A Rose by Any Other Name
December 1, 2008 by Legal Tease
Even in this crap economy, one heavy with associate layoffs, slashed bonuses, and a general sense of fear leaking through the halls of law firms coast-to-coast, one vestige of BigLaw life still seems to be holding strong. You’re familiar with it, even if you don’t realize it. You’ve seen it before, smelled it before, openly admired it before. Hell, you may even have it on your desk right now. It’s been around as long as the billable hour and not even a recession can kill it: Whore Flowers. And if my firm’s a decent indicator, they’re not going away anytime soon.
As any true BigLaw alum knows, Whore Flowers come in all shapes and colors, but the basics are always the same: They’re ginormous, involve at least two- to three-dozen roses and/or the most expensive/exotic flower currently on the market, include a discreet card no longer than eight words, and are promptly delivered directly to a lady lawyer’s office within 24 hours of an initial sexual romp with a new guy. Whore Flowers are aimed to please the recipient, surely, but they’re really built to impress a bigger audience—and a proper bouquet is guaranteed to inspire swoons (and envy) from every single person who passes her office. Even the cleaning guys.
Of course, not every sexual liaison or casual one-nighter, no matter how intense, results in Whore Flowers. A drunken hook-up in the bathroom of a hotel with some actor-type you just met? Don’t expect the florist to come calling the next day. A drunken hook-up in the bedroom of a hotel with an i-banker you met through friends that night? Hmm, maybe. When it comes to Whore Flowers, there are no bright-line rules—except for the fact that the sender wants to see you again. At least to see if the flowers were worth it.
It’s been weeks since I’ve seen any flowers around my firm, no less Whore Flowers. A fourth-year down the hall from me had a semi-monstrous bouquet crowding part of her desk a couple of weeks ago, but a quick peek into her office revealed the tell-tale box from 1-800-Flowers. Hell no. Whore Flowers don’t arrive in the mail. They arrive by hand. With flourish. (Turns out, the fourth-year’s flowers were a thank-you bouquet from her brother’s ex-girlfriend who’d been crashing on her couch for a week.)
I was starting to think Whore Flowers had gone the way of this year’s bonus pool at my firm—that is, until last Wednesday. Heading back to my office after lunch, I noticed two paralegals standing outside Annelise’s office. Annelise is an associate in my year, double Harvard, in the White Collar Lit group, and has a face that seems to be in perpetual competition with her personality over which is more sour and unappealing. She does have an insanely hot body, though, and last I heard, was single.
Just as I passed her office, one of the paralegals squealed “They’re gorgeous!” and I couldn’t help but take a look. Sure enough, sitting on the most visible corner of Annelise’s desk was an enormous bouquet of what had to be at least fifty pink-tipped yellow roses with buds the size of grapefruits, surrounded by peach hydrangeas and something that looked to be the upper half of a small oak tree. It was dazzling. It was mesmerizing. It had to involve at least four hours of groping and possibly a blow job.
I poked my head in, raised my eyebrows and asked the requisite gating question: “Wow. Birthday?”
She quickly lowered her eyes, pretending to be demure, and looked back up, trying to put on a shy smile that came off more like a scowl. “Nooo…”
Oh, for the love of God. Fine, I’ll bite. “Anniversary?”
“No. They’re just…from a friend.” She looked down again and tried to make herself blush. Yep, Whore Flowers. Confirmed.
Worse, seeing this shrew’s lavish post-coital bouquet reminded me of my recent (and only) (and disastrous) experience with Whore Flowers in the wake of the vodka-inspired debauchery that played out on the floor of my office earlier this year with Ben, my comrade-in-arms and sort-of friend from law school. The flowers arrived the afternoon after the floor episode and I admit, they were stunning. Huge, tropical, and spilling over a vase the size of a file box.
The most stunning part, though, was the card. The one that came with the flowers said simply “Thank you. –Ben” Eh. But then, within minutes of being delivered, I got a frantic call from the florist, who told me in a rush that Ben had ordered the flowers early that morning, but had wanted to change the message on the card after they were already out for delivery. He’d apparently been calling the florist every fifteen minutes to confirm delivery of the new message, which she relayed to me on the spot: “You’re perfect. Thank you for everything. I’m yours, Ben.” At which point, I promptly died. This was a first and I was totally blown away. So this is what it’s like to be with someone who’s not a cheap, immature, emotionally stunted jackass? Someone who actually thinks I’m “perfect”…or at least worth sending flowers to? Not to mention, could I really have been that…good? On a floor? I was melting.
After a couple of hours of knowing looks and comments from anyone who passed my office, I called Ben to thank him. He was humble, sweet, and had to go, but did say that he wanted to see me again as soon as possible. I hung up and melted again, thinking that this might be the beginning of something special. Or at least something interesting. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Ben would turn out to be clinically insane and that my last conversation with him—only a few days after that—would involve him rocking back and forth in his boxers on the floor of a coat closet at a friend’s pumpkin-carving party, drinking wine out of a box and half-slurring, half-sobbing to me into a cell phone. The flowers—vase, card and all—wound up firmly dumped in the trash within a week, and so did any hopes of a relationship with Ben.
But that, friends, is a story for another post.
In the meanwhile, the next time you find yourself jealous of some exotic rainforest grazing a smug, blushing associate’s desk, remember: Whore Flowers may seem flattering, may seem like a badge of pride, sexual prowess and desirability, but as I learned the hard way, they don’t count if they’re given to you by a crazy person—and they’re usually more trouble than they’re worth. I guess that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though. After all, they don’t call ’em Whore Flowers for nothing.