When I got married, my husband gave me a $5 fake engagement ring, knowing growing up in a jeweler’s family, I related sparkly gems to issues better left on a therapist’s couch.
Too much information.
In fact, on our first Valentine’s Day, Romeo bought me fake flowers. He was biding his time at an airport, obviously sick of nut mixes and magazines. A dozen plastic roses stuck their stiff heads out of a cheesy gift shop and somehow, maybe a belief that plastic lasts forever while real is fleeting -- or he was suffering from delusional jet lag -- he caved in.
We threw them in the trash quicker than you can say yes to a first class upgrade.
Today fake has a whole new connotation.
In Washington it’s a mantra, if you like that sort of thing. Yet in general, fake has attained a more acceptable panache in some circles -- an authentic fakeness perhaps.
At home, we have a music fake book to easily learn songs; I have a faux leather jacket, an oilcloth with sleeves; I eat vegan seitan, fake meat. And let’s not get started on Fakebook, uh, Facebook.
On the other side -- real is headaches, bad customer service, stuck zippers, peeling nail polish, cars that conk out as soon as you drive away from the mechanic.
Real can be a fake out too.
Yet we’re always looking for real. You hear it all the time: I want a real relationship, I want to find my real self, I want the real truth -- all set-ups for future fakeries?
Inundated with fake dressed as real and real disrobed as fake, I need a distraction. Nature, right? It’s the one place where fake sticks out like a Coke with no calories, no caffeine.
That’s what I’m thinking as I prepare for my annual “planting of the flower boxes” outside my second floor windows -- calming, peaceful, the real deal -- a break from the everyday illusion and confusion.
“Fake flowers aren’t tacky anymore,” says Gerri, the owner of the Garden Shoppe in Wayne, who suggests I try them when I wonder who’ll water the boxes when I’m out-of-town.
“These flowers have come a long way,” she continues helpfully, “the colors are better, they look more real, they’re more acceptable.”
Sunflowers, geraniums, coleus, peonies, ivy -- silk, plastic, paper -- no wood, no wilting petals, no water, no soil.
“No muss, no fuss,” smiles Gerri. “People don’t know the difference.”
“Which people?” I question.
“All people,” she counters, “no one really looks at your house.”
“And who buys them?” I ask.
“People who don’t want to hang out of a window to water,” she says, and I imagine people slipping, floods dripping, soil flying.
“Busy people,” she adds, “older people, people who travel.”
“Fake people?” I ask.
She laughs, reminding me these carefree blossoms can now be found in many stylish homes, even in the White House. Oh well then.
As I stare at the imposters, fondle them, fan them out, I wonder why do we do anything as frivolous as plant flowers?
Do I plant my boxes for myself or others? Am I making a showy statement, or am I doing it because I like getting dirty, nurturing something, producing something, not just seeing it once and done?
Gerri sees me wince and says okay maybe you’re not ready yet but remember they’re here if and when you are.
Please, if this happens, remind me that fake is not a real mantra, and that real -- unreliable, messy and fleeting though it may be -- is only a problem if you hang too far out of the window.
May 19, 2019