Every year, in honor of the beginning of Spring, Macy's hosts a two week-long store-wide flower show. Now, I generally avoid Macy's and the hoards of fanny-packed non-English-speaking tourists like the plague, but my buddy Rachael talked me into venturing into the fray on Wednesday between shows.
We met on Seventh Avenue and 34th, walked into the first floor fragrance section, and took in the view. Flowers were, literally, everywhere. They were in planters in the middle of aisles, adorning the checkout counters, and spilling over the tops of display racks. Every color, type, and size of flower imaginable was represented and they all looked perfect. These couldn't be real, I thought. I touched the nearest lily. Yep. Real. I asked a nearby woman behind a counter of earrings. Yep. ALL real. Over one million flowers, one week of installation time, and they're all real. I grabbed a brochure and began identifying the different “gardens” (huge planters above display islands). We strolled between the orchid garden, the Asian garden, the topiary garden, and the English cottage garden and eventually came upon the “Bouquet of the Day”. Apparently, every other day, a different floral designer makes a larger than life sculpture of flowers to stand at the crossroads of two major aisles in Macy’s. Today’s was designed by Jerry Sibal and featured red roses, purple hyacinth(s? Or whatever the plural of hyacinth), and magenta butterflies. It was beautiful . . . when it wasn’t obscured by the masses of passing tourists.
And the tourists. The entire block that is Macy’s was so packed with people that at times, we literally could not walk down the aisles of the store. Displays looked more like my sofa after a long day of laundry than stacks of folded clothes prepped for sale. I attempted to keep my gaze upwards and pretend that I was alone (well, with Rachael) and lazily, for lack of a better term, tiptoeing through the tulips. It worked for a short while until I was shoved by a portly Russian woman and her seventeen shopping bags. Reverie obliterated.
That got me thinking. There was something about the whole scene at Macy’s that was really wrong. The peaceful and quiet resplendence of the flowers was juxtaposed with the cheap and gaudy materialistic spectacle that was the sales floor of the biggest department store in the country. I imagined the personified flowers sadly looking down over the perfume counters, jewelry displays, and general blatant consumerism and spilling a chlorophyll tear. What have we come to folks? Yes, the flowers were pretty. Yes, they brought in a lot of people to buy stuff from the store. And yes, the beauty of one amaryllis cheapened even the most pricey cuff link beneath the Macy’s counters.