The Purple Rose (or, My Own Worst Critic)

Chaos in Print

I love being back in Entwistle. There were times back in Japan when I would scream at being surrounded by so much concrete and steel. But, back in Entwistle, I find it is so easy to just go for a walk, take three steps, and suddenly find myself back in the middle of the forest. The fresh air, the greenery, I love it. I did a lot of walking in Japan, but it all tended to be through the city streets. It drove me nuts quite a few times. But now, I try to go walking down through the woods as often as I can.

The other day was just such a day. I strolled down the pathways that I had walked since I was a child. I can walk down most of them with my eyes closed, but then I miss the view. I had ventured close to the Pembina River and I watched the lovely brown waters of my youth flow down the bend. I heard a rustling in the bushes. I always here a rustling, and it gets me paranoid. I sped up my pace ever so slightly. I was passing a wild rose bush, and that’s when I spotted something odd. One of the roses was purple.

Oh, now this is getting interesting. A purple rose. Could be a symbol. Maybe you’re trying something new with this one.

I took a moment to ponder this purple rose and continued on my way.

Oops, I guess not. Stick with what works, eh?

But something about that purple rose drew me back. I bent in close and stared into its petals. They were of such a deep hue, almost black. The centre of the flower was of the deepest shade of yellow, like the yolk of an egg. To stare into this was though I was staring into the depths of infinity. And it had the most peculiar sent. It was a blend of fresh strawberries and the world after a rain.

Wow! I guess it is a symbol. You’re trying to get artistic on us. So, let’s see here. It’s obvious that the centre of the flower represents human life, what with the colour being that of the yolk of an egg. We all know that life begins in an egg. The darkness of the petals obviously represents the universe. The flower, then, has become a symbol of how life is the centre of the universe. A somewhat…pedestrian symbol, but at least you’re trying to stretch a little.

I was entranced with this flower. I could stare into its infinite divinity for hours. I knew I had to take it home with me. I reached out for it. I was going to pick it and take it home with me.

A ha! Here we go! Life is at the centre of the universe, and now the speaker sees that he holds the fate of the universe within his hands! He alone holds the key to destroying life or preserving it. It’s a war allegory. It’s all been done.

I wrapped my fingers around the stem. The thorns from the rose dug deep into my flesh.

And now the author sees what the effects of war are. He learns a valuable life lesson. And knowing is half the battle. How amateurish.

I pulled my hand back in shock. The pain was unbearable. But I knew that the purple rose must be mine. How was I to snatch it without feeling the pain? I pulled the sleeve of my jacket up over the palm of my hand and tried again.

Such perseverance in the face of adversity. Obviously, the speaker is a slow learner. Wait a minute. I forgot the flower’s scent! Of course! It smelled of strawberries, which has been a symbol of love and romance for as long as people put pen to paper! And a rain scent always symbolizes the “newness” of the world. And he just returned from Japan! It’s not a war allegory! The rose is a symbol of hoping to find love with this fresh start in life! He’s trying to capture the heart of the woman he desires and he’s willing to sacrifice the pain to get her! Still rather lame, though.

The thorns managed to rip though my jacket and pushed even deeper into my flesh. The pain was unbearable! I closed my eyes and saw the infinity of the heavens open up. My God…the colours were overwhelming! Red…blue…green…all crashing together in a Sea of Stars to produce a blinding white. I heard the music of the spheres as the pain ripped through my body. The ground beneath me began begin to swallow up my feet and the surrounding foliage reached out their tentacle leaves to me. The pain in my body slowly gave way to pleasure, and through it all, the Orange Lizard laughed.

OK, now you’re just getting weird.

I tightened my grip and ripped with all my might! The rose must be mine! The mix of pain and pleasure intensified as I tugged with all my might.

I don’t want to get into what that symbolizes.

There was a sudden snap as the stem gave way. The feelings subsided. I let out a sigh as the last of the feelings left my body. I was satisfied. The colours of the rose began to fade somewhat. But it still managed to retain its beauty. I knew I had to get this home and put it in some water.

They’re never going to like it, you know.

