Lisa Corva

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Bon ton reloaded: can a woman send flowers to a man without disgracing herself?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 @09:10

Let’s face it, we live in a world where men don’t send flowers any more (especially husbands). And, in any case, we’ve absolutely forgotten the language of flowers: that’s why Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s book, "The language of flowers", was such a bestseller. And that’s why I asked her – well, she’s an expert, isn’t she? - which flowers would she send to a man.

"It depends on who the man is: father? Son? Boss? Husband? Lover? The flowers for each of these men would be different. I like to give my husband Bellflower (gratitude) and he most often brings me Tulips (declaration of love)".

Which flowers symbolize your life? You’ve declared that you would choose Heliotrope (devoted affection), Black-Eyed Susan (justice), Hawthorn (hope), Liatris (I will try again), Lisianthus (appreciation), and Moss (maternal love). But the good thing about flowers is that one can always change the bouquet…

"Yes, I think those flowers best symbolize my long term goals and vision for my life. However, lately I have been obsessed with Asters (patience). I am writing a new novel and raising children, and both require intense amounts of patience. I like purple asters especially, and put them in little clear glass canning jars all over my house".

Do you have a bag, a dress, a shirt with a flower print you particularly like?

"My husband just bought me a new dress that I love. It’s black with yellow and orange flowers creeping up from the hem to the waist line. The flowers are bright and a bit abstract—which is good! Since I can’t tell exactly what they are, I don’t have to worry about what message they are sending".

By the way, the last time I sent flowers to a man I chose blue hyacints: I love the smell. Roses, somehow, didn’t seem appropriate. Now, after reading the book, I checked out the meaning, fearing a misunderstanding, and discovered, with relief, that hyacints mean sincerity and constancy. Exactly what I meant. But honestly, what did the man understood? Probably he was too perplexed or shocked to wonder. Pleasantly shocked? That’s it: nobody knows the secret language of flowers anymore, as nobody understands love’s new rules. So, if you love flowers, just give flowers. It can’t be that bad.

So, what would Simone de Beauvoir do?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 @14:03

A friend arrives on the island where I spend my summers, with a fat, bulky book: the letters Simone de Beauvoir wrote to Nelson Algren, the love of her life (and no, I’m not talking about Sartre, of course), the Chicago writer who inspired her most sensual pages, and the heartbreakingly beautiful chapter of "Les Mandarins". A chapter which is a novel itself, a short story, a love story – their love story. It all began in 1947, in post-war America; a time when lipstick and stockings were still a luxury, when love across the ocean meant waiting weeks for a letter. No cell phones, no e-mails, just raw desire.
What a vintage reading for a 30something old girl, I think. I haven’t read Simone since my twenties, when I was madly in love with a man who lived on the other side of the ocean, as Simone. And my new friend is in love too, with one of my oldest friends, a man she came to meet, here on the island.
So what would Simone do?, I ask her. I do ask her, because although we have everything we need - deep blue sea, mediterranean bliss, a man we love (who, luckily, isn’t the same) - we don’t have an answer. At least I don’t, I don’t have an answer for her, I can’t predict if this man will love her back. Love, love is unpredictable.
So what would Simone do? She would just love. She would not renounce to love, and at the same time she wouldn’t renounce to be herself.
I’m not sure if this is what she tried to pass on to us, a new generation of women, of reloaded "filles rangées" – but this is what I’ve learned.

(And, by the way, I’m not sure she would approve of Vanessa Paradis starring as herself, with Johnny Depp as Nelson Algren, in a movie about their love affair - the director will probably be Lasse Halstrom, who directed Chocolat. But we’ll see. Even movies are unpredictable, as love).


Lisa Corva

Yes, I write. Yes, I believe in the magic of words. That’s why you’ll find me here, every Friday: Lisa “globish”!

I believe in the magic of words, and I believe Piazza Unità in Trieste, where I was born, is the most romantic square in the world. (And yes, it’s in Italy, proudly facing the sea). I love roses in every form. And, of course, I do love my blog, expecially now that I can carry it around on my iPhone.