Love Letters in Flower
Every few weeks I write a letter to my friend Sabine in Berlin. Although one often thinks of them and misses them a lot, each subsequent letter has become more exhausting. Normally, I can not say more than, “I often think of you and miss you very much.” In addition, I read her last letter again to write something about what she wrote to me.
Unfortunately, her letters consist only of the report that she often thinks of me and misses me a lot. Of course, it’s unlikely that any of our correspondence ever gets into the auction block at Sotheby’s.
Yesterday, however, I took a look at the two plants I had bought for her and suggested that she visit her soon, if she wants to see them while they are still alive. I gave her to her when she came here in March.
Yes, it’s a pretty smart idea to buy a gift for someone you know is not taking it away. You could say it’s about having your cake and eating it – though that’s a phrase I’ve never quite understood. If you think about it, how could anyone eat cake if he did not have a cake to eat? And when they eat their cake, they have their cake. So why really make a fuss?
I think it just proves that you’re better off not thinking too much about phrases. If you hear one, just say, “Yes, of course, is not that the truth?” Then finish the dishes.
Anyway, I bought Sabine a rose plant and a bougainvillea – that’s a funny name for a plant. It’s a funny name for everything except maybe a french sauce. Actually, it would also be a funny name for a French sauce. But who has the gall to question the French about it?
Only one rose has flourished since Sabine returned to Berlin three months ago. The bougainvillea has thrown off all the leaves and looks like a bundle of thorny water pipes. I really liked these two green Eden offspring. Of course, they should remember the blossoming of love between Sabine and me.
I did my best to take care of her. Inquiries have shown that I pour them again shortly after sunrise and then towards evening. I dont know. It was no small matter to have to get my bones out of bed every morning at six. I mean, it’s not that these two rotten guys are very busy or have places to go to. Nevertheless, I followed the wise instructions of the gardeners. (My God, this is not a carousel ride, so it’s no wonder they came up with the name “bougainvillea” to refer to this unruly shrub.)
Both need to know that I’m not so happy with their behavior, because although I’ve never talked to them, I look at them contemptuously from time to time. Yes, I know that it is advisable to talk to plants, and many gardeners claim that flowers and plants respond well to the delicate intonations of human chatter. Call me an elite snob if you like, but I do not speak to shrubs. In fact, the few people I’ve met should be put in pots and hung on the rafters themselves.
In recent days, however, I have spent the extra effort to cover this top flora in store-bought topsoil and quench their precious thirst with bottled spring water. But without success. Nevertheless, they only loll around like welfare recipients who look increasingly morose. What would these villains of mine do next, hire a specialist – people – gardener to bring them back to luster?
The worst part of all this ordeal is that it starts to cause concern about my wife in Berlin. Given that these withered garlands should keep the memory of our mutual passion alive, it is not surprising that their deaths arouse the suspicion of infidelity
Hey, do not look at me. Of course I could have thought about it. After all, three months have passed since we were together, and at forty, my libido remains robust. Much garlic and ginseng beautify the daily food. Oh, okay, I admit there was a brief flash of an episode with a lovely girl from Chiang Mai. I was lonely; She was very nice. I was drunk; She was sleepy. Everything was dark and vague.
Okay, okay, shoot me. So these blasted shrubs went into a coma? But what about Sabine? What kind of evil did she play? It’s been so long since I saw her that I’m not even sure she’s the same girl I’ve been thinking about day and night. Actually, she should send me a picture of herself before she visits me again. Imagine she was running for two weeks with the luggage in tow to my bungalow, and I did not recognize her.
The implication is not that there have been many women in my life lately. On the contrary, there really was not any. But while absence speeds up the heart, the mind tends to play pranks. Sabine and I only knew each other biblically for a week. Then she was gone. As I said, I have thought of her every day since then. However, without seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting, she has become a kind of ethereal vision of unparalleled beauty. When circumstances hinder the lovers from loving, the lovers tend to indulge in whimsical reveries of invention. The problem, of course, is keeping the Rhapsodies tied to reality. The more time you spend applying your imagination to a lover rather than your body, the more likely it is that your lover will be a disappointment the next time around.
Too bad that Sabine and I did not think in March to develop a reverse strategy. We should have sent the plants to Berlin and were supposed to stay here together. Everyone involved was in full bloom at the time, and I would much have preferred to care for my lover’s love and consolation rather than those ungrateful decaying leaves.
Do not get me wrong. God forbid that I be accused of belittling Mother Nature’s foliage. Two of my five senses are very fond of their handiwork. I appreciate the sight and the smell of everything. Unfortunately, I seem to have no ability to nourish the results. The green thumb I’m wearing now is a result of the burn from these blasted thorns.
The plants would be much happier in Berlin. I know that because I know that one day very, very soon, the sluggish, lethargic initiates will wake up at the bottom of Maenam Bay.
Better than the plants in Berlin and Sabine in my arms. I am sure that both couples often think together and miss each other very much.
McFinn is from Chicago and lives with his wife in Cambodia. He has a B.A. Degree in Philosophy from Georgetown University. Much of his work should be considered humorous and fictitious memoirs. There are also satirical essays. Location settings include Thailand, Cambodia, India, Burma and Greece.