Not Just Flowers…

WP Weekly Photo Challenge – This week, share a symbol with us, and tell us what it means to you.

11

Warning: gentlemen (and not only) with strong feelings against the trivial habit of offering flowers are kindly asked to avert their eyes. Judgemental lady used to and adoring to receive flowers at work!

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I am, have been and always will be a spoilt brat this way – flowers are more than an assortment of colourful plants with a price tag that you throw in a vase, on an empty corner of your desk. Those who know me also know they are both a symbol and a token for me, mere proof that no matter how difficult a struggle life might become, I can still find it in me to surface for a breath of air and a glimpse of beauty… and that as long as there is somebody willing and caring enough to offer me that small source of joy, all is not lost.

We find that sort of comfort and fleeting happiness in various things and places and we are all entitled to like what we like and want what we want. So with the risk of upsetting some of you, I will admit that one way or another, the one thing all the men that have been wrong for me had in common was their inability or unwillingness to offer me flowers. That particular, apparently trivial need of mine would not be the only one they would disregard or write off as irrelevant simply because they felt differently about the subject. Lack of respect comes in all shapes and sizes; and purposely refusing to make a small gesture that would bring pleasure to the one next to you counts as disrespectful, even mean to me. What can I say, I do a lot of reading between the lines and I instinctively find meaning in symbols and the gestures accompanying them. Call me a shallow, crazy, materialistic bitch if you so choose, but I simply appreciate a man who pays attention, enjoys seeing me happy and knows that offering is about the recipient and their affinities, not about the giver and their preferences.

Yes, I know, I know, there’s something terribly wrong with me in order to have such unrealistic expectations and standards. 🙂 But I am beyond redemption, I have been spoilt rotten from an early age. I remember there was this boy whose mother always gave him a big bunch of spring flowers to offer the girls in our class and to the teachers. Her job had something to do with a greenhouse and that’s where she got the flowers for free. So every morning for a couple of weeks in spring, my friends and I – all the girls he liked or even tolerated in the class – found flowers on our desks when we got to school. He was terribly shy and that’s why he did his best to get to school before all of us; when we confronted him, he could barely find his words and he’d turn all red. It was still a very sweet gesture though, and so was he. And he wasn’t the only one, as I have mentioned before – we were quite used to the boys offering us flowers on various occasions, such as Valentine’s Day.

This type of bad behaviour was further enabled by the boys I dated as a teenager, including my high school boyfriend. Yes, horror of horrors, I kept receiving flowers on my birthday and on various other special occasions. But what I remember most fondly is how we used to sneak into the botanical garden at night, sometimes only the two of us, other times our entire group of friends. The guards were mostly asleep in their quarters and they only had surveillance cameras at the main entrance those days, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Even in those rare when our presence was discovered, they were too sleepy and bored to even try and catch us. So at the end of May and in June I’d always go home with a selection of beautiful roses that my boyfriend would pick for me… 🙂

As you can imagine, I haven’t improved over the years. I have a long, complicated, sometimes frustrating, other times exquisitely beautiful history with flowers, both when it comes to giving and receiving them. When a friend of mine turned 20, I gave her a bouquet of 20 of her favourite flowers. Her boyfriend was terribly offended by my gesture, while she was moved to tears. He was trying to teach her a lesson – flowers were a token of consumerism and materialism and he was not going to indulge such tendencies in a woman. He would have rather basked in her sadness and disappointment than have her receive flowers from somebody, anybody… I could see his face darken with anger when he noticed how much joy the flowers brought her.

Don’t get me wrong, uncomfortable as many of you, gentlemen, might be with the topic, I find that many of you deserve to receive flowers once in a while from us as well – if you like this sort of thing, of course. I was 4 or 5 when I first offered flowers to a man. It was the first ballet show I went to see with my mother and at the end I was sent to offer a big bouquet of gladiolas to the prima ballerina, who was a family friend. Instead I gave the flowers to her dance partner and husband. He had been equally amazing and I remember wondering why nobody was giving him flowers.

