Why I Was Scared of Red Roses

Book Discussion

Once upon a time, I was young girl who believed the best thing ever was receiving red roses. They were just soooooooo romantic. Who wouldn't want a bouquet of beautiful red roses? I certainly did. Galilee "Gal" Garner, the main character in Margaret Dilloway's The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, also has faith in roses but for a different reason -- Gal believes roses will change her life.

Gal believes that by breeding roses she has a chance to lift herself out of the life that she's living. It's not that she completely dislikes teaching, but roses are her true passion. If one of her roses could get recognition, maybe she could breed roses full-time and be happy.

It's through roses that Gal realizes not all the people she respects are worthy of her friendship. Learning that another rose breeder betrayed her opened her eyes to the fact that she wasn't the good judge of character she believed herself to be. My story follows that theme.

My first serious boyfriend was a jerk. I kind of suspected he was a jerk, but I was in that teenaged phase where a jerky boyfriend was better than no boyfriend at all. (Ah, the follies of youth.) When my birthday rolled around, he surprised me with a glorious bouquet of red roses and a bracelet. It was far more than I expected him to give me. To be honest, a certain part of me was surprised he even got me anything for my birthday. A little while later I found out why -- he had cheated on me. They weren't birthday roses, they were guilt roses.

bouquet of red roses

Credit: Liz West on Flickr

I'd love to say that he was on the only jerk that gave me red roses, but alas, there were more. That's not to say that all my boyfriends were jerks, but all of the jerky ones had an affinity for gifting red roses when they felt guilty about something.

I was scared of all roses for a long time. I didn't want anyone I was dating to give me roses, but especially not red roses. They were a forbidden flower. I grew up. I got over the jerks. I got over myself. Red roses probably aren't my favorite color of rose, but I've gotten past the fear of them. (Mostly.) My husband, who knows of my checkered past with red roses, prefers to err on the side of caution, though -- he buys me tulips. And not because he's feeling guilty about something.

Today my only real fear of roses is attempting to grow them. I have a wicked black thumb, and I fear my attempts to grow roses would yield a dead rose bush. I think that maybe Gal has helped me get over that fear, and when the plant catalogues start coming this winter, I just might pick out a rose bush. Who knows, maybe it will even be for red roses.

Do you like to receive roses? Do you grow them?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.


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