The Flower Family, as a whole, is a bunch of Debbie Downers. For us, it's never a question of whether the glass is half empty or half full. Our scenario is more like this:

It's a hot day. The heat index is at 115 and the weatherman told you not to go outside today. Your car ran out of gas (thanks to a faulty gauge) and you're walking down a highway in the middle of Deliverance, Tennessee, when you spot a Dollar General ahead. Grateful for the single sweaty dollar in your pocket, you open the door of the drink refrigerator and sigh as the cold air envelopes you, kissing your cheeks and forehead with frosty lips. You pay for your Snapple and step outside so as to spare the DG employees from the scent of your angry sweat. You sit on the bench in front of the store, untwist the cap--taking a moment to enjoy the satisfying PIP when the vacuum seal is off--and bring it towards your mouth, already savoring the taste of the artificial flavors.
All of a sudden, you hear a POP in the distance, and a second later, your Diet Peach Tea is in your lap and the bottle has disintegrated. It's a sniper! Some kind of terrorist who goes around shooting at random people, and you're his target. And the worst part isn't that your life is in danger; it's that you were JUST fixing to take a long swig of that Snapple, and now you're gonna die with a dry mouth.

We call it the Flower Luck.

Also, we use lots of adjectives when we talk.

We have a long tradition of looking at things from a skewed and often scarily psychotic perspective. Some people call it gallows humor. I call it MORBID.

We could be having a lovely conversation, and all of a sudden things take a downward turn--the end result usually being someone's death. For example:

My sister Joon spent two days typing up an emergency list before she and MJ went on their cruise. I'm not saying it was a bad idea--it's important to make sure your child is going to be cared for--but the amount of research she did seem a little disproportionate to me. Also, it wound up not being an emergency sheet; it was an emergency playbook. I suggested that she rip out the (75) relevant pages of a phone book in order to save time. On the coffee table, in plain sight, she and MJ left their wills ... just in case. MORBID.

I don't ever watch hangings on television. They're fake, and I know that, but it still freaks me out. Whenever I see someone's feet suspended in air, I mute the tv and close my eyes and count to 20. Death by hanging would be my least-preferred method of dying. And the fact that I have made a mental countdown of potential death scenarios is weird. And MORBID.

When I went to London last year--ooh, I haven't told anybody this yet--when I was sitting in Heathrow waiting for my flight back to the US, I wrote a letter to my family and addressed it to myself. Just in case my flight was hijacked by terrorists and flown into Big Ben, in which case I would NOT die in the impact but would instead drown in the Thames because my seat would not, in case of emergency, double as a flotation device. It was a goodbye letter, with all the gooey stuff that people say when they're being executed or whatever, and I got it a week after I arrived home (safely) and tore it up. It seemed silly on this side of the ocean. Also ... MORBID.

I always order my meals well done. People make fun of me, and tell me I am ruining my steak, or ask me if that charcoal tastes good, but I have my reasons. Specifically, they deal with the movie Poltergeist and ghost stories I heard at a (Christian!) campground in New York. The first has to do with that scene where that guy's face turns to maggots. I don't recall it clearly right now, as I saw the movie when I was seven and was thus SCARRED FOR LIFE, but in my head it has become the result of not cooking that chicken long enough. The second deals with a ghost story in which some guy ate something and maggots grew up inside his guts and then came pouring out his ears as full-grown flies. Sometimes I get a little tickle in my ear and I immediately diagnose myself with Bug Ears and do an emergency peroxide wash. So far, I have NOT had real Bug Ears, but I order my meat well done, because you never know. MORBID.

My parents are going out West this week, leaving tomorrow. Last night, my dad took me into his study and showed me how to get into his safe box and also where all their life insurance information was. Also he told me that they had travel insurance as well and that he thought I should know that stuff because air flight is spotty and things could happen. Gross. I don't want to think about my parents dying. It's MORBID.

My mom and my sister both have a problem with heights. Like when we stand on a cliff, or something, or go to the roof of the Peabody Hotel, they will never get close to the edge. They are not afraid of heights, but they are both afraid that, once they see how far it is to the ground, that THEY WILL JUMP. MORBID.

I am petsitting my parents' cat while they're away. She is almost twenty years old and the meanest animal on the face of the earth. She hates me. I am not crazy about taking care of her--not just because she could beat me in a fight, but because I'm afraid she might die while I'm in charge. MORBID.

My own cat Lulu is a roly-poly. I know I overfeed her, but I can't help myself. If I should happen to fall down the stairs and snap my neck and nobody discovers my body for three days, I would prefer for her NOT to eat my face. MORBID.

Obviously, most of these thoughts come to me in the middle of the night, after I've been awakened by a strange sound that I'm sure is a burglar/murderer who is fixing to walk into my room and stab me to death (MORBID). I can never think rationally in the dark.

I don't want anyone to get the idea that we Flowers are melancholy or depressed or suicidal; we're not. We've actually been pretty lucky, in terms of all the things that might have happened to us but didn't. (knock wood) (Mom and Dad please don't die). In most respects, we're pretty normal.

And maybe that's the root of our morbidity: maybe our preoccupation with the dark side is like a pressure valve, like we get so exhausted with maintaining our perfection that we need to let off steam. And instead of going to clubs or bars or buying motorcycles or dyeing our hair purple, we choose the relative harmlessness of creepy storytelling. And, I guess, it works; we're none of us murderers or drunks or asylum escapees with hooks for hands. We're just an average family with above-average imaginations.

Hey! That almost sounded ... NOT MORBID.

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