I like fresh flowers. I don’t understand why most Western men find buying flowers for themselves an act so pansy-ass, they get their collective panties in a twist. To their credit, I’ve seen some (usually older) men in Tokyo and Hong Kong buying flowers and walking away with a smile. I can tell they’re not a gift because the flowers aren’t wrapped. “You go girl!” I scream as they run away.

My flower lady is butch. True, a lot of women who work in this profession in Hong Kong tend to be butch, but mine is especially butch. Take away the bad perm, coke-bottle glasses and frilly tennis shoes and you’re left with a bald, blind, barefoot middle-age man selling flowers.

I like getting to know my local merchants. And I’m a big supporter of the smaller mom and pop stores. Why buy your bananas at a soulless supermarket when you can get them at the neighborhood, open-air fruit market? Why buy your wine at a generic grocery store when you can get your wine at the local Italian bodega or Australian wine shop? Why buy your overpriced flowers from those dead-eyed Filipinas at Great Food Hall when you can get your fresh flowers and the stand near your home?

So once a week, I visit my flower lady. She loves me, respects me. I think it’s because when I first starting going to her, I’d ask her how much things were and then wouldn’t buy anything. Then I would. And then I wouldn’t. When we’d walk by her, my partner would lament, “Why don’t you just buy them here!?”

“Because I don’t want to get taken.”

I was a slutty flower buyer when we first arrived, giving it up for the freshest junk at the cheapest price. I had no loyalties. But this is how you find your shop. You shop around. And like Anne Heche dropped down on Ellen, I landed on my butch flower lady.

Now I buy from her all the time. She gives me deals, discounts and knows my likes and dislikes. Not too fragrant, no messy stems, clean serenity, preferably white unless they’re tulips, and absolutely no mixed bouquets. Mixing is for people and cakes, not for flowers and bouquets.

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