I walked through the woods with a renewed spring in my step. The world seemed to have a new brightness that I never noticed before. The air smelled fresh and sweet. Yes, sir, things were looking up!

I mean, all this symbolism with the rose? Who are you trying to fool? “Oooo, look at me! I’m a big artist now! Look at how I made picking a rose sound like fucking!” Get over yourself.

Hush up! We should encourage him when he tries something new, no matter how weak the effort is.


I looked up to see some clouds rolling in. A distant rumble sounded somewhat like lightening. A storm was coming. I quickened my pace. The rustling of the bushes became stronger as the wind started to pick up. I knew I had to get home. I felt the first few raindrops tickle my ears.

The rose as a symbol of love. What, do you have the McLaren Symbol Dictionary lying around? You probably just flipped it open to love and saw, “Rose, Heart, Banana,” and opted not to use banana for fear people would think you’re gay. But then, with all that “pain turns to pleasure talk,” we know that you obsess over sex quite a bit. Either that, or you just left dictionary under your bondage porno mags. “Look at me! I bought books!”

The lightening cracked overhead and the downpour began. Each icy drop penetrated my clothes. I slowed my pace. It was getting more and more difficult to go on. I fondled the rose in my pocket. I saw that it was OK. I kept trudging forward. The ground was slowly turning to mud. With each step, I sunk in up to my ankles. Each time I raised my foot, there was another inch of muck clinging to the bottom. But I knew I had to press on.

“Ooo, look at me! I’m a brave little soldier marching on in the face of adversity!” We all know you’re just doing this for attention, so why don’t you just stop now and go home. Start writing about the strange thing you noticed last time you watched Spider-Man or something like that. You’re just wasting our time.

Would you let up, man? It’s obvious that the rain is a symbol of his depression, be it one of the oldest in the books. So quit dumping on him. He was trying something new and experimental here, and you just went and ruined it.

Oh, so it’s all my fault is it? I say we just stop staring at him so we can all get on with out lives.

I heard a frightening thud on the path behind me. It was a hailstone the size of a grapefruit. “Shit,” I thought. I started running as fast as I could, but it was difficult with all the mud that was on the ground. There was another thud, this time on the path ahead of me. I had to get home. I had to protect the rose! There was a crack as another hailstone split a branch from a tree. My heart pounded faster as the hailstones started falling. I soon heard a horrid, meaty thunk as something struck me on the head. I was hit. The pain was unbearable.

Ooo, it’s not going to turn to pleasure this time?

I fell to my knees. I reached up to my head. There was a tremendous pain as my fingers felt the wound. I pulled away my hand to see it covered with a crimson goo. I stared at the blood on my fingers. Another hailstone hit me in the chest, and I was down on the ground. With my last remaining strength, I pulled the rose from my pocket so I could get one last glimpse.

“Ooo, look at me! I’m dying!” Is there any more pathetic cry for attention? I think I saw this TV movie. Isn’t he supposed to pull his cell phone out of his pocket and call for someone to save him? Go on. Die. We don’t care. Get yourself out of this mess, Mr. Middle Child Syndrome.

That’s it, I’ve had enough of you. If you’re not going to offer any constructive criticism, then just shut up.

Make me.

I’m walking over there!

Fine, fine. I’ll keep my mouth shut. But we simply have to stop giving him what he wants.

Let the guy finish his story! He’s trying very hard to be an artist here, and he really doesn’t need you.

The thuds stopped. It looked like the hailstorm was over. But it was too late for me. The rose fell to my chest. I heard more thuds, but this time, they were a lot fainter. It sounded more like footsteps. It was painful, but I drew a breath into my lungs. “Help me!” I murmured out.

Duex et machina, eh? Well, I guess it gets the job done.


The footsteps got closer as the person began running towards me. “Help,” I managed to say louder. I could faintly hear the footsteps getting closer. I looked up, and that’s when I saw her.

Her? Oh, this isn’t going to be another of your virgin laments, is it? Or are you still pining for what’s-her-name from university?

She was a vision of loveliness standing before me. Her fiery red hair gently caressed the tops of her shoulders. Her green eyes locked with mine and, for the second time that day, I saw infinity. She was wearing a simple white shirt and a plaid miniskirt. She knelt over my body. “Are you all right?” she asked.

