Monday, February 17, 2014


Caption: Love Thermometer and ring box

(Last Monday's Tobago Peeps article)

It is 7:15 a.m. I am in Scarborough early, to get easy parking uptown. While waiting for the cloth store to open, I bide time by walking around.

Passing near to the Methodist church, I put my hand out to graze along the top of an orange bougainvillea hedge. A loose clump of about five flowered stems comes off in my hand. Holding the small bunch, I walk back down to the square to wait in front of the cloth store.

Ahead of me, at the corner, a car stops and an older man gets out from the back. As I approach, he sees the orange flowers in my hand, laughs and says: "You selling flowers or wha'?"

I stop, pick two from the bunch and give to him.

"For me?" he says, surprised. "Sharing! That's nice. The world needs more sharing."

I agree and wish him a good day.

"You have a good day too."

Glancing back, I see him waiting to cross the road to the bank, holding his orange bougainvillea flowers.

Later ... It is now 3:30 p.m. and I am in Bon Accord, across the road from Stumpy's Hardware, sitting on a stool under a tent, surrounded by Valentine's Day paraphernalia. Out of curiosity, I have come to chat with Bev, the woman who has set up this Valentine's table for the second consecutive year.

No one is here but us. I ask: "Do lots of people come to buy?"

"Tobago people laid back," Bev explains with a slight American accent. She has lived in the States for many years. "They will come and watch first and wouldn't buy yet ... but you wouldn't like to see here on the day! Dem man an' dem who ent get nothing yet, dey scrambling!"

Bev is an excellent saleswoman. I end up buying four small $5 bags of little beads called Bio Gel" ... " or Water Babies as they call them here," Bev informs. The coloured beads swell into translucent marble-sized balls when soaked for a few hours in water.

Bev shows me the "hit item" known as the "Love Thermometer", which I hold in my hand to test. "Ooooooh, girl! You gotta lotta Love!" Bev exclaims as the red liquid rapidly rises, filling the heart above.

She gives me a tour of the vast array of Love gizmos, amazingly priced from $5 minimum to $100 maximum because "I give you nice at a pocket price": straw Love-hamper baskets filled with romantic trinkets, hanging hearts, stuffed teddies, large gift bags covered with hearts, ring boxes ("For that person who may want to propose on the day itself"), a red rose that's actually a thong, a rose that lights up and says "I love you" when pressed, a teddy bear that does the same ... and (Bev shows me a small plastic rose bud in clear wrapping): "Two of these roses for $5, because it's the thought that counts."

Anyone seeking Valentine's gifts like these would definitely strike a treasure trove at "Bev's Everything".

The wind flutters red tinsel hearts hanging from the edges of the sales tent. Cars crawl by. Pedestrians amble along the sidewalk, not really glancing our way. I wish someone would stop to buy something while I'm here. I'm curious to see which item(s) they would choose. But, hardly likely this will happen now, judging from the fact that "dem man an dem" scramble on "the day itself." But why wait until February 14th?

Every day is "the day itself" ... and doesn't have to cost a thing.

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