I also remember he was taken by surprise and asked me if I didn’t mean to give her the gladiolas. I shook my head with determination. Men often feel unconformable, even offended if a woman offers them flowers, I noticed over the years. So I will only offer a man flowers if I know for a fact he wouldn’t mind it. But I must say, I had lots of fun offering flowers to all the male teachers at the end of high school, given the diverse reactions that gesture triggered. We decided to be open-minded and progressive that year and our class offered flowers to all the teachers, regardless of their gender. One of the boys would offer them to the ladies; the task of dealing with the men fell on me. Some of them were amused and pleasantly surprised; others were at a loss for words, not at all at ease with the unforeseen situation; only one of them was downright rude, mentioning that our youth and inexperience was no excuse for mistaking him for a woman… He immediately made a grand exit, leaving the room in a huff, in genuine drama queen style. But the general consensus was that it was about time the men got some attention as well.

That’s what it comes down to – attention, respect and appreciation. A token that somebody cares enough to listen and then to transform their appreciation for me into a gesture, that’s what flowers are as far as I am concerned. They don’t need to be expensive or come from the trendiest florists; they just need to be alive, that’s all it takes to say ‘I thought I’d surprise you,’ or ‘I know this day is special to you, even if it might not be equally so to me’. And when I decide to cheer myself up or simply brighten my day and my home with some flowers, for no other reason other than because I feel like it, it’s also a reminder of rougher days and how today’s small treats should not be taken for granted; instead I should fight human nature and appreciate them.  So let’s stop and smell the roses for a moment or two, because flowers are never just flowers.

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18 thoughts on “Not Just Flowers…

    • Indeed, we do 🙂 Your gesture is as kind as theirs, I believe. Perhaps I am somewhat biased, my dandelion bouquets went straight to the bin whenever I was offering them as a child 🙂

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  1. great post! I absolutely love your writing! Its never just about the object, its always about the consideration and the kindness, but most importantly knowing that someone else wanted to make you happy by one simple gesture. Being a teenager, I always say I don’t want flowers. They are a reminder of something that was living and will die. But this post changed my mind completely. I think I was just missing some romance in my life and now that I have it, I will welcome all flowers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, you’re so sweet 🙂
      I agree with you, it’s definitely not about the object, but the deeper meaning the gesture conveys; and the smallest of gestures can sometimes make all the difference in the world.
      I’m really glad you have romance in your life, we always need some of it – even when we aren’t particularly willing to admit it – no matter what age we are. We understand and perceive this notion differently and I strongly believe we are all entitled to our own view and needs as far as this one goes.
      I hope you find it in you to enjoy all the flowers you have waiting ahead of you – both the real and the metaphorical ones. I know how hard it is to accept that everything comes to an end sooner or later and how that can prevent us from taking the risk of enjoying the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome!! The smallest gestures definitely do, I sometimes feel they may even be a little more significant. I shall enjoy every single pedal ever. Thank you so much! I am certainly trying to enjoy every single moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this post! I do like to receive flowers, but I never used to receive them when I was younger, because, I think I am not a ‘girly’ girl….and men thought I wouldn’t want them…. As I got into middle age, I did get them! Anyways, I do even occasionally buy them for myself now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes.. I remember the ‘girly girl’ stigma… I used to have such a hard time as a teenager, trying to look feminine, wear what I liked and yet not to seem too girly a girl. I stopped caring when it came to flowers and chocolates though 🙂 And in retrospect, it didn’t take long to stop caring about what others thought altogether. But it is rather disappointing when, even as adults, we are expected to fit a certain pattern, only according to the way we look.

      Liked by 1 person

    • They really make our day when we receive them 🙂 I remember an older post of yours, you were in such a good mood because you had been sent a nice bouquet of flowers that took you by surprise. That’s a great feeling and it can put the person sending them in a whole new light.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! My x used to always say they were such a waste of money. But my father always bought my mother the most gorgeous roses all the time …. And he still does every month, he places them at her graveside.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Funny how some people tend to think that anything that might make the one next to them happy is always a waste of money…
          But it’s good to know there still are special persons out there and it sounds like your father is one of them. My stepmother does something similar for my father’s grave, she brings some of the flowers he liked, she plants a few of the ones they always had in their garden and she constantly goes there to tend to them…

          Liked by 1 person

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