Flower-arranging used to be an old woman’s game. Until recently, you could stick six red roses, four ferns and a buttload of baby’s breath into a dusty crystal vase and all the local yokels would “ooh” and “ahh” like you were on the level of friggin’ David Hockney.
If a certain plucky iconoclast dared to ask whether a bouquet might show to better advantage if placed in an alternative vessel, such as Father’s soup thermos, she’d be fobbed off with vague excuses like, “Your grandfather gave me that vase for our twentieth wedding anniversary” or “Those flowers are poisonous, so I’d prefer to display them in containers that we don’t eat or drink out of.”
Cool story, Grandma, but it’s 2019 and I have a Pinterest account. That means I know the truth, namely: that normal vases are cancelled, betch!
From here on out, if I see an unattended Mason jar, you’re goddamn right that I’m filling it with marbles, lemon slices, and a few artistically disheveled wheat stems. Were you dumb enough to leave your lamp off? Then of course I’m gonna unplug it and pack its base with daffodils.
These are literally not your grandpappy’s flower arrangements, because your grandpappy was a florist who owned his own retail space, and he had very specific safety protocols. Even back in 1927, he was afraid of displaying foxgloves in coffee pots, because foxgloves are actually used to produce heart medication.
But I fear no such thing—hence my recent departure from the Hawthorne Safeway’s spineless floral department.
Plato once said that objects in this world are but mere imitations of their ideal forms, and thus all art is but an imitation of an imitation. I didn’t understand WTF he was talking about until I saw a Pringles can covered in a sweater sleeve and jammed with silver spray-painted willow branches. Then I understood: in this debased world, a vase can be anything (and anything can be a vase!)
A hand-painted Limoges teapot from 1881? That’s a vase. A hollowed-out pineapple? That’s also a vase. A braid of lopped-off hair tried around one of those scary Bianca Jagger fedoras? 100% a vase, if you line it first.
It’s risky for me to say this, because it invites haters to shoot me down with their word-guns. Like my aunt, who claimed that arranging peonies in filthy milk buckets is “jejune at best.” Or my boring roommate Joel, who tried to guilt me by whining that his cat “died” because I “put lilies of the valley in his copper water dish.”
C’mon, Joel. Is your life really so exciting that it can't use a dash of mild poison drama? You and I both know that's not true.
You’ve got to understand that my life is bereft of whimsy—I’m an unemployed philosophy major with fallen arches and a diabetic dog. I don’t need you to question why I want to stage some larkspur in an old World War II ammo shell on my mantel. I need you to accept that doing so is my perfect right!
Because at the end of the day, aren’t we're all mere vessels ourselves, a collection of ghosts trying to get along in a dying world? So what if we’re not as beautiful as what we contain? Like flowers, we deserve to live forever—but we won’t.
So while you sheeple are out there eating panini like you're immortal, where will I be? I’ll be loading up my neighbor’s baby bottles with tiny pinecones. I'll be cramming floral foam into an old maggotty birch log. I’ll be stealing Joel’s so-called “cancer research” test tubes and using them to display a single ranunculus blossom each.
A glaring awareness of my own mortality may be eating away at my soul, but I’m stuffing that hole with a teapot of carnations!