Say it with flowers

Nothing says romance like a big pile of dead things

Illustrations by Phoebe Lim

By: Gabrielle McLaren

Because everybody was suffocating in their corsets, had their pantaloons in a bunch, or were starting to grapple with the horrible series of mistakes that was colonialism, the Victorian English were not the most . . . emotionally coherent of societies. These are the people who gave us Charles Dickens, who was paid by the word and had it in his best interest to ramble on forever, and Wuthering Heights, a novel about people who can’t stop being absolute dicks to each other because the hills they live in are just too wild for their Victorian sensibilities — and all die within six months of one another. Naturally, in the affairs of the heart, these people were also emotionally handcuffed and started sending each other specific flowers to represent specific sentiments, such as meet me after the ball and don’t wear any petticoats, as well as these:


There’s nothing wrong with getting roses. Is it creative? No. Is it a surprising, quirky, or unusual choice? Not really. But you know, it shows that you or your date had enough hope and interest in this date to take the time to go pick up some flowers at the grocery store and hunt down the bouquet on display that was the least dead.  Roses show that you are reliable, and props to you.  


What this means in the language of petals is “I forgot to buy you flowers and picked some random ones growing along your street, hoping that you saw wildflower bouquets on Pinterest once and thought that they were whimsical.” It can still be pulled off as long as the flowers aren’t still attached to their roots or clumps of dirt. Attention to detail matters, folks.


Daisies are the absolute cutest, but did you know that they’re actually an invasive species and an enormous pain in the ass after about three years of relatively peaceful growth in your garden? This is the perfect bouquet to give your prospect a heads up that you are adorable and worth it, but that if they wrong you — no matter how soft and cute you are — there will be hell to pay. Make sure they know that you’re worth it, though, because you are.


Another adorable member of the flower world, these yellow fucks look like a child’s drawing brought into life through the will of the sunshine fairies. Even better, buttercups are one of the most helpful flowers to plant in your garden if you’re looking to save the bees. Make sure your significant other knows where they stand in the scheme of things — under the bees. Seriously, do you know how fucked we would be without the bees?  


More specifically, poison ivy is a good way to get rid of a blind date you never wanted but got stuck with because your best friend’s boyfriend lost a bet with his nasty friend and had to set them up with somebody. Why you? Because they think you can take it. Well you know what, you don’t have to. If we as a society start to use Pavlovian methods to train asshats on the dating scene to associate misogynistic, rude, and otherwise inappropriate behaviour with the hellfire that is poison ivy, we’d be taking one step towards utopia.


Are cactuses the cutest? No. But neither are you when you wake up hungover in your significant other’s bathtub because you thought there was an earthquake and refused to leave the tub for your own safety. Or when you haven’t showered or changed sweatpants in five days and are developing permanent Cheetos stains on your fingers and around your mouth. In a relationship, the goal isn’t always to be cute. Actually, seeing each other at your worst will help you and your date know each other better and better, and learn to live with each other, too. Which is exactly what a cactus says: I enjoy you as a person and hope this relationship endures, please tolerate me despite my prickles.