White shirts? Plaid miniskirts? Obviously your time in Japan left you with a schoolgirl fetish. I didn’t think you were the kind to be so wrapped up in the physicality of a relationship.

“I think I’m OK,” I said, as I got up to my feet. “What are you doing out here?”

“Well, I like to seek out solitude as I work on my latest version of the unified field theorem. I was sitting in that glen just over there. I was taking a break to analyze some of the works of Dickenson when the storm hit. Fortunately, I was able to construct a crude shelter made of logs to protect me.”

All this and brains, too. So I guess you do have some appreciation for all things intellectual. But still, don’t overreach.

I got to my feet, but I was still a little woozy. I stumbled forward, and she caught me. “Oh, you poor dear!” she said. “You have massive head trauma. We’d better get you back to my cabin. Lucky for you, I’m a doctor.”

So she’s a physicist, English professor, engineer, and doctor? You’re really trying to hard, now.

“Did I say doctor? I mean nurse. I didn’t quite have what it took to be a doctor.”

A nurse? How male.

“Ooo, look at me! I’m picking up a nurse dressed like a schoolgirl!”

It’s obvious to anyone that this nurse character represents the caregiver universal to all of us.

I leaned on her for support and we limped to her cabin. It was adjacent to the glen where she was studying. She laid me down on her bed and went to get her medical supplies. She returned carrying a doctor’s little black bag. She began bandaging up my head. “That takes care of that,” she said, “Now, I’m going to have to take a closer look at your chest. Take off your shirt, please.”

Oh, jeez. You’re actually turning this into soft-core porn? What happened to you?

“Ooo, look at me! I’m getting lucky!” I guess you found a bigger cry for attention than killing yourself: banging a big-breasted schoolgirl nurse.

He didn’t say she’s big-breasted.

Oh, it’s implied, honey. It’s implied.

She tore of my shirt with such an animalistic passion. She leaned in to kiss me, but I turned away. “I’m sorry,” I said. “We just met. I…can’t do this.”

“I think I have some medication that can help,” she said.

“No. It’s not that. I’m just not ready to do this unless I know that I love you. That, and I think I’ve still lost a lot of blood.”

Thank God. Look, I’ve read a lot of your articles. It’s obvious that you show some sensitivity. Instead of just sitting here, why don’t you go out, meet some people? Trust me, it’s a lot more fun to do than talk about.

What, are you saying you’d do him?

I only love him as a friend.

Actually, I know what he’s saying here. “Ooo, look at me! I’m turning down sex! I’m an idiot! Look at the idiot! Let me do my idiot dance for you!”

You’re a pig, you know that?

Oh, be quiet the both of you! Don’t you see what’s going on here? He mentions that he’s lost a lot of blood. Blood has forever been a symbol of the life force. This woman is a nurse; a caregiver. Who’s the one caregiver we all have in our lives? Our mother. The speaker is obviously stating how his mother sucks the life force out of him. It’s all very Freudian.

OK, now you’re just being weird.

“I understand,” she said. She got up from the bed and moved to put her clothes.

“But wait,” I said. I knew that this day would forever be in our hearts. There had to be something I could give her to remember her by. I reached into my pocket and gave her the purple rose. “Take this, so you’ll always be able to look back.”

Aww. See, you can be very sweet.


Now that’s just uncalled for. The truth is, as previously established, that the rose represents the young man’s sexuality.

So, are you saying they did it after all? “Ooo, look at me! I’m not a virgin anymore!”



She looked down at the rose in fascination. She had never seen anything like it before. “This is…wow. I just don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll be here, always. I’ll come back for you, someday.” But I knew I could never come back. For, she would never be able to replace her. Besides, she’d just turn me down in the end.

*sigh* There you go again. You keep whining about how you want a life-mate and all that but you’ll never get one unless you let go of the memory of what’s-her-name. See, you have a woman right here, throwing herself at you…

…which you’ve obviously constructed to be your ideal…

Don’t interrupt. And you’re turning her down. You need to have a little more confidence in yourself. Trust me, chicks dig confidence. Grow a pair of balls.


