My friend, John Goh, runs a thriving floral arrangement business in Malaysia. We’ve never met, but either he or our mutual friend, Mei Ling, who I went to school with when I was 12, usually tags me in pictures of beautiful blooms from his business, Bloom, the floral shop.
I love the pictures, even if at times, I suspect this is the closest I’ll ever get to receiving an actual flower bouquet. My history of being the recipient of flowers is like most girls, a long story of never getting what you want from the person you’re with.
The first flower I ever received was from a boy called Chua Kok Seng. Unlike all the other boys who were closer to midgets at 13, he was over 6 feet tall and very well-built. You can imagine the rows of eyes that turned to watch from their seats, as he stood outside my class with a single rose in hand, as rain fell, somewhat dramatically, in the background.
Since our school was forever trying to raise funds for this and that by allowing the student body to sell roses, he was often outside my class, waiting for me to retrieve his plastic wrapped single stalk like a basset hound – that’s the Hush Puppy dog – with a bone in his mouth waiting for someone to play throw and fetch. As an adult, I realise the amount of courage he must have had to endure the stares and whispers, for even grown men would rather walk over hot coals with ants in their pants than subject themselves to that level of scrutiny. What more since it was a known by all and sundry that I was mooning over this midget named Irwan.
The next time I received flowers, I was eighteen. I had gotten over the midget Irwan and was dating someone ten years older, who although lacking in imagination, had the money to buy me a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day. The joy at receiving them lasted 4 days, because without flower food, they withered after that.
Deciding to woo me through my stomach, His Royal Highness only bought me three stalks at the beginning of our relationship. He said he wanted to get a dozen roses but had no idea they’d cost as much as a good meal out. The next time he bought me flowers was for our wedding; I had a bouquet of about 20 to 30 white rose buds he’d paid a floral wholesaler in Springvale, Melbourne, to gather and pretty for me.
For the next ten years, the only bouquets I received were from Amanda, who plucked flowers from the roadside for me. I know, how pitiful. Then for my last birthday, His Royal Highness came back with three red roses for me. He was a smidgen embarrassed when Tania, my good friend, gave me a ginormous bouquet overflowing with flowers and leaves of every kind, dwarfing his small offering. He kept saying over and over again, “Isn’t that a big bunch of flowers?”
Since he’d been outdone by Tania, His Royal Highness splashed out on a bunch of white Lilies from Coles for me on our tenth wedding anniversary. He had to. He figured he’d either be sleeping in our non-existent dog house or evil-eyed by my entire family for making less effort.