Over the past week, Philadelphia, the city of steaks and the cheeses who love them, hosted the most venerable indoor flower show in all the land. That is, it had been the most venerable flower show in all the land until this year when somebody decided that what would really propel the event into the 21st century was a man-cave installation, complete with video golf, beer on tap, and upholstered recliners arranged according to late-Pleistocene specifications.
Times have changed since 1829 when people would be more than happy to emerge from the fog of scarlet fever that hung over their homes to look at a Conshohocken gardener's flowers, a fact no one is more painfully aware of than Drew Becher, the hip new president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. "We cannot just have exhibits," he said to NPR's Peter Crimmins, "and [have] people come to look at exhibits. That's old-school." Becher believes with endearing naivete that his flower show is competing for an audience with 3-D movies, flirtatious Philadelphia sports teams, and Netflix, so he's made the flower show exhibits into interactive set pieces, some of which actually sound pretty cool. The exposition's theme this year was "Hawaii: Islands of Aloha," and despite its lame, pandering name, it featured a small tropical jungle, a waterfall that visitors entered under, and bit-mapped digital projections of sea creatures dancing on a wall of orchids. Said Ginger Schaeffer, who was surprised by the flower exposition's grandeur, "I though it was just going to be tables of flowers and different things."
Not with Drew Do-You-Dare-Me-To-Tongue-Kiss-This-Venus-Flytrap Becher running things. He made sure that the flower show had everything, including a bunch of stuff that wasn't flowers. The man-cave diorama was geared specifically towards those husbands whose wives somehow coerced them into spending a pleasant day briefly outdoors and then right back indoors, and wasn't so much an exhibit for looking at as it was a daycare center for sedentary men, including one charming gentlemen who explained from his sofa perch that he'd brought his wife to the flower show for her birthday and turned her loose to have fun all by herself.
Maybe if he didn't want to be inconvenienced, he could shell out some extra money and buy his wife her own personal greenhouse, that way, they wouldn't have to trek into the city every time they wanted to spend the day doing entirely different things. Congratulations, man-cave, on slowly realizing H.G. Wells's Time Machine future by dividing the genders into two distinct species: mole people and sun people.