Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Flowers

No, he can't take them on the subway. Not at this time of day. He'll just have to walk - twenty five blocks in the mid-February cold - but it's worth it, if only to keep the flowers from getting crushed.

As he leaves the florist's he is aware of being noticed. It's the flowers, of course. Roses. Two dozen. Each one as delicate as a wineglass, as plush as a mouth. For a moment he is embarrassed by the vulgarity of the gesture, but he reminds himself that it's Valentine's Day, this kind of thing is expected, he's not doing anything wrong.

Walking down the street, he tries to read the faces that turn to him. Envy, longing, amusement, scorn - emotions that pass like windows - opaque expressions in which he sees only his own reflection, and not the people watching from the other side.

What do they see, these strangers? A man in his mid-thirties clutching an enormous bouquet. A tall, well-dressed man, plain looking but confident, competent, successful, but also sensitive and self-aware. The kind of man who is neither ignorant of his own feelings nor afraid to show them. A little short on imagination, perhaps, even a little old-fashioned, but a staunch romantic for all that. It pleases him, this picture he imagines other people seeing; in some obscure way it makes him proud. As though he had always wanted to become this man walking down Fifth Avenue with a bouquet of roses in his hand, headed for an evening with the woman he loves.

Back at the apartment he leaves the flowers on the side table, changes into something more casual, sees about dinner. Nothing too fancy, of course - he is no cook - but perhaps some wine? As the microwave hums into action, he puts some music on the stereo - Chopin, the Nocturnes - then dims the lights. Perfect.

By the time dinner is ready, the smell from the flowers fills the room. It is a pleasant smell, rich and lazy, though in a little while it will start to sicken. He will have to get rid of the flowers early tomorrow morning, go down before the super wakes up and leave them in the trash, so no one can tell where they came from. Chewing his way through his microwave meal, he thinks back over the walk, remembering the eyes of the others on him, reliving the exhilaration he felt. Imagining how it would feel to really be in love.

19 comments:

curiousfoodie said...

Nicely written. :D

Banno said...

Nice :)

scout said...

i think i'll need to do that. to nurse my bruised ego. this afternoon, i made the mistake of stepping out of my office to get some lunch. every single woman (plain, gorgeous, ugly, whathaveyou) on the streets was carrying flowers. i got my turkey wrap and stared resolutely at the floor. and plugged in my earphones. hmph.

Anonymous said...

Now this is exactly what should have been sent to the caferati contest. Arghhh..the world has been deprived of a good writer. The one glimmer of hope that was left has been taken away-Falsie..old boy..dont ye get disheartened lad. Dont let these caferati chaps get to you. Arghhhhhhhhh....

Anonymous said...

It's unbelievable how many people in the world are hopeless romantics on the inside despite a practical demeanor... or maybe we are all not just seemingly practical... we probably sprint from one end of the spectrum to the other... anyway didn't mean to get philosophical on your blog...
It is really nicely written... I'm pretty sure you struck a chord with every soul that lives vicariously in the absence of such experiences...

km said...

"Plush as a mouth"

Falstaff, I'm now officially jealous of your talent.

Good day to you, sir.

Chevalier said...

ooooooohhh. nice. i thot women did this stuff....

Anonymous said...

Oh, no!!! Stop Right There, Halt, Arretez etc. What we have here, dear Falsie, is a Veritable Cosmo Cliche. Have you not been reading the glossies recently? All that talk of so what if no one buys you flowers on VD, you buy them yourself, Because You're Worth It, You Go Girl, Oprah Rules and all that??

Falsie, perhaps with your natural bent for writing such stuff, you should consider a staff writer position at Glamour Magazine or something.

For shame! I was kind of expecting death by flowers kind of thing. You know, man buys flowers, then cooks them and himself in the microwave oven. Or man buys flowers and then stabs his current lover with the stems because she loves babies and claps loudly in between movements.

HVD, by the way, dear heart. And if you are buying them, Steven Singer has these gold dipped roses that won't sicken. Only 49.99.

n!

lekhni said...

Somehow I thought he was actually mourning someone - he was going to take the flowers and place them on someone's grave (someone he himself had killed, perhaps). When he brought them home I wondered what sinister scheme he was hatching.

Falsie, why does your attempt at romantic (?) fiction turn into crime fiction in our minds? :(

Anonymous said...

i Loveeeeee n!!
my thoughts precisely!...

Tabula Rasa said...

i'm with n!
even mr bean's done this already.

Falstaff said...

curiousfoodie: Thanks

banno: Thanks

scout: awww! But look at it this way - all this means is that there are a lot of women out there in relationships with men whose idea of romance is buying flowers. The losers.

anon: Errr...I'm not sure how this could have been sent to the caferati contest, but whatever. Also, I think you can safely say that the chances of my letting the caferati chaps get to me (as you put it) are virtually nil.

anon2: Thanks

km: Ah, am so glad someone noticed that one. You do realize that sentence is the only reason para2 exists?

chevalier: Nah.

n! (and all those who agree with her): Okay, there is a huge difference between buying flowers for yourself and pretending they're from someone else, and buying flowers so you can pretend you're the kind of person who buys flowers / has someone to give them to. It's a completely different thing. If you can't see that you should stick to reading Glamour magazine.

Oh, and n!, to be fair, I did have a story about a bouquet of roses dowsed with kerosene and lit with a match after you hand it over to your date, but I figured after my Diwali bomb story it would get repetitive. Next year.

lekhni: I'm not sure whether you should be asking me that question or yourself. Though you may have a point. After all, some of my favorite romantic films are Hitchcock's (and no, I don't mean Rebecca)

Anonymous said...

And what about your usual trenchant commentary on Dan Ariely's findings, interpereted by Yahoo as below:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080214/sc_livescience/inromancelooksmattersmosttothebeautiful

"Beautiful people marry beautiful people and less beautiful people marry less beautiful people," said Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at MIT's Program in Media Arts and Sciences and Sloan School of Management. "

n!

Falstaff said...

n!: Not worth it. From the description in the article I'd say the study results are entirely valid. For the population of people who would use an online dating site called HotorNot.com

G said...

It was a tad predictable...
However, I did spend a large part of the day looking at bouquets in people's hands trying to find that perfect rose - plush as a mouth - in vain :)
Alas, they exist only in Falstaff's writings :P

tangled said...

Reminded me of the King story for a minute...

dipali said...

Poor guy. Nice story.

Anonymous said...

Gave me goosebumps! Somewhat akin to a Kafka meditation, no? I don't mean its derivative or anything . Me too, officially jealous like the other commenter before me...

Kits said...

Very nice :)