Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Want My Flowers Now!

There's a whole push -- a movement -- these days, much like the Tea Party movement that is roiling politics and transforming our politicians into Frankenstein monsters. But this new, powerful movement has little to do with politics, fiscal policy, and lapel pins, but with how we honor the dead, or rather the living.

I myself am a part of the "I Want My Flowers Now" movement. It's a push toward getting our flowers now, while we're still alive instead of waiting till we're dead and unable to enjoy them.

Everyone becomes very sentimental as soon as you die. They took you for granted, in most cases. You had your nose to the grindstone and struggled hard just to get by. Everyday was the same. Toil, plodding toil. Punch the clock. Feed the kids. Pay the bills. Fall exhausted into bed at the end of another hard day. Then you finally work yourself into an early grave -- or in some cases you live well and die at a ripe old age -- and everyone sheds a massive tear and gets sentimental. Then the flowers come out, but only then.

So there you are, laying stiff as a board, quiet as a mouse, in your casket. Your eyes are closed tight. Your hands are demurely set in their permanent place. Your skin has been made up. The back of your suit they had to split to get it on you. Every hair's in place for the first time ever. And all around you, it's always the same, heaps and gobs of flowers, flowers draping everywhere, and fancy red banners in place, "Beloved Friend," "Loving Father," "Dearest Mother," "Treasured Son," or "Beautiful Daughter."

Well, I and all the others who are part of the "I Want My Flowers Now" movement hope to change this scene. In other words, please spare us the flowers when we're flat on our back and motionless. We can't enjoy them then! Give us our flowers now! Then, of course, as long as we live, please keep replenishing them as an ongoing flowery tribute to all we mean to you. And we, in return, will also be sending you flowers, sending tributes all along the way, and replenishing them frequently. As much as we can afford.

The florists at first might kick against us. Because most of their business is in the service of the sentimentalized dead. You go to one of their stores and the whole place is geared toward death. They have those sentimental placards that say "If tears could build a stairway, And memories a lane, I'd walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again." It's a very morbid place, you halfway expect to see a zombie at the cash register. But it's always a sweet lady who speaks with a consoling voice, because a full 99% of their customers have just experienced a terrible loss. I was there the other day and everyone averts their glance, because their eyes are red and puffy.

But if the florists came to know our true intentions, which are not to reduce the sale of flowers but to increase them, we'd have them on board very quickly. Because florists, like all good business people, want more customers and more sales. They crave money just like the rest of us. To them it's all about the bottom line.

So, if you want to send me flowers, in honor of my life and not my death, I will give you thanks. I will enjoy them, set them around my room, put them in vases -- the whole bit. But if you wait till I'm dead, then it'll be too late. Much too late.

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