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Twelve Roses

red rose (5)

Three weeks ago, while having a few pints at the pub, a friend blurted out, ‘I should totally set you up with my mom.’


‘You guys have a lot in common’

Blank stares from the rest of the table.

‘Errr, never mind that came out wrong.’


A week passes and it’s my friend’s birthday. We all go out for drink. He is drunk. He starts to bring up his mom again and it soon becomes a joke among everyone at the party. He keeps suggesting I get together with his mom then laughs about it, but sometimes he leans in and whispers, ‘No, but seriously you guys have a lot in common.’

His mom is coming from Argentina to visit in a week’s time and he wants me to come meet her. I jokingly tell him, ‘Sure, I’ll go. I’ll also bring a single red rose for her.’

‘Okay, just make sure it’s organic.’

‘Dude, I was joking.’


Another week passes and he invites myself plus two female friends out to dinner with his mom.

‘And don’t worry. I already told her that I was trying to set you two up. She asked me how old you were and said you were too young, so maybe we should just drop that joke.’

‘I’ve been saying that all along.’

‘Right, well just don’t bring the red rose, that’d be too weird now. Seriously.’


The big day arrives and I meet his mom. She’s nice and we actually do have a lot in common—at one point we compare tales of tear gassings in Ecuador. Everything is going well. It seemed that weird I-want-you-to-be-my-stepdad theme had passed.

But what no one else knew was that I had a single red rose hidden inside my jacket. An hour into dinner, I silently take out the rose and hold it over the center of the table. Everyone stops and stares. I pretend to be nervous and unable to talk, just stuttering and making false starts with words, drawing out the moment and building the tension.

Eventually I give the rose to one of the other girls at the table, but those sixty seconds or so, holding everyone’s attention with the anticipation of approaching awkward was perfect.

This story has a post script. I had to buy a dozen roses since the vendor I went to only had a smaller variety and did not sell them individually. So I had eleven more roses at home without a purpose. The evening after the big dinner I put the eleven in a bag with duct tape, paper and a pen and walked around my complex (university students) and the one next door (council housing). I randomly tapped the roses on people’s front doors with a note. Most simply said ‘You are loved,’ but a few had stranger messages or pictures like, ‘I was drunk last night,’ alongside a picture of a rainbow and stick figure.

I’ve never had so much fun with a dozen roses.

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