I go to my friend, Masha’s, birthday party. Worried about the lack-of-present all the way down the metro (she lives at the end of one of the lines, about 45 minutes from my place; a solid hour away from the Kremlin), I finally decide to stop by one of the flower kiosks and buy some roses. I see some that are not too horrible ($2.50 a pop) and not too romantic (they had an orange-y tinge to them). “Can I have 5 of those, please?” I asked the lady. (You can only bring even numbers of flowers to funerals.)
“These? Why would you ever want that kind of rose? Look, you can get these crimson ones for the same price.”
There is a babushka who had been talking to the woman earlier. She mutters from my elbow: “Oh, yes, those are really nice roses, those are.”
“Sure, fine,” I answer the seller.
“Or you could go with these – these are probably the most romantic.” – “Oh, so romantic, romantic,” the senile old woman repeats. –
“Whatever you suggest is fine with me, really,” I tell the woman.
“Ok.” She picks some out. “Would you like to put them in a…whatever the thing is called…it’s just called a “packet” in Russian?” I nod. Get my roses and my change.
The old woman’s still muttering as I leave the kiosk: “Oh, such beautiful roses. So romantic. She’s going to be so happy. So romantic.”
I haven’t been to Masha’s since last summer, and I actually go into the wrong entrance to her building. It takes me until I knock on the door (which looks EXACTLY the same as hers) on the fifteenth floor and hear a strange man go “Who’s there?” that I realize my mistake. Finally I get to the right apartment, and sheepishly pass over the roses, and don my little Soviet Pioneer boy costume.
It was a costume party. And I was a six-year-old. With romantic roses.
6 months ago