OK, It’s time for a confession of sorts. I am a powerful babe but Lord have I tripped on a few misconceptions. Before the dawn of time, I found myself at University with some fairly cool friends. We used to hang out at The Grill at USC and our one goal was to impress one another. One had to race for the latest copy of Times to speed read it and then casually drop pearls at the table. Whoever pre-empted the others got the booby prize: a startled look and a “Dang!” from the others. In those days, women scientists were few among the mix so the gathering was always lopsided with guys.
But on the Eve of Valentine’s day I was desperate. I didn’t give a damn about the Times magazine and impressing the dreary lot. I wasn’t dating anyone regularly and so the possibility of candy, flowers and silky nothings was somewhat remote. But undaunted, I decided to put out a tiny request. Of course I did it with perfect covert tactics. I removed myself from the dialogue at that sacrosanct Grill and then interjected a thought into the mix.
“Y’know? It’s a shame we don’t all just simplify. None of us girls need a full blown dozen of long stemmed red roses. We’d even settle for ONE, One sweet little red rose bud. After all, it says the same thing. And by the way, it isn’t necessarily I love you forever. It just kind of says, Hey, babe, I’m thinking of you.
I deliberately avoided eye contact but noted a silence in the group at that fated table. Next day, I showed up after Chemistry class. There was the same crowed of intellectuals and as I sat down, one of them, a good friend, not a lover, quietly handed me that red rose. I have loved that moment forever.
Two years later, I found myself again, in a similar position, only at a different university in a different grill. By that time, I had kissed a few frogs. I had two closeted gay friends and I issued the same rose treatise. They were professors and very very formal men. I don’t think they were a couple, but who cares?
The next morning, I called in sick. I just couldn’t face Valentine’s Day without a rose. Call me a wuss, but I needed that validation.
On February 15, I resumed my research post and put on my lab coat and prepared for the day. As I opened the refrigerator to get out some lab preps, I gasped. There was a single rose in a vase. Oh ye of little faith, I told myself and smiled. The card read: Hey, girl, no need to play sick. Here’s your damned rose! Happy V Day, Ron.
Now, decades later, I still remember those two roses, both from men who were not my lovers, just my fabulous friends. And YES, it was simple. One rose.