Every day here in Paris, Meg and I encounter young girls who ask us to sign a petition they carry on clipboards. They are pretty and slight. They smile and point to a paper that already has a few signatures. The way they gesture without speaking gives the impression that they may be deaf or mute and seeking support for some organization that would help them. We’re not Parisians, so we assumed our signatures would be of no use to them. After being approached many times, though, we became curious and asked a security person in the Tuileries what the girls wanted. Your money, he said. They are pickpockets.
Every little forest dweller comes out at the time of day when it is safest and goes about his business with one eye out for predators. Just about the first thing we tell our children when we send them out to play is not to take candy from strangers. It’s a dangerous world out there. Trust is almost unnatural.
We humans give it our best shot. Children trust their parents, for a while; Darwin set that up. Lovers trust their mates, until they don’t, until a careless gesture or hint of indifference causes a shiver of doubt, the way an open window lets in a chill.
Remember the lyrics of that old Linda Ronstadt song? “Love is a rose, but you better not pick it, it only grows when it’s on the vine.” Well, trust is a gardenia. It grows in the same garden as love. And in all but the most tender conditions, its beautiful white petals turn brown. If you are lucky enough to find it in bloom, enjoy it while you can.