It's prom season, you know. The Pony's tux has been ordered. The gal's dress has been bought. On Friday, we stopped by the florist on the way home to see about a corsage.
Let the record show that this particular flower shop used to belong to my cousin, mother of our dear Think Tanker Tomato Squirter. Of course the establishment had a name that had nothing to do with our family. It was left over from the previous owners. Because locally, it had name recognition.
Let the record further show that my cousin, as a floral proprietor, was a class act. One of Farmer H's relatives had beat feet on a bill, and when Farmer H got word, he sent me there to pay it. My cousin would not take it from me. "It's not you bill." I insisted. "You have to make a living. We'll make it right." So she agreed to only take her cost, and not the customer markup.
Yes, when you walked into that shop when my cousin owned it, you walked into a tidy little building with crafty flowery planty displays that made me feel like a sweaty farmhand just off the tractor from plowing the south forty. You stepped up to the counter, handed over your debit or credit card, and knew your transaction was complete.
Times have changed.
We went there last year for The Pony's date's corsage. It turned out well. That's the only reason we went back. The place makes me uncomfortable. And not in a sweaty farmhand kind of way. In fact, when I entered Friday, I felt like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Picking her way over cowpies on the north forty.
Okay. There was no cow crap inside the building. But on the front porch, almost blocking the entrance (the door, which was propped open) were three lawn chairs and a pile of cigarette butts. Inside, I saw a cooler with several arrangements. A shelf with four fake arrangements all the same. A sleep 'n' play with a redheaded baby lolling about. An old woman on the phone in front of a computer screen. An old man who asked us what we wanted, then said, "She'll help you after she gets off the phone," pointing to the computer woman before going out on the porch. And another old woman came out of the back room and said, "What are you looking for?"
Seriously. I wanted to turn and run. But that's where The Pony wanted to get the corsage. Because last year's turned out so well.
Hagatha acted like she was doing US a favor. She seemed put out by the whole "you order and I'll make the product and then you'll pay me" concept. She sighed heavily. Numerous times. The Pony said he wanted a corsage. He showed her the gal's dress on his cell phone.
"Most people bring in the dress."
That's news to me. Do girls go buy their own corsages these days? Surely the boys don't get the dress from the girl and bring it in. Funny how last year, The Pony also had a picture of the dress, which was vintage, a colorful print on a black background, and the lady helping us then matched the coral tone perfectly.
This year's dress is blue. Hagatha grabbed a clear plastic tub out from under the counter and plopped it on top. She peeled off the lid. There were no blue ribbon spools in that tub. She sighed like taking her last breath, and drug out another tub. They were not large. About the size of a keyboard, only thicker. This one had two spools of blue ribbon. But they had too much green in them if you ask me. Which Hagatha did not. But I told her anyway.
"I see some ribbon in there that looks like it matches better." I pointed past the wide-eyed baby into the back room where they took us last year, to show us spools of ribbon off that very shelf, before matching last year's coral print dress perfectly.
"That's not corsage ribbon!"
Huh. Hagatha gave The Pony his choice of the two bluish ribbons she had. Then she asked him which prom. He told her, "Newmentia's prom."
Hagatha turned to computer woman, who had just hung up the phone. "Do you think we'll have time?" And back to The Pony. "When do you need it?"
"By the 30th."
She grunted. "Do you want white flowers? Roses or carnations?" I guess the WHITE part was rhetorical. Because I thought The Pony wanted blue flowers to match the dress, with a sprinkling of white, and maybe some purple, which is our school color. The Pony chose carnations. I'm really hoping they put some color into it. Not simply pure white carnations.
Then I saw the stretchy bands on the counter. Like the one The Pony had the corsage made on last year, which is a keepsake for after. "Don't you want one of those kind, Pony?"
"Yeah. Like before."
"Those are extra!" I guess Hagatha thought we were paupers. Or that she didn't want to expend any more effort. She steered The Pony towards two clear bands. A bit more dainty than I can imagine his date wearing. She added up the total. Sold The Pony a boutonniere as an afterthought.
I paid with cash. I learned my lesson last year when I tried to use the debit card, and they were so befuddled. Hagatha added it up on an adding machine. I'm just grateful she didn't use an abacus. It does not give a receipt. She shoved our change and that receipt at us. "Whoever picks it up needs to bring that receipt." Old woman said over her shoulder, "You should have marked it paid." Huh. You can bet I'm hanging onto that receipt.
I dug my heels in to resist the bum's rush. "When can he pick it up?"
"On the 30th! By 11:30 a.m."
We wove our way out and off the wooden porch, past the old man and the butts. I was redistributing my money in my purse before leaving. Hagatha and the old woman piled out the door and plopped on the lawn chairs. They left the redheaded baby inside.
As we drove off, it dawned on me that they had probably thought The Pony was there to buy a corsage for Newmentia's special prom, which was being held the next day.