Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Psychology of Flowers
Last August, I finished mowing my lawn and was in the process of putting my mower back in the garage, when Darla came running across the driveway wearing what appeared to be a new bikini. To my knowledge, a bikini is all she wears during the summer months, and sometimes, according to her, she only wears half of it.
She threw her hands on her hips and said, “I didn’t think you were ever going to finish mowing.”
When Darla wants to talk about something important, she throws her hands on her hips and shifts her weight to one leg. I looked at her right leg slightly bent at the knee with her heel two inches up from her other one. The tags hanging on both the top and bottom should have clued me in she was posing for me.
“Do you think this makes me look fat?” she asked.
That question causes more divorces than any other question. I’m not married to Darla so I wasn’t worried about her using my answer against me in a court of law.
“For the record, Darla, you are two inches taller than Taylor Swift and five pounds lighter.” I was guessing at those numbers based on years of women watching.
“Eddy thinks she’s fat too.”
All I wanted was a tall glass of ice water, a shower, and two cold beers in that order, but leaving her standing there in that pose clearly upset with her husband was not an option. Having known my next-door neighbors for a total of five years, I know pretty much everything there is to know about their married lives, their pre-married lives, and what they plan to do, if they ever get divorced. Eddy and Darla are the kinds of people who like to tell other people everything. Whenever they have one of their little squabbles, they often threatened divorce, but only to me, if I can’t help them work things out. Looking back on it, I wish I had never told them I had taken a psychology course in college. Anticipating a long story, I decided to get control of the situation and a glass of water.
“Darla, would you like to come inside for a glass of ice water?”
“No, but if you have a bottle of wine, I’ll drink a glass of it.”
I pulled a chair out for her at the kitchen table. I prepared a pitcher of ice water and poured her a glass of my best cooking wine. She didn’t like it and switched to ice water. When she appeared satisfied with the water, I took a seat across from her and downed a glass and a half of water before I said, “Darla, before you start, I would like to tell you that I failed that psychology course in college.”
“You say that every time I come to you for help. You’re so humble. That’s what I like about you. I wish Eddy would learn how to be modest.”
She had a point there. Eddy was anything but modest. Eddy appeared to be the happiest man in the world. Everything he did had a purpose behind it, according to him.
“Last night, I put on one of my sexiest nightgowns.”
I poured myself another glass of water and drank most it before I put the glass back down.
“And you know what stupid did?”
“I can’t imagine, Darla.”
“He stayed up and played that stupid video game on our computer until 3 A.M.”
“How do you know he stayed up until three?”
She put her hand on the table and said, “That’s when I went in there and told him it was then or never.”
Having a conversation with Darla was like walking through a minefield at night wearing a blindfold. “What did he say to you?”
“He said he was in the battle of his life, and if I didn’t keep coming in there interrupting him, he was going to get killed.”
“And what did you say to that.”
“I didn’t say anything. I walked over and pulled the power plug on the computer.”
Of all the squabbles, Eddy and Darla had thrown at me to resolve between them, that one sounded like the most serious one of all. The emotional scar left from that kind of act of aggression could linger for days, if not a week.
“Where did you bury the body?”
She knitted her brow and asked, “What body.”
“You mean Eddy is not dead.”
“No. He’s at work.”
She waited a few moments and then asked, “So what do you think?”
If I had passed that psychology course, I might have been able to give Darla a valid response, but instead, I said, “Go home and prepare Eddy’s favorite meal.”
“Why should I do that when he treated me that way?”
“You don’t want him to get the upper hand do you?”
“Well, if he walks in that door tonight carrying flowers, he’ll have it”
She rolled her eyes. “Eddy buy me flowers? That’ll be the day.”
“Okay, play it your way, but I have to remind you that I took a psychology course in college and that’s exactly what the professor said to do in cases like yours.”
After Darla left, I called The Co-Op Store where Eddy works.
“He’s loading a truck. He can call you back in an hour.”
Forty minutes later, Eddy called back and asked what’s up?
“Eddy, would you do me a favor on your way home from work?”
“Stop by the flower shop and pick up a bouquet of flowers I ordered. Bring them home and give them to Darla.”
“She gave me a good idea for a short story, and I thought some flowers would be in order, but you better not tell her they’re from me. She’s liable to say something to Linda, and you know how jealous my wife can get over silly stuff like that.”
“You know, Darla’s the same way. One day I mentioned loading a truck for a hot-looking woman and the way Darla acted you’d have thought I’d run off with the woman. All I did was load her truck. What else am I suppose to do at the Co-Op?”
“How’s that contest going?”
“Oh man, last night I got the highest score I’ve ever gotten. The next thing I know, Darla came in and pulled the plug on me. Good thing she did, I had a hard enough time getting up this morning. I’m going to bed early tonight.”
I started to tell him not to count on getting a lot of rest, but decided to let him find out the hard way.
“They’re calling for me to get back to work. I won’t forget those flowers. Man, will Darla ever be surprised to see me walk in with flowers. You sure you don’t want me to tell her they’re from you?”
“Better not. I can’t afford a divorce.”
“Tell me about it.”
“See you, Eddy. I just finished mowing the lawn, and I’ve got to go jump in the shower.”