Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nobody Ever Bought Me Flowers

"A boy learns a thing or two in four hundred years," he smartly said, then clapped his hands together.
-- Chloe Neill, Friday Night Bites

"I don't wear boy clothes," I said firmly to my daughter yesterday when she told me, "You have to change into boy clothes," after we walked into my apartment.

They were waiting in the parking lot when I arrived, having driven 750 miles from Texas over two days. They had been there maybe 10 minutes when I drove up after work. All I wanted to do was give them each a big hug.

Trying not to embarass my older daughter, I inadvertently wound up embarassing her, anyway. When they stepped out of the car, the place appeared to them to be a ghetto. And it's no wonder, because the low cost of the apartment allows many who are unemployed a place to live while they can still collect their unemployment benefits, and many of my neighbors don't make much. Since the population of urban Louisville does seem to be mostly black, among whom I have several friends, I can see they must be experiencing a bit of a culture shock.

I took my older daughter to go shopping, but before I did, I changed out of my long skirt and blouse into denim shorts and a sleeveless top, so I could blend in the heat and not embarrass her by being overdressed. It had the opposite effect. She thought I dressed like "trailer trash." Back home, I invited her to inspect my wardrobe before we went out, and showed her what I was wearing to work to see if it would be okay for going out when I get home. While I won't dress male, I won't let my wardrobe stand between us.

Before we went shopping, I called to activate one of the credit cards. They asked me my name and details off the card, and then they asked, "Can I talk to Robert..."

"I sent a name change in over a week ago. Didn't you get it?" After a couple of minutes of silence, she finally returned and I answered questions about personal details that only I would know.

Then at bedtime, my wife and I talked. We talked about how this would probably be the last time we could see each other, how we are going to move on, and she implored me to be safe in my relationships going forward and to try to get a place in a safer neighborhood.

I have a beautiful giant bouquet of fuschia, lavender, purple and green long stem flowers in a heavy vase sitting on my desk. It's the first bouquet anyone has ever given me in 45 years. I used to get jealous every Valentine's Day, because that's all I wanted for myself. Nobody ever bought me flowers. Now, for my birthday, Debbie surprised me with them and started suggesting I take one of the flowers and put in over my right ear. "Why the right ear?" I asked.

"Because left means you're taken and right means you're single," Sandra said next to me.

Debbie also took me out to dinner and bought me a gift. "Okay, I'll marry you," I teased. Wrapped in paper with the images of dogs in hair bows, I found a plush-feeling steering wheel cover.

Tonight, in little over an hour, I'll be home to spend more time with my kids. Wherever they want to go, whatever they want to do, as long as I can afford it, it's my week to give the happy memories before they leave me on Sunday.

One final note. Sophia. I am beginning to prefer Sophia to Sophie now. It feels more feminine and more serious at the same time. "I'm Sophia" just begs to be said more slowly with more of a feminine lilt than "I'm Sophie." I'll leave Sophie for those more intimate moments for now and put on my sophisticated airs.

Hugs and God Bless,


  1. Yes Sophia does sound so beautiful.
    A great name for you.

  2. Still not sure what the collective word should be, a serenade of sophias, a storm of..., an understanding of..., a cloud of...?

  3. Ah flowers, petals to line the heart.

    Sophia, sounding out your name rolls of the lips like chocolate. I think of Italians. Anyway don't be too hard on your daughter and give her time to adjust. Be firm, honest and supporting for her.