Saturday, Feb. 21, had already been a great day. The temperatures had reached into the high 40s, the sun was out, extending its warm rays against the residual snow, and Lori and I had just walked Bernie around the neighborhood, arriving in our yard just around 4 p.m.
And then it happened.
The yelling. “No! No!” There was a problem, and, like most, it was probably my fault. Lori was pointing down near our porch. “Look!” I strained to see something, anything. I saw dirt. I squinted more. “My tulips! See? They are coming up!” Just when I had identified a small green dot slightly protruding from the mulch, Lori had moved to other places near the porch.
“The hyacinths! The daffodils! We need more mulch!” This went on for a minute or two while I stood at her side, attempting to offer emotional support. “And the forecast is snow,” she added.
That’s when things took a turn for the worse. There was another discovery: “Rabbits! Darn rabbits! Look how they are chewing the buds!” In short, the world was ending.
For the uninformed, here is what not to say to your bulb-loving spouse:
▪ “Come on. They’re just flowers!”
▪ “They brought this on themselves. It’s sad to see bulbs so confused.”
▪ “They will come back next year. Do know where the remote is?”
▪ “I know how you feel. One time I lost my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.”
▪ “They only bloom for a day. Where is the newspaper?”
▪ “How cool to have flowers in February!
Proper response: “There is a reason for everything. Someday it will be clear to us.” Pause. “But I will call Suburban Lawn and order mulch. Nine dump trucks. And then I’ll hire Toby Tobin so this won’t happen again next year.”
A long time ago, I learned that in the scale of importance, in our home, in descending order, you have children, then the mother-in-law, followed by Lori’s siblings, her high school classmates and then tulips, (pink, then red) and then her garden (tomatoes, kale and other green things not clearly defined, but still in a protected class). Other items: the recipe box, cellphone, phone charger, iPad, iPad charger, Bernie the dog, and whatever game of Words with Friends is underway. I’m just above crabgrass and just below the cat.
The one thing that would shoot me to the top: becoming a master gardener. Ideally one who can also knit a shawl, carve a Thanksgiving turkey, hang Christmas lights, and know “The Notebook” by heart.
For any husband who hopes to avoid a tutorial on alimony, please understand this truism: This is not about tulips. It’s about renewal, farewell to frostbite, welcoming nests and baby birds taking flight, Easter dresses, Easter bonnets, Easter baskets, Easter sandals, Easter photos, malted milk balls, Daylight Saving Time, Southwest Airline flight schedules, dogwoods, Bradford pears, azaleas, allium, green grass, more photos and church schedules, “discussions” over the same, umbrellas, spring cleaning, farmers markets, hooking up hoses, Miracle-Gro, long walks, Ryan Lawn doing something that involves a bill, sweeping out the garage, grilling, weddings, Royals baseball, graduations, babies born, baptisms and Reese’s peanut butter eggs.
Insult tulips and you offend all things motherly. Which means you’re destined for a lonely life surrounded by dandelions.
Freelance columnist Matthew Keenan writes on the first and third Wednesday of the month. His book “Call Me Dad, Not Dude, the sequel” is sold at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Visit his blog at matthewkeenan.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.