I’m inclined to agree this time.

I got up and moved towards the door. “Don’t go,” she pleaded. “I must give you something to remember me by.” She disappeared into the other room. I paced with nervousness. What could she possibly have for me? She came back out with a box. “This belonged to my grandfather,” she said. “You remind me of him.”

So, I see Freud came back.

What’s wrong with a guy that reminds a girl of her grandfather?

Oh, nothing…if she can afford the therapy.


I don’t know what he’s getting, but something tells me it’ll be big and gaudy and make him the toast of the town.

Look, I don’t think he’s out here screaming for the world to look at him.

Oh, really? Then what’s up with all this “I want a girlfriend” crap? He’s just out to get a private audience.

You honestly don’t think that he just wants someone to share his life with?

What life? Do you think his parents really want another person living in the basement? “Ooo, look at me! I live with my parents!”

“Ooo, look at me! I mock the author and start every sentence with ‘Ooo, look at me!'”


Now, calm down, everyone. Let’s just take another look at what’s going on here. She’s containing her gift in a box, which is a clear representation of her…

How come it all comes down to sex with you people?

Because nudity gets you looked at.

I was going to say her barriers around her soul, and that the gift is the part of her that she’s never shared with anyone else. Perhaps, her heart.

So he gives her the rose, which is the symbol for sex, and she returns with this gift, which is the symbol for her heart?


So he gets laid and in return she pledges her undying love?


That’s so high school! What is this, some English 20 project?

That’s just one possible interpretation. You know, we won’t know for sure until we find out what the gift is. Hell, her gift could be a banana for all we know.

And we all know what that represents.


I thanked her for the gift, put it in my pocket, and went home a man.

What, that’s it?


So what was the gift?

Wow. I never saw that coming. That is…wow.

What? What?

“Ooo, look at me! I confused the audience!” I’m surprised the Orange Lizard didn’t come back.

I think it all comes down the fact that for a relationship to be healthy, a certain degree of mystery must be maintained.

That’s a good guess…but no.

So, enlighten us.

Isn’t it obvious? By keeping the gift unknown, we are left to figure out what it was!

So…it was a banana?

If you believe it to be a banana.


No no. I get it. Since the box was the container of the soul, she gave him her soul. They are soul mates.

That’ s not it. He’s saying the gift is in our minds.

Nah. He’s saying, “Ooo, look at me! I’m…doing stuff and…I got a present for doing it!”

Running out of material, are we?

So, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying we all have the gift to give.


Then what is the gift?

It’s in our heads.

The gift is our intellect, then?


No no. It is something more guarded and personal than intellect.

It all goes back to the rose, people. The gift is our sexuality.

So, you’re saying she gave him another rose?

No. She gave him a banana. He went home a man, remember? “Ooo, look at me! I’m coming out of the closet!”

There are other symbols of sexuality, you know. It could have been a donut. Or Jell-O.

How is Jell-O sexual?

Haven’t you read this guy’s early work?

IT WASN’T SEXUAL, PEOPLE! The rose was his heart, and her gift was…I don’t know. A pine seedling.

What the hell does that represent?

Well, the planting of a tree could be representative of a new life…. The pine seedling could be his marriage. A new life together.

Exactly. He turned down hot, sweaty monkey love, began a new life, and went home a mature individual. A man.


No, he doesn’t. It takes real maturity to do something like this. I applaud him.

That’s an insightful analysis, but, probably wrong.

Oh, really, then, well, if you’re so enlightened tell us: what was the author’s intent?

It was art for art’s sake.

What the hell is that?

It was an abstraction. He threw together so many symbols in a chaotic collage so as to leave it completely open to interpretation. That, or, he just crammed everything together to try and make everyone think he’s smarter than he really is.

I was right. “Ooo, look at me! I’m an artist!”

No, it’s not that entirely. I think there was more going on. I mean, let’s also remember the Orange Lizard. Once we throw that into the mix…of course! It’s all so obvious now.

Then, please. Share.

Haven’t you figured out what he was trying to say?


NO! He’s just an artist…

…desperately crying for attention…

…from a girlfriend!


Uhh, I don’t get it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.