"The more, the better, has always been my motto." Elizabeth Taylor
I admit it. I am a sucker for roses. (And my bet is that most women are.) I know. It’s a bit like saying I love French fries or money, but there’s something about the damn things that is irresistible. Now, I don’t want to throw history at you and defend myself by saying that some of the most gorgeous women that the world has had the pleasure to know and see wouldn’t leave home without their roses. Cleo (Cleopatra to you) used to routinely spray the sails of her barge with rose water and as one story goes, when she was in the process of seducing Mark Antony, she had her palace floors carpeted and her room filled two feet deep with red rose petals. And we all know what happened to that poor Mark….
So women have surrounded themselves with roses in one way or another for centuries. To seduce and be seduced. But what’s the big deal about this relative of the apple? (Yup, members of the rose family number more than 3,400 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs including apples, pears, berries, peaches, apricots, plums, and cherries.) Well, look closely at a rose and you’ll know the answer. Look at the way the petals are arranged in exquisitely complicated whorls, see how even the palest pink or lemon deepens mysteriously inside each whorl, hinting that it is hugging some enchanting secret. And at the centre, even when the rose is in full bloom, there is a core that never unfurls completely, tantalizing you with the promise that inside there might be something even more gorgeous. Something, the petals coyly whisper in their velvety tongues, that will have to be wooed and flattered (not to mention wined and dined) out into the open and even then, you may or may not get the full story. And no two roses are alike. So no rules, please, expect only the unexpected, each rose choosing for itself how many petals to have, how to arrange them and in what manner to bloom and blush. In other words, every lovely blossom a custom made job - the fragrant mascots of Caprice, created by Nature on her day off, probably after a glass or two of honey mead.
Er, did somebody mutter, “just like a woman…”? Absolutely. Just like a woman – a heady, beautiful bafflement that got Adam kicked out of Eden, destroyed the tapasya of even the mighty Vishwamitra, sunk poor Paris’ ships – all 1000 of them, toppled empires and has generally been the reason for managing to squeeze in both Hell and Heaven right here on Earth. Which means that when you send a woman roses, that’s roughly what you are telling her. That she is this gorgeous, irresistible, enchanting, elusive, sexy goddess-siren-nymph-babe whom you will follow to the end of the world, walk on hot coals for and will her your millions. You get my drift? So, when we say we love roses, what we really mean is we like being sent roses. And let me tell you that as an attention grabber, (and we admit that we are easily distracted) it’s foolproof. So fellas, never mind if your idea of an inspired opening line is a grunt that roughly sounds like, “Er, how about it?” or “Wanna hit the sack?” Never mind if your idea of romance is tinkering around together under the hot, stinky, greasy bonnet of your car, swilling beer. Never mind if you think that poetry is for chaps who tweeze their eyebrows and wear lavender coloured underwear. (Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard all about the Metrosexual Male but you’re not falling into that sissy-trap!) And never mind if she’s a dead ringer for Liz Hurley (oh, alright, Heidi Klum, if you must quibble) and the chauffeur of the guy she’s dating probably makes in a week’s overtime what your 6 months’ salary totals up to. Don’t despair. Just send her a few dozens red rose - long-stemmed, naturally. (With roses, I’m afraid it has to be in dozens.) And then see if you don’t get into her little black book, so what if it’s in the “Call only on Emergency” section.
A word of caution. If you are planning to send her anything more than 2 dozen, (anything less than that and you might send her a plastic fly swatter) check to see if they don’t tot up to a number that’s roughly her age. Because even though it’s the Age of the Older Woman - Liz Hurley is 38, Aishwarya Rai is 30, Naomi Campbell is 33 - you don’t want to look like you’re pointing fingers at something that she might be sensitive about. If it is, then just double the dozens. So the 3 dozens you were planning on become 6 and so on and so forth. That way, you’re nowhere near her age (unless of course it’s the other Liz that you had in mind who’s now a lovely 72) and no woman is going to pass up a man who sends her 6 dozen roses without at least a second cup of coffee.
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve heard the whispers. About diamonds. Girl’s best friend, Marilyn breathily cooed (and she should know a thing or two), Liz notched up at least 150 carats of them over 7 husbands (8 if you count the second walk down the aisle with Richard Burton), Oprah wears them all the time and you’ve trying not to notice the way your ol’ lady pointedly clears her throat every time those pesky de Beers and Nakshatra ads come on. (5000 bucks for that tiny speck of coal, just because they polished it up?!) We know what you’re asking. If you send her 60 roses (she’s 35 …or thereabouts) on that dratted anniversary-birthday-who-the-heck-knows-what that’s creeping up on you, will it pass muster? Er, let me put it this way. She won’t be displeased and it will definitely not be the night when she’ll have a headaches.
Roses are roses. And as eternal a paean to our inner goddess they will remain, here’s the thing. Roses wilt. Diamonds, on the other hand, are kinda forever and we women are rather partial to this “forever” business, especially since men aren’t. Which means, we love you and can’t imagine life without you but we trust you only when you put your mouth where your money is. So roses are lovely but when it comes to the crunch, I guess it will have what Dorothy Parker has to say on the subject…
A Perfect Rose
A single flower he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet--
One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;
"My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose."
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
Roses and Hindi films go way back. Till showing on-screen kissing became legal in --------, it was the close-up of two roses cozying up together which was the favourite way of signaling a smooch! But the two most beautiful and memorable “roses” in Hindi cinema was played by Waheeda Rehman – first in 1957 as the innocently lovely “Gulabo” in Guru Dutt’s PYASA and then in 1957 as the beautiful Rosie in GUIDE. As legend has it, though R.K. Narayanan, on whose book the film was based, disowned the film, he had no complaints with Waheeda's performance, who won the Filmfare Award for this role!
Napoleon's wife Josephine was so besotted by the benefits of rose water – she also considered it a love potion – that she cultivated 250 different types of roses for her daily beauty regimen!
The Chinese (5th century B.C.), extracted oil of roses from plants grown in the Emperor's garden – the Emperor himself had over 600 books about roses! But this oil could only be used by the aristocracy - a commoner found in possession of this oil was put to death!