1. The Flower Man Cometh
Summers in the city mean patio dinners in the evenings; the sultry air, the cool breezes, the relaxed conversations – the city, for once, forgetting to take itself so seriously. A good time to catch up; reconnect with old friends, meet new ones.
Eat & drink. Be merry. Etc.
Then there are those who don’t (or can’t?) get into the swing of things. Those who fail to keep the hard-earned peace. Those who seem determined to spoil it, everything, for everyone.
Know who I mean?
His stories were boring, which would have been fine if not for his demeanour: the way he demanded attention, adoration, even, for this startling mediocrity. The way he was convinced (and tried to convince) that he deserved it. The way he interrupted if not speaking, or spoken to.
You know who I mean.
We all saw the Flower Man from across the empty street, one from a fleet of flower peddlers who roam the city’s summer’s night, flitting from patio to patio, selling puckered roses. Pressuring people to buy them or, lo, forsake love – reject it completely as a concept, never mind a possibility, forever. A hard bargain.
No one really ever wants a flower from the Flower Man.
But it was he who called him to our table, waving empathetically like a drunken sailor come off from the docks: a desperate fool. A fucking cliché.
Only $5 a rose? He bought one for his girlfriend, pulling out the sweaty bill from his front pants pocket which such flourish I wondered if he even noticed (or cared) that the flower was already wilted, already halfway dead.
Rose installed in his girlfriend’s waiting hand, he turned to us expectantly. The Flower Man turned to us, expectantly.
Follow the leader.
The people around us looked away, some cringing, knowing that they would surely be next. The Flower Man can be most persistent, and unforgiving. Who counts as a couple and who does not? The Flower Man decides, apparently. He alone knows love’s bounds. The roses have no say in it whatsoever, poor things.
“Pretty flower for a pretty lady?” The Flower Man asked my partner.
“We’re not together,” I said, gesturing to myself and Stephen.
“We’re not together.” Three small words that did just the trick, banishing the Flower Man from our table.
Do you believe it magic? Because those words spread like wildfire – engulfing the patio, cleansing the night.
“We’re not together.”
Every table with a purported couple, each having one speak for the other:
“We’re not together.”
No more roses sold that day. Not at our patio, at least. Whatever became of them it at least wasn’t that.
2. Punchline Botanical
Flowers are a joke, aren’t they?
You buy a bouquet of flowers. You put them in a vase. You watch them die. They die sl-o-o-owly.
I bought some the other day on a whim (as a joke for Stephen) and we giddily put them in a used pickle egg jar, installed them in the corner of the living room, and forgot about them.
What else is there?
Except. Now, I catch myself, looking at the flowers and thinking…nothing in particular. I realize this is because I have nothing to add. Nothing whatsoever. They are dying, and doing it slowly, but that seems so far away from the present moment – and they are more than pretty; they are lovely in their resilience, their pomp and glamour – that what does it even matter that that’s the truth?
It’s not a lie, or a denial, the fact of the flowers. Their presence is irrefutable.
What sorcery is this?
(2.5 How Does Your Garden Grow?)
(I planted a garden this year, out back behind the house. I figured just a plant or two. I was convinced I would grow bored and abandon them before summer’s end. They’re plants, after all. Easily replaced by more of the same. Or not. Who cares?
And yet. I spend hours at a time out there. In the garden. Tending to the plants (so many plants), fulfilling their needs. Basically, making sure they are OK – and more than that, thriving – and no matter what havoc the sun is wreaking on my skin; no matter how my already tender back hurts. No matter the rain or the shine.
They have a power over me I can’t yet explain, or account for. Something that brings me out there with purpose, if not a real sense of time going.
And it does not matter that they, the plants, do not care one whit about me, and never will.
3. Flower. Power.
Dr. Ellie Sattler saved the day (T Rex notwithstanding). She did what needed doing, and she did it well.
It does not seem all that obvious at first, does it? Salvation from a paleobotanist (more plants, dead plants and long dead plants at that), especially when there are dinosaurs around, some of them bloodthirsty. A few, perhaps, out for revenge.
But that’s what happens when you underestimate power & presence. When you misjudge, devalue, miscalculate.
“Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.”
Stop. Smell the roses.
(But mind the puckered ones).