The Ides of February, Part I

Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. There’s a lot of people here in New York City. Many of them are strangers, and many of them have different takes on this holiday. There are those who love it and there are those who love to hate it. Others think it’s a conspiracy between Hallmark and Disney to hijack our concept of love, and some people are simply busting their asses to to make sure your day is extra special, or at least to make sure that you don’t suddenly become single on Valentine’s Day.

I’m hoping to find several types of people over the next few days. First I bring you Betty Zafiros, the owner of Fort Washington Florist, which has been in the Zafiros family for over 95 years. When I interviewed Betty, she was up to her neck in red roses and not much else. I mean, come on people. Have a little mercy. Order some zinnias or something to break the monotony of thorns and red that your poor florist has to go through every year.

Betty would never utter a word against the red rose (or any flower, for that matter), but one of her personal favorite is the orchid.

At any rate, I have bumped into Betty already on a few different occasions, and she let me interview her despite the fact that she was busily yanking petals off red roses so they could achieve that slender, coy look that so many desire.

Meet Betty Zafiros, florist.

Meet Betty Zafiros, florist.

 What are your Valentine’s Day Plans?

My Valentine’s Day plans are that I’m not going home. We’ll be here a full 48 hours trying to make everything beautiful for the beautiful people receiving these flowers and gifts.

What is your ideal Valentine’s Day? If you could engineer the perfect Valentine’s Day, what would it be like?

Very simple: very, very busy, pleasing thousands of people, beautiful weather, and happy Valentines. That’s my perfect Valentine’s Day. Very hard to achieve.

How many customers do you predict you have by Valentine’s Day?

Well, the weather is pretty bad. I can’t give you a precise count. Most people are the same day, last minute, the day before—I do have a box of orders, but Valentine’s is a last minute thing. People always forget until the end.  And this year the weather’s lousy.

What is the most elaborate, strange or creative Valentine’s Day order you’ve had?

Very simple: 500 red roses in a humongous arrangement.

For one person?

For one person. We needed two people to carry it. It was going to an apartment in the Bronx.

Whoa. Do you know anything about this couple’s story? Was he proposing to her on Valentine’s Day or something?

No. Just in love with her.

Fort Washington Florist has received numerous accolades from customers. Betty pulls colors together as masterfully as Monet, and in the blink of an eye can whip together a bouquet worthy of Van Gogh still life. If you want to order a bouquet for someone you love–or yourself, call 212 795 2978, visit Fort Washington Florist, or go the storefront at 4257 Broadway and meet Betty yourself. 

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1 Comment

Filed under interview

One response to “The Ides of February, Part I

  1. Chris Kilmer

    Again Robin, you compel the reader!!! You craft these stories so well that we shuck our emotional blinders but we don’t realize it. You keep us on the knife edge of the reality and sunshine. What a delight. Just saw Beanie; we were kidnapped by aliens in flying saucers down in Jacumba, CA. DAD

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