Flowers from a Free Internet Chat Room
The i-Phone with the Bright Pink Ear Piece
She nestles into the corner of the brown corduroy couch in the living room, basking in the warm glow from the fire in the white quartz fireplace. With her cell phone in her lap, sometimes with the bright pink plastic ear piece in the style of the old black phones of the 50’s and 60’s, sometimes with the tiny wire earphones of the 21st century, she leans back against the cushions, head tilted back, long throat extended, laughter bubbling up freely from deep inside her. Night after night she chats with on-line friends from around the word on the Who Are You? site, laughing out loud with frequent joy and wild hilarity.
Pink Roses for Lola
One evening she told me she really liked a man she had been talking to, and he said he was sending her flowers. “Why do you want flowers,” I asked her. “Isn’t that a bit weird, getting flowers from the guy you talked to online and never met? Is he putting the moves on you?”
“No, no, I didn’t give him my name. I don’t know his name nor where he is from. I think he lives close, though. He is in our same time zone. I guess from Washington, Oregon or California. Maybe he lives in LA. I will see what he does. He said he went on-line and ordered them, and asked me where he should have them delivered. On my site profile I don’t have my name, I chose the wallpaper with many flowers, and post many quotes from a woman writer who is banned in my country because she speaks to the hypocrisy of the people in public life who have a lot of power and influence in the public sphere. He said he liked her, too, and that was why he wanted to talk to me.”
Well the next day I came home from work and there was a large, beautiful, very expensive vase of pink cut roses, carnations, salal and fern leaf on the kitchen island. Attached to the card was the notation, “ to Lola.” My jaw dropped before a grin broke my amazement into sunny fragments of delight.
“This is so beautiful!! I can’t believe he would send flowers to a perfect stranger! Now we all get to enjoy them. What if he really likes you? Are you going to get into trouble for this?”
Calm and self-assured, she answered, “I like it. I didn’t do anything wrong. He liked me, and wanted to send flowers, and I love flowers and wanted to get them.” That night the flowers went into her bedroom with her, and the next morning they came back to the kitchen where she sniffed the fragrance frequently as she drank her shake for breakfast. In fact, I noticed the flowers followed her around the house as she moved from room to room.
White Roses from LA
So those flowers brightened our kitchen for about a week, and had barely begun to fade when another vase, even bigger this time, even more beautiful, and even more expensive, showed up, white roses and yellow carnations with a few large wine-coloured chrysanthemums wrapped in a broad white ribbon with gold edges.
“What’s this?” I asked when I came in from work. “Did your friend send you more flowers?”
“No,” she said. “These are from another man I was talking to last night. I told him it was Valentine’s Day and everybody was getting flowers but me, and I love flowers and I need to get some too. He said he was going to send me some, but I didn’t believe him. Look!! He really did it. I like it. I am happy!”
“You are such a shameless hussy!” I laughed at her. “What are you doing, stringing these men along in chat rooms and getting them to send you flowers? Isn’t that kind of creepy?”
“No, I am having fun. They have lots of money and we were joking around and having fun, and he said he wanted to send me some, so I said yes.”
“Oh, well, I am all for saying yes to life, that’s for sure, and look, it really is a lot of fun to get these flowers delivered to our door and enjoy them for weeks. Just don’t get caught up in something you can’t get out of.”
“It’s fine. Look at his card. He has money, and I told him I like flowers, and he could do it and he wanted to.”
I read the card: “Think of me when you get these, and wish me a good life. Jaber, LA”
She grinned at me slyly, a secret agenda at the edges of her gaze. “You should join this site and talk to people from all around the world. Maybe someone would send you flowers too.”
“No way, I don’t have time for any men in my life right now, even on-line friends who send me flowers from chat rooms. I am already busy with everything else I am taking care of and I want to focus on my other projects, that’s for sure.”
Red Roses for Alshainah
The next week was her birthday, and a few days beforehand I heard her laughing into the pink earphone again. The next day, sure enough, a still larger, even more beautiful and very much more expensive bouquet of red roses and cream carnations with daisies and grasses sat in a flared vase on the island. Their fresh stems rested lightly on a bed of black, gold and white pebbles.
"It's my birthday!! Happy birthday to me!! Today I am 25 years old and the world's my oyster," she laughed at me as I came through the door.
"And who are these from?"
"I don't know his name. He didn't tell me. He only sent the card to "Alshainah," that means "Ugly" in the slang of my language, but literally it means "beautiful." I know he was teasing me by calling me ugly, when he likes me and didn't want to call me beautiful. I laughed at him and said,"Thank you. I know you think I am beautiful."
The card read, "Don't buy them for yourself anymore, psycho."
It's All Over
Well, the flowers stayed on the island for a month, gradually dying and drying, yet there was no sign of throwing them out or moving them to the compost. I did not want to do it, that was definite. They were her flowers and it was up to her to decide when they were finished.
After some time I noticed no more flowers were arriving, and I asked her, “Aren’t you getting any more flowers?”
“No, I wasn’t having fun in that site anymore. People keep messaging me but I don’t want to pick up.”
The next time I went shopping I bought a spring plant and brought yellow fragrant freesias wrapped in gold paper home to the kitchen island, where they sit in state beside the dead bouquets from the relics of Prince Charmings. Living plants last longer than cut flowers, and they don’t die. The new buds open as the old blooms wilt, and the fragrance keeps turning new pages and renewing itself.
Men friends come and go, but the girl friends are the salt of the earth.