I was sitting with a German friend in a Kneipe in Prenzlauer Berg the other day, when one of those Indian men with the red roses came round. I hate it when the men with the red roses come round. I don’t want one – I really don’t – I really actually do not want one – they’re like, a thing which I don’t want – but I still find it vaguely humiliating, when I don’t get one. I always think that the Indian man with the red roses slides me a pitying look and probably thinks I’m bad in bed or something. I don’t like it. I’d like to ban them.
“I had this girlfriend once,” said my German friend, “back in my squat days. She was from the West, she was a really hardcore, militant feminist type, you know? And she used to get really angry if I bought her flowers. She thought a man buying a woman flowers was a really patronizing, misogynistic gesture. She used to say that in a society which wasn’t based on misogyny no man would ever buy a woman a bouquet of roses. And then you know what I did? God, what an idiot. I gave her flowers on Women’s Day! I was just this naive East Berlin boy, you know? I just thought a Women’s Day present could never be misogynistic. Big mistake. She basically exploded. So, what do you think, Jacinta? Now you’ve decided to become a feminist. What do you say?”
I took a deep breath.
“Well,” I said. “Men do all this horrific stuff to women…” Suddenly I caught sight of the horrified expression on his face and I quickly corrected myself. “I mean, some men. Some men do these horrific, despicable things to women. Torture porn and that. Beating them up. Throwing acid in their faces. There’s so much horrific stuff going on. I’m not gonna get all het up about a bunch of daffodils.”
“Yeah,” he said. “But try telling my ex that. She would definitely – definitely – definitely, definitely, definitely – not agree with you.”
“Although I must admit,” I added, thoughtfully, “my boyfriend has never, ever, ever, ever bought me flowers, ever. I guess he must secretly be a militant feminist and I just never noticed.”
“What does he buy you?”
“Oh, he gets me really good presents. He bought me my laptop. One year he got me a really warm winter coat. Face cream. Alcohol. Stuff I need.”
“Stuff you need? That’s not very romantic.”
“No, it’s not,” I agreed. “It’s very practical. We’re a very practical couple. One year I got him to order himself the books he wanted for Christmas over Amazon and then I just gave him the cash.”
The truth is – and I don’t know why this is – but I’m just not the kind of girl boys buy flowers for. They just never do. They never have. And they probably never will. And I don’t know why it is. The only ever flower I ever got from a boy was a hyacinth, and I hate hyacinths. I fucking hate hyacinths. In fact, I loathe them. In fact, I feel about them like how Madonna does about hydrangeas. I fucking loathe them. I know why. It’s because Jacinta means “hyacinth” in Spanish, and because of Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping up Appearances, and also because they smell like Granny Wee. That’s why.
My favourite flowers are tulips – so sturdy and chunky and colourful, they look like Lego flowers, there’s nothing delicate or pathetic about them whatsoever – and then, of course, red, red, red roses. They’re okay, too. Wine-red, not the tacky post office box colour, and definitely not pink – YUCK! But what’s the point of thinking about it? My boyfriend’s as likely to buy me a bunch of wine-red roses for my next birthday as he is to elope with Alice Schwarzer. Still. I have to admit. This laptop has come in pretty fucking useful.
See Jacinta live in action at Lesebühne, Rakete 2000, in Ä-Bar, which this week will be dedicated to the subject of flowers and featuring startling stories from Jacinta Nandi, Lea Streisand and Mareike Barmeyer, plus marvellous music from special guest, the one and only Naomi Fearn.