The Flower Shop

“I only just learned how to send an email, like, two weeks ago.”  She looks flabbergastedly proud.

I’m talking to Leslie.  Leslie works at a place I used to work, at a place that I worked for three years throughout high school.  Leslie works at the flower shop.  I’ve gone back to the flower shop (at which I spent three formative years of my life) to buy tomato plants, because apparently in New England, this is the weekend when you put tomato plants in the ground.

This is Memorial Day weekend.

Leslie is probably in her late fifties, early sixties, but she looks exactly the same as she did when I was 15.  Her hair is still gray and curly.  The gap in her front teeth (more prominent than mine by a mile) hasn’t gone anywhere.  Her skin barely shows a wrinkle.  She still talks over you the whole time you’re conversing.  Leslie is a person who, while I worked there, I despised for her pettiness and her haughtiness.  She hasn’t changed much in that regard, either.

So we’re talking about the “Information Highway,” and I’m nodding along, because I don’t really care.

“What I like to do is sit back with coffee or a glass of wine and read the newspaper.  In Print!” she snorts.  We’re talking, more specifically, about the decline of the publishing industry as print gives way to online news content.  I agree with her–“I like to read the newspaper in print, too, Leslie”–but her insistence on the virtues of remaining a Luddite don’t ring true.

She says, for example, that her favorite New York Times columnist is Tom Friedman.

I interrupt, “I hate that mother–”

“Oh really?  Why is that?”

“–fucker.  I mean, first of all he was an Iraq–”

“Well, yes, but he–”

“–War hawk from the get-go,” I finish as she interrupts.

“But he was the guy who said, ‘Hey, look, if we’re going to start a war in Iraq we need to finish the job,'” she counters.

I don’t mention the Friedman Unit, or the “Suck on this” incident, because really, why bother?  Okay, Leslie, you like Tom Friedman, you work at a flower shop, and you don’t know how to use the Internet.  Great.

She also likes David Brooks.  He’s “reasonable” and “articulate.”

Great, again.

I don’t bother to enumerate the sins of David Brooks for her, either.  I don’t need to.  I would tell her to Google “Sadly, No Bobo,” but she doesn’t know how to use Teh Google.  I would tell her that there are vastly better ‘conservative’ writers out there–I do, in fact, mention Andrew Sullivan–but she probably won’t bother.  For Leslie, her ilk, too many of her generation, the Internet is a game played beyond the scope of Reality.  It’s Virtual Reality.  It doesn’t merit the same erudition and sophistication that Reality does, and it is instead ignored, belittled, and wished away by Real People.  We, you and I, the people who read blogs, and send email, and push mouse buttons to hyperlinks that take us half-way around the world?  We are faking it.

I find some tomato plants when Leslie has to tend to a customer.  They’re all generic GM starts.  I pick up three flats, pay, and drive home.

Nothing is accomplished.  Usually, nothing needs to be.


4 responses to “The Flower Shop

  1. Okay, I’m not trying to be a prick here, but you’ve kind of villainized poor old Leslie… As much as she doesn’t fit with your ideals (nor can she adequately defend her own, at least not when it comes to newspaper columnists), at least she is reading the NYTimes. Maybe I am a just some dimwit Canadian (who has to go out of his way to buy a hard-copy of ye olde Times), but in my old stomping grounds, a person reading and trying to form an opinion is at least a good start. Okay, call me patronizing. I am most definitely cynical. Maybe they’re just posing, too. But doesn’t her act of reading defy the American flower shop-worker status-quo? (Maybe this would be easier if you had gone to WalMart and had the same interaction?)

    Also: despite having read Thomas Friedman’s columns many times in the past, I’ve not yet formed an opinion on him. I was given a copy of ‘The World is Flat’, and I still plan on reading it. I think his moustache (mustache?) draws people in. He’s like Dr. Phil… or Hitle…

    What I really want to know is: did Snoop Dogg really come to your party at The Fridge? I once saw Snoop Dogg’s tour bus when I was in Miami, and caught a glimpse of the icon himself… no joke.

  2. Matt Taibbi already won any Friedman-related argument:

  3. D, that’s a hell of a review.

    CoolMo, I’m not trying to demonize Leslie. I was more just utterly dumbfounded that the woman admitted to being basically Internet illiterate, before castigating the idea that reading the news on a computer screen instead of in a Laz-e-boy with a glass of wine could be a worthwhile alternative–or even, gasp, a better one. (I didn’t go into all the shit-talking she did, because I didn’t want to demonize her, but let me assure you, she talked mad shit).

    People reading and trying to form opinions are a good start. Liking Tom Friedman and David Brooks means, QED, that if you are “trying” to form an opinion, you aren’t trying very damned hard, because they’re both vapid asshats. For anyone to miss that as they peruse their columns boggles the mind.

    I don’t know what to say about the American flower shop status quo, as I’ve only ever worked at one, and that one was in UnReal America–but I can say that NPR’s always on the radio, which I would doubt to be the case elsewhere (i.e., in Real American Flower Shops).

    Look, I talked shit about Leslie because she presumed to speak authoritatively about a medium that she outright admitted to being ignorant of. I don’t think that’s too harsh. Maybe I should have put more of her shit talk in the piece to justify my tone, but I didn’t, and I can live with that.

    (And, Snoop Dogg wasn’t at the party.)


  4. Aw Fuck! I believed for years that Snoop was at your party. Why do you think I hung out with you so much? It certainly wasn’t to listen to your ongoing abuse of little-ol’-ladies. You’ve just lost all of your cool, Tom.

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