Today was yet another reminder that my understanding of myself remains in its infancy.
Walking through Dublin City Centre, I blended in with all the others. Men and Women busying themselves, walking to work, just as I was. No one looked at each other, we remained occupants of our own minds while sharing a physical space for a period of time. I spotted a man selling flowers, just across from The Spire. It was in this moment that I remembered it was my mother’s birthday the following day.
After work, I returned to cluttered streets to buy flowers. My mother’s favourite flowers are Lillies, so I bought lilies. While my knowledge of floral varieties and arrangements is as small as my number of purchases of flowers over the years, I do know this; my mother’s favourite flowers are lilies. Now the fact that these flowers are lilies or that they are my mother’s favourite are irrelevant, what is noteworthy is the inexplicit feeling holding these flowers instilled in me.
Now meandering my way through a not dissimilar crowd as the morning, I received many a look from the passing strangers. Suddenly I was no longer the Kevin I had been up until this point, now I was a reinvention. A man walking through the metropolis with a bouquet in hand suggests a great deal of scenarios none of which I will ever be apart of. I became a man who was treating his girlfriend. I became a man who was buying a gift for his girlfriends birthday. I became a man who fucked up and was apologising to his girlfriend. I say, girlfriend because my age still gives some realism to my true character and it would be highly improbable that a man my age would have a wife or fiance in 2017 Ireland. Now it is entirely possible that a number of other scenarios entered the minds of the passing strangers in their 0.01-second analysis of me, such as the flowers were in fact for my mother or sister or female relative. However, I hypothesise that these notions would only follow the girlfriend scenarios in our cultural thinking.
The fact of the matter is, is that for a brief moment of time I felt normal.
The fleeting opinions of strangers and the innate understanding that men buy women flowers as a romantic gesture lead me to walk confidently through the streets of Dublin as a supposed heterosexual man. This raises a number of issues.
Men do not receive flowers. I have grown up with the typical gift in a marriage being alcohol or flowers. I would graciously and gleefully accept the former but in all honesty, I don’t know what I would do if I was given the latter. It is not that I would feel emasculated, I would simply be at a loss having no precedent upon which to base my reaction. To the best of my knowledge, my father has never received flowers, although he has never complained about their presence in the home. In fact, he admires their smell as have I, yet neither one of us would ever think of buying flowers for ourselves or each other. Men do not receive flowers is a side effect of the male’s role in society which is a much larger issue and would require more than this blog post.
Men do not buy their boyfriends flowers. This follows on from the typical ‘who pays for dinner debate’. When society adapted to homosexual relationships and the customs associated with dating, it could be argued that the role of the man shifted. Now, who was to pay for dinner? The male’s role is to buy flowers, open the car door, pay for the meal and a kiss goodnight. In a nutshell, this is the procedure of dating, however as we know this is outdated. Yet the exchange of flowers was left in the past.
My argument is not that men should be drowned in roses and daffodils. My argument is that for a brief moment in time, I lived the normalities of a heterosexual male and judging by the looks from those around me, I was more attractive. Not in appearance, although the speckled babies breath in the bouquet did highlight my cheekbones, from my interpretation I was approved by society. I was, ironically, more masculine for carrying the flowers. What is perhaps more startling for me, is that I felt more comfortable in public than I would have if I had been holding another man’s hand. With that, the battle to discover the masculine homosexual continues.