Yes, beloved readers, it’s Valentine’s Day. Even if you celebrate Superbowl Hangover Day, Olympic Ice Dancing Recap Day, or your regularly scheduled I-Don’t-Like-Mondays Day, you’ll be bombarded with graphic pink and red hearts and flowers and droolworthy chocolate recipes. You won’t find those here, but one of us Chicks has a public-service warning for you: Beware the Roses…
Before I explain why those innocent-looking, sweet-smelling roses on your kitchen counter could drive you to homicide, I need to set the record straight.
When I was kid-detective Flossie Bobbsey’s age, I thought all roses were, in her words, bee-yoo-tiful. My mom had four gardens, and I had the opportunity to weed my way through them, carefully avoiding nasty thorns and fuzzy, lurking bumblebees. Five cents a grocery bag full didn’t net a fortune, but it beat dusting. My floral charges presented themselves in a dizzying color wheel of enticing hues: reds, pinks, peaches, creams, and whites. They all smelled nice. But the cheery yellow roses were my favorite.
Eventually I learned a few things about roses. Like the demanding Flower in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, they can be selfish, vain, and scheming beneath those silky petals. They murmur barely audible messages to those who desire them from afar. This is especially true around the middle of the cruelest month. No, not April. February, when the roses display their true colors.
Everyone loves roses, right? And really, what’s better than receiving them once in a while?
Sadly, no fabulous bouquets ever came my way, even on Valentine’s Day, for more decades than I cared to count. None of my Prince Charmings believed in floral displays of affection on Hallmark holidays. And that was perfectly okay with me.
Because…well, roses were expensive. Over-rated. Maybe even vaguely sexist. Plus there was the daunting task of keeping them alive, even for a week.
What could be worse than receiving a garish, token arrangement at the office, where everyone would be sure to notice that telltale trail of rose petals leading straight from the reception area to your desk? And everyone was so happy for you.
But one rainy Valentine’s Day, it finally happened. I was the recipient of an enormous bunch of gorgeous roses. Please bear with me—I’m getting to the murder part.
My eyes filled with happy tears, which I quickly brushed away so no one could tell I was a 1-800-Flowers newbie. I was a princess today, the Cinderella who had always watched everyone else go off to the ball. At last I could live Happily Ever After. (In the romance world, they refer to that as “HEA.” In the mystery world, not so much.)
The spell was broken when a colleague sidled up behind me and peered over my shoulder at the attached card. “Boyfriend?”
“They’re yellow,” she said, with a sniff. “Yellow roses mean friendship. Or jealousy. Not love. Too bad.” Then she walked away.
You would have thought she was talking about yellow snow. And rose colors had meanings? I quickly googled to confirm, and the yellow-hearted messengers on my desk were silent. Yes, red meant love, and white was purity or unity, and peach denoted passion and yellow with red tips meant a growing relationship. Black-hued roses were not good news–no shock there. There was even a peachy-pink Miss Piggy rose. (Maybe I didn’t want a bouquet of those, either.)
My colleague was right about the friendship-yellow. She’d ruined the most important moment of my entire romantic life. “Kill her,” the roses said, very loudly and clearly. “Kill her now.”
I glanced at the pair of scissors standing among the editing pencils in my desk mug. “You can do it,” the roses urged. “Kill, kill, kill!”
My hands closed on cool steel, just as the sender called to see if they’d arrived. He’d remembered that I’d told him yellow roses were my favorite. An arrangement sat on the champagne table the day we’d met at an event.
Reader, I married him. My bridal bouquet included gorgeous but perfectly meaningless hydrangeas–and maybe a yellow rose or two.
What are you doing on this multi-faceted Monday? Let us know in the comments below!