The Kiss of Death

February 26, 2008 at 2:33 am (Uncategorized)

The one problem with the new and improved layout of my office is that I can see the dead plant. It’s right there, dead ahead in more ways than one… It is so pathetic and sad looking, and it’s in a great thumping pot too, like it should really be someone. Instead it’s like when Dorothy pulls back the curtain and finds the wizened old Oz ferreting away back there as furtive as if he’d been busted, tissue in hand, in a viewing room at a strip joint. It’s got that shrunken head thing happening, like when we finally get a gander at Darth Vader and discover he’s really quite puny. That’s my plant. And I killed it.

I do this quite a lot. I have what might be called a black thumb, one touch and they wither. I don’t like watching them die, but in most cases I can’t seem to help it. Any aid I offer usually makes things worse. Much worse. Fatal. The odd thing about this plant’s death is that for a while, it was the big man about the office. Its twin was the sickly one, all embarrassed in the opposite corner and very shy in company. But this guy was the alpha male. The stud. Well, how quickly the end comes. Now it looks like the end of the world swept through here and claimed but one prize. My plant.

Llew kind of wants me to take up the gardening tools in our relationship, and I keep patiently explaining to him that it is never, ever going to happen. Do you want to know why? Well, haven’t you been listening to a word I’ve said ? I kill things. And I am not interested enough in gardening to learn how to stop driving all the household flora to an early grave (I have my own dumping ground out the back… it’s really quite sinister). I don’t care if we get rid of every plant except the frangipani cuttings from my granddad’s house. As long as we can have fresh flowers instead, I say ta ta, plant life, that’s what you get for being so goddamn temperamental. Who do they think they are, dying like that right after I’ve brought them into my home and tried to shower them with love and care and perhaps, just maybe, a little too much water? Ingrates.

I love my three frangipani plants because they have irreplaceable sentimental value. If they started to ail, I would panic, and then I would act. I would call in the experts, like my mother-in-law. I’d start feeding them that pellet stuff marketers have the nerve to call ‘plant food’ – “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought that was rat shit” – and I’d even deign to turn some turf. But answer me this: what in god’s name is therapeutic about any of that? It doesn’t becalm me, it confounds me. And they don’t call all those dirty things “soiled” for nothing, do they? No.

I don’t like dirt, I like sand. I never prune in the right place, and any attempt to cut back a plant usually results in rampant bald patches and a swift death. I have a hanging plant hanging on grimly to what little is left of its life that doesn’t do a lot of hanging in the bathroom. I’d say it more cowers. And the truly remarkable thing about this plant is that it was given to me on my 21st birthday. This thing even survived 2 years abandoned out the back of Granddad’s house in Bondi Beach whilst I was tripping the light fantastic in London. It just refuses to die. It has an extraordinary will to live, however paltry that life is. It’s my kind of plant because it doesn’t need me. Plants that require a great deal of care are just too much for me because at the end of the day, I’d rather invest all that love and worry and effort on actual people. If I had any flair for gardening, I’m sure I’d feel differently. But I don’t. So stop looking at me with those black dead leaves, you dirty traitor…I’ve got just the place for you…

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