Posted by: Memorizing Nature | May 29, 2010

Pretty Orchid Meets Boy with Bad Memory

Wildflower Series #1 – (and if you love flowers, check out Today’s Flowers)

“Oh, boy. Oh, right,” the guy said, as I stood there holding the box containing his boutonniere. 

A self-published poet at the age of 18, my supposed date held a saxophone to his hip. His clothes smelled like beer and his chin grew a shadow. I guessed he had woken up not long before the doorbell rang. It would have been alright, if he looked like a bum, I remember thinking that at the time. If he had looked like a bum, but hadn’t forgotten all about my prom. 

Instinctively, I hid his carnation behind my back. A debate went on in my mind. Should I head home to watch The Love Boat in my low-cut silky red dress? Wipe off  my make-up and leave the facecloth hanging on the lip of the bathtub like a flag of shame? Remove the pins from my hair and devour a lump of cookie dough? 

No, I should stay. It was my fault. I should have reminded him about the date a few days beforehand, since he didn’t go to my school. Come on, be fair.    

"Lady's Slippers prefer acidic soil, so there it landed, all showy with barely an audience." (Photo by E. Medline)

I was musing about that little incident the other day, sitting on a lichen-covered rock near a stand of white pine. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Lady’s Slipper flower.

Its delicacy seemed misplaced in that rough place. It was an orchid, after all. But Lady’s Slippers prefer acidic soil, so there it landed, all showy with barely an audience. Interestingly, Lady’s Slippers don’t bloom for up to 16 years and live for decades, even past the age of 50. Delayed puberty, long life – how human-like.   

The guy rummaged through his bedroom closet, and found a crushed black suit. He owned no ties, but was the type who could get away without a tie. He threw a bunch of shirts on hangers on top of the unmade bed where I slouched. Picking through the pile, he chose one and shouted, “Score!” Flashing me his first smile, he held the shirt above his head in a sort of victory salute. It was the colour of my dress, the exact same red. We would match. Not bad, that we would match. It would look like we planned it together.   

Insects search for nectar, and get caught in the Lady’s Slipper’s inward-folding petals. Fumbling their way out, they  step on the flower’s hidden parts and unknowingly become pollinators. Lady’s Slippers have evolved to be savvy plants.

"Delayed puberty, long life – how human-like." (Photo by E. Medline)

The guy and me, we ended up having a pretty good time. He admitted that no other girl had ever got him to dance to disco music, an unprecedented event. He said I was cute. I thought he was cool, and my friends liked him. At dawn, we made out on the front lawn of the house of the girl who hosted the breakfast party. I never saw him again after that morning, but later heard he had gone into library sciences.  

It didn’t matter that he didn’t have a corsage for me. I really didn’t need an orchid pinned to my chest or stitched to an elastic band around my wrist. There was already a flower on that dance floor, and it was me.

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