Sunday, September 25, 2011


(A slightly modified, pg-13 version of article appears on Patch today with the subhead: I’m no longer an Accents With Flowers virgin. This is the original, R-Rated director's cut.)

There’s a store on Church Street that I’ve never been in. By all accounts it looks like a florist. This is mainly because the sidewalk in front of the store has been filled with plants, planters, birdbaths and various other things you might find in front of a flower shop. Also, it has the word “flowers” in its name. I was stalking a new friend the other day and saw her slip in there, so, despite not needing flowers, I decided to follow.

The entryway of the store is filled with little gifty things – indeed, the type of thing you might find in a flower shop. There were a few racks of greeting cards and within the glass counter was a display of fancy chocolates. “Oh, you can get candy and flowers here,” I thought, filing the information away as if I were a Gatsby-era suitor rather than an eating-disordered matron.

I presented myself to my new friend and she was appropriately startled to see me. We’d just had lunch on Church Street the day before and something felt peculiar about seeing her here, exactly 24 hours later.

“Do you come here often?” she said, meaning to the store.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in here in my life,” I said.

“I love this store,” she said, and then just to make sure I understood, “I really love it.”

I glanced around once again and noticed a few odd accoutrements on the display table to my left. There were several small glass vials with cinnamon-infused oil that didn’t seem to “go” with the rest of the display.

“Everything in here is so random!” she said with unmistakable giddiness, and once she pointed it out, it was as if the store transformed into some kind of secret treasure before my very eyes.

Yes, there was a refrigerator full of cut flowers, and yes, there was a glass case of decorated chocolates, but there were also lamps and throw pillows and candles and clothes. In fact, it felt a little like someone had taken American Sampler, Dobbs and Copabananas and smushed them all together into one big eye-candy extravaganza.

I wandered into the adjoining room. Sleepwear, jewelry, handbags, tea sets, linens, kitchenware. Shelves of items that celebrate dogs and cats, including Christmas ornaments hanging on a near-bare tree. Art, books, mirrors, change purses. Blackberry jam. Barack Obama toilet paper.

The actual display layouts are as fascinating as what’s displayed. There was a table with a smattering of novelty g-strings, a journal-type book in which you could record your thoughts about parenting, and then a small stack of Bubba’s Butt Soap. Of course, I was instantly drawn to the Butt Soap. On the back of it, the directions provided simple instruction: “Insert soap bar into crack and move up and down a few times, rinse and repeat ‘til clean.” I tried to imagine that type of package copy being approved in a Proctor and Gamble brand meeting, but faltered.

“I could stay in here all day,” my friend said as she gathered up her purchases and left.

Me, too, I thought, as I went on to discover the Baby Section, the Candy Cane Section, the Naughty Section, the Other Naughty Section and then quietly tried to imagine what it would have been like to actually live in a house decorated in chintz and fringed lamps that look like they should be in a bordello, which is just where I was headed, years ago, before my husband steered me to Stickley.

Eventually, sensory overload set in and I stepped out of nirvana and back into my life. “You can get flowers and butt soap here,” I said to myself as I left – making a mental note of all the upcoming occasions where either – or both – might come in handy.

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