« Ladies, Who's Looking Out For You??? | Main | Obama's Unrealistic Assumptions About Health Care Costs »

April 27, 2009

Little Things

Many moons ago when the blog princess was newly married, we lived in a small apartment complex in Williamsburg, Virginia. We didn't have much in the way of furniture. The decor could perhaps be best described as Early Yard Sale with a dash of Pier One thrown in to make it truly bewildering. The living room sofa was two foam mattresses with some lovely peach-colored fitted sheets and an assortment of batik throw pillows, and our only end table a repurposed TV cabinet, turned around backwards so the hole where the TV screen had once been was hidden from view.

I worked hard, though, to try and make the place look homey. I had a wonderful exotic looking floral tablecloth that I kept on our round table in the breakfast nook. It matched our dishes (that was probably the only thing we owned that did match). Since we didn't have many pictures, I carefully ironed and hung an assortment of linen tea towels with printed botanical images on the wall.

We only had one car, which the spousal unit invariably took with him to class and work, after he was done with his classes for the day. That meant our tiny son and I walked everywhere; to the grocery store, the library (3 miles one way!) or the laundromat.

But my favorite walks were the ones I took in the afternoons at the end of each week. On Fridays, I liked to have fresh flowers on the table. Since buying them was out of the question, I would take the baby out for long walks along the back roads where wildflowers lined the pavement on both sides: asters, Queen Anne's lace, chicory, Lady's Slippers in springtime. They never lasted long, but I can't think of too many things that made me more satisfied than looking at my table and seeing a vase full of wildflowers.

A scientific experiment measured the effect that receiving various gifts had on the recipient. Unsurprisingly (at least to me) flowers gave the most joy:

While the women smiled when receiving nearly all of the gifts, significantly more authentic Duchenne smiles were observed in women receiving flowers than the other gifts. While 100 percent of those receiving flowers smiled, only 90 percent of those receiving fruit and 77 percent of candle-receivers smiled authentically when seeing their gifts. Three days later, the women were interviewed on the telephone again, and only the flower-receivers scored significantly higher on the mood questionnaire than they had in the first interview.

Whether they arrive grasped in the chubby fist of a small boy or wrapped in gauze with a big satin bow, flowers gladden the heart of any woman.

It's scientific.


Posted by Cassandra at April 27, 2009 07:23 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2855

Comments

Ok, I understand that, and totally believe it. But can any of you fine ladies please explain to me why?

Why flowers and not some other kind of plant? I am just too much of a "guy" to really understand the flower thing (past that which I need to understand... that I need to give them).

Posted by: MikeD at April 27, 2009 08:49 AM

MikeD -

Plants are several things. They are architectural elements - you put a tall one against a wall with a high ceiling to bring proportion. They combat "climate change" inside the house - they keep the humidity around your grand piano stable, and a big draping Pothos also looks good near the curve of a grand piano. They are companions - a plant near your kitchen sink or on your desk at work is always there to keep you company, and it keeps everything from looking so utilitarian.

But a pretty bouquet of flowers is like having Miss California show up at your house for a few days. It's completely different from the usual way of doing things, it's prettier than the plants that live there (she's prettier than anyone at our house, and has much whiter teeth), it's friendly and outgoing (she seems to be a genuinely nice person) and it changes the usual orbit of everything. When I have a bouquet of flowers on the counter, it's like having a bunch of people there for a party jump out and say "Surprise!" because you forget that it's there until you come into the room.

Then they die. Just as having Miss California in the house for a few days would be completely unusual, you would like her to eventually go home so you can go back to what you were doing before she came. Return to your drab way of living so that the next time you get flowers, they'll do their magic on you again.

There are some bouquets that do not do anything for me, however. Many supermarket bouquets are brought as a last minute thought, and they often aren't really pretty. They rely heavily mums and on those ghastly purple flowers that are on a thick stem that looks sort of like a thistle. I do not like making dinner for people and having them show up just as everything is getting critical, with a bouquet that needs to be tended to and put in a vase. I think if you are bringing flowers, they should not involve work for your hostess. Have them put in a vase where you bought them, or get a low table centerpiece, but don't bring a bunch of needy flowers in cellophane to a woman who is trying to make everything for dinner come out right and at the same time.

When I order flowers, even for a funeral, I always ask that the arrangement be "flamoyantly cheerful". It never goes wrong. In fact, I've been told many times that the arrangement I sent was the prettiest one there. I think that when you send flowers for funerals, the people attending know the person is dead. They need to be reminded that joy might return.

Posted by: MathMom at April 27, 2009 09:34 AM

They need to be reminded that joy might return.

That is why I like flowers. They are joyful - happiness in a small package.

