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I prefer succulents, thanks.

Giving and receiving red roses on Valentine’s day is as classic as you get. Annie Keig explains why we should stop this weird ritual.

The concept of exchanging doomed plant genitalia has always confused me. Why would I want to receive twelve flower hoo-has? Why would I want to put them in my house and watch them die? It’s not a good metaphor for true love, you know?

Let me explain. 

When I, the giver, initially gift this symbol of my affection to you, they are vibrant and they smell divine. If we take these flowers as a symbol for the relationship, we might call this the ‘honeymoon phase.’ As you let them languish in your house and in your life, they’ll start to fade. First, some of the bigger blooms will droop slightly — but not enough for you to notice (maybe your loved one burps more than is strictly necessary), but the blooms are still beautiful, so you keep them for a while. A few days later, the thinned out bouquet loses its scent. The flowers (and the relationship) start to fade into the background of your everyday life. The novelty is gone, and every time you look at them you kick yourself for not having tossed them yet. Date nights become a chore that interrupts your much-needed relaxation time. 

If you leave the flowers in the vase too long, the telltale scent of water logged plant matter starts to leach into the surrounding air. One day you turn around and look at your once sweet smelling bouquet (or partner), and you notice that its crusty, droopy dander is all over your living room. You’ve got to throw it out — as you always knew you would. Flowers tossed, relationship over — inevitability smells like old roses.

I find roses as a symbol of love drastically outdated. Really poorly thought out. Frivolous, even. If the love of my life is going to get me ANY plant life for Valentine’s Day as a symbol of our love, they had better wise up and get me a cactus. That’s right, a cactus. A cactus says, ‘I’m in it for the long haul.’ A cactus says, ‘I want to add something resilient to your life.’ A cactus says, ‘I admire things that are prickly AND beautiful, so the fact that you get mildly murderous when you’re hungry is actually a plus in my opinion.’  So if any of you folks out there have a partner that gives you roses, kick them to the kerb. Throw them and their rosebuds directly into the compost heap. Find yourself someone who gets symbolic gestures and gets YOU a drought resistant, spiky on the outside but sweet (and possibly psychedelic) on the inside cactus for this February 14th.

Other, possibly more legitimate, reasons to think twice about those 12 red roses: 

  • Labour laws and fair trade 
  • Transport costs
  • Imperialism
  • Climate change 

Annie Keig is a freelance writer and brand new Wellingtonian. With a taste for travel, earth sciences, and Sweet Mother’s Kitchen’s ‘Moose’ mac and cheese, she hopes to plumb the depths of this multifaceted city one layer at a time.

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