YOU KNOW HOW a lot of women are going around these days shaking their heads and muttering: "Boy, men just don't get it, do they?"
I'll tell you something men really don't get. Flowers. Men simply don't understand what all the fuss is about.
A woman will look at a dozen roses and see something grand: beauty in its starkest form, reaffirmation, a sign that she is special, a gesture from the heart.
A man will look at a dozen roses and see . . . well, a dozen roses. If he even sees that.
I know men who -- and I probably shouldn't be telling you this -- will automatically dial a florist the minute they screw up around a woman.
It doesn't matter how they screw up, either. It can be something heavy, like forgetting to pick her mother up from the airport, which, for some reason, has a familiar ring to it.
Or it can be something fairly innocuous, like, oh, leaving the top off the peanut butter jar and catching holy hell (because you're always leaving the top off the peanut butter jar) and thinking: Hmmm, I better do something to smooth this over.
Whatever. Men are so conditioned that as soon as they screw up, they're on the phone ordering a nice bouquet of something or other and ticking off a credit card number to some over-eager sales clerk who chirps: "Ooooh, I think she'll really lo-o-o-ove this!"
Notice I said "ordering a nice bouquet of something or other" instead of actually using the name of a flower. See, that's the whole problem.
Men don't know flowers. At least most men. They're basically what I call flower-ignorant. Whereas if you take a walk with a woman, she'll say: "Oh, look at those pretty marigolds!" and tick off the names of 15 other types of flowers before the walk is over.
Marigolds. Wow. That might be the first time I've ever written that word in my entire life.
Listen, I know a guy -- you might think I'm making this up, but I'm not -- who went into therapy because of flowers.
Well, actually he and his wife both went into therapy because of flowers.
What happened was, this guy's wife was a real flower nut. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just that she loved flowers. She was the sort of person who'd get misty-eyed if she came across an FTD commercial on TV.
There were people who felt that indicated some sort of an emotional problem with the woman, but so be it.
Anyway, there came a period in their marriage where all she ever said to her husband was: "How come you never buy me flowers?"
As for the husband, he . . . well, I don't know what his problem was. But he wouldn't buy his wife flowers. He'd buy her anything else -- clothes, jewelry, you name it. He just wouldn't buy her flowers.
For weeks, his wife would corner him and say: "How come you never buy me flowers? Your friend Ted buys his wife flowers. Your friend Doug buys his wife flowers. Don't you love me anymore?"
You talk about driving someone crazy. You talk about mental anguish. All I can say is, it's a good thing this woman didn't work for the Iraqis or those captured airmen of ours in the Persian Gulf would have had even more problems.
Well, as you can imagine, the husband finally cracked. Who wouldn't? So he went to the florist and brought back some flowers for his wife.
And do you know what his wife said to him?
She said: "These are mums. You know I don't like mums. What on Earth is the matter with you?"
Well. The man has never been the same. To this day, he is drawn and pale and given to long episodes of sitting silently in a rocking chair while staring out the window. If you bring up the subject of flowers, his hands start trembling and he has to leave the room.
You know what I call this? Flower anxiety. In laymen's terms, it's a nervous condition brought on by having to make a decision about flowers.
Maybe flower anxiety isn't recognized by the American Medical Association, but it will be soon, I can guarantee that.
In fact, I'll make you a bet right now. I'll bet that if you were to survey the men currently seeking help for anxiety in this country (at least on an out-patient basis), an overwhelming number will have flower-related disorders.
God knows they're suffering, too.