9 Nov 2013
One day last summer I went for a walk in my neighborhood after dinner. It was the beginning of the summer, or must’ve been, because I don’t think there’s any way I would willingly stroll about in billion-degree weather otherwise. Yes, now that I think about it it must’ve been in that brief period where we all try to convince ourselves that maybe it’s not SO hot out yet and that the evenings are still coolish.
On my walk, I passed a house on a corner with a gorgeous, yet sparse, purple hibiscus-y/azalea bush in their side yard. Now this bush thing had been blooming for awhile, and most of its blooms were on the ground. I’m just setting this up so you won’t think I’m a monster. So, seeing as it was beautiful, and I was propelling myself through the universe only using the body I was given, I plucked a bloom off the bush. Pluck is not the right word. Plucking is quick, and I kind of had to struggle. I negotiated a bloom off the bush, anyway.
Across the street, at a house with lots of lovely tiger lilies planted precariously close to the street, there was someone idling in a truck that I paid no attention to, but then the truck whipped around and pulled up next to me. The lady inside rolled down her window and asked, “Are you the one who’s been stealing my flowers?”
Let’s pause for a moment and just consider the various options a person could have. Either NO, I have not been stealing your flowers, or YES, I have been stealing your flowers. However, if I were the type to steal flowers, would I also be the type to admit this? And yes — I had just stolen a bloom off a flowering bush. I suppose I fit the profile. I suppose perhaps I should not have been so taken aback by her just flat-out DRIVING UP TO ME and asking HEY ARE YOU THE FLOWER THIEF.
I didn’t have a sassy response. I just said no. Then she said “Ok. Because someone’s been stealing my flowers.” And then she looked at me for a moment and then drove away.
I continued my walk, though now I was holding a TAINTED STOLEN FLOWER and felt like it was a cartoon bag of money with the dollar sign drawn on. I walked. I passed some people walking their dogs, none of whom screamed at me for stealing, and an older lady who smiled at the flower. I turned, I walked some more, I passed the same lady again. “Nice to see you!” we both joked. I kept walking, and I ran into her one more time. “We have to stop meeting like this,” one of us probably said, because look, if you don’t say that kind of stuff to strangers then you might as well just give up. She stopped and asked for directions back to Jefferson Street.
We actually stood there for over an hour talking. By the time we parted, I knew how long she’d been married (35 years), who said I love you first (she did, about four months in, then he straggled along a few months later), the ages/professions/marital status of all three of her sons (one of whom had just moved to Jackson to start his ER residency at UMC), and some stuff about her dogs. If this were a cozy mystery, she and I would become co-owners of a yarn store and solve crimes. Like who the REAL flower thief was! (Probably the owner. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, floral edition.)
Instead, we parted ways, and as I walked home still clutching the bloom I thanked the universe for restoring the balance so quickly.