I love to see a flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk - beauty thrusting itself up defiantly from something broken. It reminds me that the natural world constantly surprises us with beauty, even when we least expect it.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 09:43 AM

"Why flowers and not some other kind of plant? I am just too much of a "guy" to really understand the flower thing (past that which I need to understand... that I need to give them)."
I get the utility of deciduous trees on the southern side of the hovel. I understand the practical application of windbreaks such as properly spaced Leland Cypress with an inner row of tall shrubs on the north and west sides of same. And the beauty of ma nature busting out in the spring is undeniable. As to why it seems to work so well? That may be beyond the understanding of a mere Neanderthal such as myself, but I've learned to go with it.

And after years of trying to remember to purcha... ah purchasing cut flowers just because, it dawned on me. Till up wide swaths of lawn, mulch it and tell the better half you will plant whatever bulbs, perennials and annuals her heart desires. Same for flowering trees and roses.

In the long run, it's far more economical and handy when you can cut something on the way in to the house. Like right after you've bought another firearm, or old truck, or work trailer, so you will not mar the old truck's finish by hauling mulch...

Ok, so I'm bitter-n-clingy and cheap, ahh, frugal. Yeah frugal. =;^}

Posted by: Have-tiller-will-travel at April 27, 2009 09:54 AM

Flowers bring springtime no matter what season it is. Probably the nesting instinct left over from cave days. I'm sure OBL has a mountain lupine of some sort decorating his cave before the goat eats it.

Flowers do "purdy up the place" though and can set the tone and mood for the next couple of days. Don't forget to throw the seeds into a container for next year.

Meanwhile, pass the Zyrtec.

Posted by: vet66 at April 27, 2009 10:28 AM

Happy memories...especially the dandelion flowers.

Posted by: Cricket at April 27, 2009 10:32 AM

I'm usually skeptical about basic differences between men and women, but it's surprising how few men can grasp the fact that they really can please many women, at minimal cost and effort, with the gift of flowers. My husband finds this concept completely incomprehensible. He believes there is some kind of perfect gift he can come up with on anniversaries or Valentine's Day, when all he really needs to do is show up with a handful of whatever he could pick within a radius of a quarter mile. It's so far from anything he could enjoy that I think he just can't believe I'm serious.

I love nothing better in the way of a hostess gift than flowers of any kind. I don't care if it's the last minute and they need to be put in a vase.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 27, 2009 11:01 AM

My husband finds this concept completely incomprehensible. He believes there is some kind of perfect gift he can come up with on anniversaries or Valentine's Day, when all he really needs to do is show up with a handful of whatever he could pick within a radius of a quarter mile.

Yep.

It's the thought that counts more than anything.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 11:08 AM

I find that's true in general though: most of the things my husband has done that have pleased me the most have been the times he did some small thing that was considerate. It's the small gift of time and attention that I prefer far more than an expensive gift I probably won't use.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 11:10 AM

After puttering in the Rear Shade Garden and experimenting since 1989, I finally got it to the point that there's *something* blooming all year round.

*Love* hellebores -- and hardy cyclamens will poke pink flowers up through three inches of snow.

But if I bring yellow roses or callas home, I'll get The Silent Treatment for a week. I have no idea why, and I've never asked...

Posted by: BillT at April 27, 2009 11:28 AM

But if I bring yellow roses or callas home, I'll get The Silent Treatment for a week.

Well that is a new one on me :p

I don't think I ever got mad at my husband for bringing me flowers. About the only reason I can imagine for getting mad would be if I ever got the impression he was shoving flowers at me to distract me from something he didn't want to deal with, or to bribe his way out of the dog house.

But he is smart enough not to do that.

I don't mind not talking about some things. I understand that sometimes guys don't understand the female need to talk our problems out. But in that event, I prefer to just be told like an adult, "You know, I don't feel like discussing that." That way, I know what is going on and I can decide how I want to deal with it. I don't like guessing games or being treated like a little kid.

I'm not saying this has anything to do with your situation (because it seems to be tied to the kind of flower rather than the circumstances). But that's an area where men and women are different, and one where I've seen a lot of guys get themselves into worse trouble than they were in the first place :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 12:28 PM

It's the flowers.

I also don't plant anything with yellow blooms.

On the positive side, I don't have to pull dandelions. First sign of one and she's on it like a Congerscritter on a cash campaign contribution...

Posted by: BillT at April 27, 2009 12:46 PM

Well, I do know that yellow roses are considered a symbol of friendship only, rather than of love. Not sure what calla lilies are supposed to symbolize... I'm pretty rusty on the "language of flowers".

However, for Texas ladies, that might be a little different. My dad will sometime bring my mom yellow roses, but it's with that whole "Yellow Rose of Texas" thing in mind. Mom also likes daffodils. When I was a little girl, I would pick those tiny little daisies and dandelions to bring home to Mom, and I would also stop in at the flower shop at the PX and pick something up for her. Back then, I could get a decent bunch of flowers with a little bit of my allowance money. Flowers aren't as inexpensive as they used to be...

