the bakery was still on my mind).

I explained about my quest and Mr. Manteo brought me to the back of the store where he laid a watch with a white gold band in front of me. It was exactly as I remembered. Mr. Manteo said it cost $600. This watch was a magical glowing symbol of romance and there was only one thing I could say: “I’ll give you $400.”

“$500” Mr. Manteo countered.

“But the last time I was here it only cost $400,” I countered back.

That was a long time ago. And can you really put a price on love?” Mr. Manteo asked.

“$450,” I answered.

We shook hands and I wrote a check. Before I went home I went into the bakery next door and bought two apple dumplings.

That evening I couldn’t wait and even though Valentine’s Day was one week away, I gave my wife the watch. She looked happy and thanked me but also seemed a little bewildered. I explained that this was the watch she wanted 15 years ago at Manteo’s Jewelry Store. She explained that the watch was beautiful but it was Santelli’s Jewelry Store and what she wanted back then was earrings.

“Huh,” I said, feeling like a complete dolt.

My wife than asked what that smell was and I told her apple dumplings.

“We haven’t had apple dumplings in 15 years!” she exclaimed. As we gobbled them up we started talking about our life 15 years ago. The years drifted away and we recaptured how we felt back then. It was a glorious evening.

You never know where or how love will be rekindled. For my wife and me it wasn’t expensive jewelry but rather an apple dumpling. That night as my wife slept I watched her. She looked beautiful and content and I kept thinking that maybe I could return the watch and get a full refund.

 

Sy has written for The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, MASH, Maude, The Wonder Years, and Frasier. He has been married for forty-one years which is great because they say the first forty are the toughest.

 

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