Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wife Rule #31: Sometimes a Woman Needs Roses

I have always struggled a little bit with buying my wife flowers. She loves flowers, and actually, so do I, so there's no lack of appreciation when I bring her some home. I blame the infrequency of my floralizations (that really should be a word) on two things, and they both relate to time.

First, it takes time to purchase flowers. There are several floral shops on my way home from work, so it's really not that out-of-the-way to make the stop. The real time-consuming struggle comes in picking out which bouquet I want to get. I can't always just go with the $2.99 Wal-mart mini-bunch, although I think my wife would prefer to have those regularly, rather than usually not having any. But price does matter.

See, there's an old family joke about my Grandma that comes into play here. She had a habit, when receiving a greeting card on any occasion, of turning it over immediately after reading it, to silently look at the price tag. She wouldn't ever comment on the price, but everybody knew that the numbers printed on the back were nearly as important as the words written inside the card. My mom and her sisters used to joke under their breaths at birthday parties:

"Sorry sisters, but I win this year: $3.95."

"Ha! Nice try, but I love her $4.25, a full thirty cents more than you!"

"Look and learn, ladies, because I've got a $4.95 ticket to Inheritance Heaven. When mom goes, the china set is mine! Bwa-ha-ha!"

This assessing-gift-value-based-on-cost gene must have trickled down into my DNA too, because I find myself standing in front of the floral display, thinking to myself: Hmmm, how much do I want to spend today? A $5 bunch just doesn't cut it, not after the steak dinner last night. That's got to be worth at least, say $1. Anything good for $6? Nope, the next jump is to $8, and those are all brown around the edges. Besides, the burrito I had for lunch today was nearly $8, and I love my wife more than a burrito, even if it was filled with sweet, savory pork. Hmm, those $14 bouquets look pretty good...

And this leads immediately into my second time-related dilemma: flowers just don't last very long, and usually spending more money doesn't lengthen the life of the bouquet. Can I really spend $14, or even $30 or more on special occasions, for a bunch of flowers that will be dead in a few days?

My wife loves the splash of color they add to the kitchen, so she usually keeps the vase on the kitchen table long after most of the flowers should have been sent to the Great Mulch Pit in the Sky. When one of them looks particularly pathetic she will usually weed it out, the result being that all flower arrangements, no matter how fancy they start out, quickly turn into identical bouquets of green filler with occasional carnation or daisy stragglers.

Of all the flowers that make it to our kitchen table, Roses tend to be the most expensive, and happen to also have the shortest lifespan. We have tried various tips and tricks, Martha-Stewart-Approved, to get them to last longer. But despite any family resemblance, Martha apparently lost her E.T.-like ability to communicate with roses while incarcerated at Camp Cupcake. I know this because, no matter how nice roses look when I bring them home and how meticulously we follow Martha's rose-perking advice, they droop suddenly and unexpectedly within two or three days. Flop, flop, flop they go. They are the Flowers of Narcolepsy. And throwing them away is depressing: $25 of spontaneous, red-hot love in the trash can, moans the voice in my head.

But still, sometimes a woman needs roses.

Why? Because they're beautiful and they smell good (I am referring to both the roses and my woman, of course). As Juliet once gushed to Romeo:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So gimme some roses right now, my love,
And prove you're not just a dorky dead-beat."

So the cultural expectation to give roses to my woman was set hundreds of years ago by none other than William Shakespeare himself, the man famous for writing sappy love stories where everyone ends up dead at the end. Hmmm....

But murders and suicides aside, roses are in. Thus, I face the High-Price-Short-Shelf-Life paradox every time I go to buy my wife flowers, as my penny-pinching, practical persona battles my suave soldier of sentimentality.

This paradox has caused me to ponder the temporary nature of so many of life's treasures. The sweet, distinct sound of a newborn baby's cry only lasts a few weeks, but how precious those cries are, and how long they ring in a mother's ears. A one-on-one weekend getaway, like a bunch of roses, only lasts a few days, but provides rejuvenating energy that lasts far longer. A sunset only lasts a few minutes, but can fill a whole night with pondering of the beauty of creation. A hug only lasts a few seconds, but warms a soul much, much longer. Every one of these temporary things adds a splash of color to our existence, and pays dividends of memory and emotion long after they are gone. They are the punctuation marks in what would otherwise be the Great Run-On Sentence of Life.

So, flowers it is. I think I'll get my wife some today. Maybe some roses.


Jenny and Al said...

How sweet! I'm sure that Brooke will love them.

Brooke said...

I do love them! Beautiful and sweet smelling, but not as sweet as my cute hubby! Love you.

Amy said...

What a beautiful sentiment. Maybe I should have Brian read this one.

Sylvia said...

A great post! Thanks for sharing it! :)