FROM THE STREET (Pocket Full of Posies)

The next night, Emma and I loitered around Urban Outfitters in Ybor City like a teenage couple too broke and car-less for the usual dinner and movie routine. But, unlike a young couple sneaking kisses in the corners, we were there to work the first ever art opening at Tampa's Urban Outfitters. DJ Blenda and DJ Mugdub were on hand, scratching MP3 tracks with the aid of a laptop and two turntables. Coolers were filled with energy drinks and waters to accommodate all the marauding hipsters.

For Jay Giroux, having his art up in the store was nothing new. He's contracted by Urban Outfitters to set up their displays. His work consists of images matted to plywood, blank canvases lit by colored lights, and 2-by-4 boards coming off the walls at odd angles, like a construction site twisted by a hurricane. After seeing his art, I had no trouble picking him out from the style conscious crowd. He was the one carrying a power-drill.

Kim Coakley's work was as durable as Giroux's. Both of her pieces featured free-form collages of color climbing giant panels like plumes of smoke.

"Kids are easy," Emma told me while I photographed Kim's art. Emma had convinced a teenage boy to let her paste a Creative Loafing tattoo on his forehead. I was glad that I was no longer 17 and willing to do anything a girl asked of me. I've matured and moved on to pulling flowers out of my pocket in the hope that ladies will mistake my trickery for true romance.

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For dudes that have a dudette, Valentine's Day often means an empty wallet or a girlfriend crying about how her guy has lost his passion. The problem is rooted in grammar school. Boys grow up thinking February 14 is like a second Halloween – simply a chance to score some candy. For girls, the day teaches them to equate romance with how many cards and chocolates they got. Boyfriends and husbands can't get away with buying sweets and renting a romantic comedy, because this is what plenty of girls do when they are lonely and single – add to that a wad of Kleenexes to soak up the tears and melted ice cream.

My point is this. Sitting at home moping will only make you fat and lonelier. If you want romance, go out and find it. On Valentine's Day, the single women are so drunk off the perfumed stench of romance, that even a jackass like myself can come away looking like Don Juan.


I took my search to Push Ultra Lounge, where THX MGMT was debuting its Thursday night live music series. Lively couples and strings of singles came out to enjoy the three separate bars (one for each floor — including the roof) and to listen to Life of Pi and The Beauvilles. It was the perfect spot for women seeking a spontaneous tryst — one that would make their friends in tired relationships jealous. All a guy had to do was whip out a flower at the right moment, or in my case, a pair of tickets to David Mamet's Boston Marriage, at Tampa's Jobsite Theater.

Since couples received a reduced cover, a few of the single ladies pretended to be in relationships with each other. Being the thorough doormen that they are, the bouncers asked girls like E, a local barista, and her friend to prove that they were together. It was a win-win situation. Both single girls got a Valentine's Day kiss, and the doormen didn't feel so lonely standing out in the cold.


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