But, I would not be upset if someone sent me flowers. Haven't had that happen too much. Had a guy bring me flowers on Easter my senior year of high school, and my best friend's parents sent me an arrangement when I graduated with my BBA back in the day. That's pretty much been it...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 27, 2009 12:52 PM

My sister-in-law turned 50 last week and I suggested to my husband that we send her flowers. He was skeptical but agreed. When we got home the next day there was a message from her on the answering machine thanking us over and over for the flowers, describing them in detail, and half-laughing, half-crying. My husband now thinks I'm a magician for knowing so well what *his* sister would love so much.

Sometimes it's women who are actually pretty simple to figure out.

Posted by: Elise at April 27, 2009 12:52 PM

Calla lillies are the symbol of death.

Yellow roses are either friendship or 'get lost.'

Not to hijack, but the eldest CLU is going to a prom in Atlanta. Naturally, he turned to me for Advice in selecting a corsage. I told him he would be safe with a wrist corsage, a matching boutonniere for his tux and that the corsage should complement her dress. She wouldn't tell him anything about the dress, so he came to me again. I told him he would always be safe with either white or red roses and baby's breath, or a small orchid.

He told me yesterday she loves red roses.

Heh.

Posted by: Cricket at April 27, 2009 01:30 PM

When I was just an innocent young thing, I saved every single corsage I was ever given.

I am not sure why. I just did. I had a shelf in my bedroom where I put that kind of stuff.

My favorite was made of miniature pink sweetheart roses. Even after all these years, I can remember just what it looked (and smelled!) like when he pinned it onto my dress.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 01:43 PM

i love this post cassandra.

after a certain point in the summer, i pitch a fit if my husband cuts our field's edges because they are filled with queen anne's lace.

Posted by: kate at April 27, 2009 02:46 PM

I'm not a flower fan. They die. I understand the thought behind them and they do make me smile when I get them (especially when sent from Iraq or other far-away destinations) but, given the choice, they are not at the top of my list.

However, when Princess Trouble was born, MacGyver bought be a lilac bush which he then planted outside the front door. Lilacs are my all time favorite flower (followed closely by...get this...orange blossoms and camelias) and the fact that he knew well enough to get a PLANT instead of just a bunch of flowers made me cry.

I was SO sad to leave that plant but, when we went back to AK a few years back, that bush was growing strong!

Posted by: HomefrontSix at April 27, 2009 03:07 PM

I love nothing better in the way of a hostess gift than flowers of any kind. I don't care if it's the last minute and they need to be put in a vase.

Texan99, you must be much more organized than me! :)

Posted by: MathMom at April 27, 2009 03:17 PM

Gosh, Cassandra. I'd forgotten about my first flowers for a dance until this post. I was in college (somewhat of a late bloomer) and wore a cream-colored dress with deep red ribbon trim down the front. My date picked me up then sneaked into the university President's rose garden and picked a half-open bud that just matched the ribbon. At 17, I though that was terribly romantic.

Posted by: Elise at April 27, 2009 04:16 PM

Heh :)

When we first started dating, I used to come outdoors every morning, and tucked into our newspaper, there would be a different colored rose.

I didn't stand a chance :p

It was only later I found that he'd been hopping over the fence of one of the Admiral's gardens and picking them every night.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 04:20 PM

I love Queen Anne's lace, kate.

It grows in the woods at the edge of the road right across the street from my house. I love wild roses, too.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 04:22 PM

"It was only later I found that he'd been hopping over the fence of one of the Admiral's gardens and picking them every night."

Sooo....he stole roses to steal your heart.
Yep, definately Marine material.
And by selecting only the *best cared for on the base* shows his future Officer stripe, to boot!!

*snnicker*
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 27, 2009 04:39 PM

Miss Ladybug

This is for you. God bless Texas!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoPQqPJ7fbQ

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 27, 2009 06:51 PM

FWIW, I was lucky enough to meet Miss Ladybug in person this weekend.

If I were a guy, I'd give her flowers in a heartbeat. She looked fantastic!

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 07:31 PM

Well, he did steal my heart. That is for certain.

I broke up with another guy - someone I'd been going steady with for a year - when I realized I had fallen in love with him. I wasn't sure whether he felt the same way about me, but I *thought* he might. I just knew he was something special.

And I have never been sorry.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 27, 2009 07:34 PM

Thanks, Don.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 28, 2009 12:57 AM

Thanks, Cass, but I didn't catch anyone hitting on me this weekend...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 28, 2009 01:01 AM

Darn. I *knew* there was another reason I should've skipped to DC for the weekend...

Posted by: BillT at April 28, 2009 02:41 AM

You should have, Bill. Miss Ladybug would have been worth it!

Posted by: HomefrontSix at April 28, 2009 03:28 AM

*sigh*

Where were all you li'l matchmakers when I was *single*?

Oh. Right.

Not *born* yet...

Posted by: BillT at April 28, 2009 04:25 AM

Why is it that people who want to play matchmaker are nowhere near me??

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 28, 2009 06:16 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)