Black Thumb

Today, we took possession of four flowering vines from one of my fiancee’s fellow teachers. It seems like a good idea. Four big pots with crawling vines that will eventually obscure our balcony and give us a little privacy, and if they attract a few more bugs, then so be it. It’s not as if we need a ton of extra privacy, though, since our apartment is on the second-to-top floor of our building, and we’re on the top of a hill. And we’re not sexing it up in the living room–the dog would never allow it. But it does at least provide a little something else to look at for us, other than the gaping hole in the ground where another condominium complex is going up (and, like the ones around it, will likely remain empty for a long time).

The main problem with this, though, is the fact that we both have certified black thumbs. She has a long, storied history of killing plants. Seriously, she’s like Bizarro Johnny Appleseed; instead of leaving a trail of apple trees, the road behind her is littered with brown, desiccated vegetable matter. Even I am not much better. I managed to kill both a cactus and a fern, and their tortured spirits haunt me to this day.

Right now, the biggest worry is the water overflowing from great pools in the new pots out on the balcony. We’re guessing that they’ll be fine once the rain stops and the equatorial sun blasts the water away. They’ve survived this long, so they must be used to it, right? Suuuuuure.

When we were out, today, we momentarily considered getting a bonsai tree the size of a coffee mug. It would look great on our table, and all we have to do is water it daily, fertilize it monthly, and trim and rebind it occasionally. It’s not like we forget to feed the dog. And it’s not as if we’d wantonly neglect or abuse it. There’s just something about us, maybe our magnetic fields or stage presence, that just saps flora of their will to live.

And anyway, our pets have always fared much better than our plants. All of my pets have lived to ripe old ages, while one plant barely made the car ride home. A bonsai would likely shrivel up and turn black the instant I touched it. And the people at the bonsai stall seemed so nice and genuine, as if these tiny fragile trees were their entire lives. With the bonsai’s inevitable death, I’d feel like I’d have let those people down–like I’d carved out a piece of their soul and put a cigarette out on it while staring them in the eyes. If I were them, I’d never let someone like me buy a bonsai.

So we’ll start small. We’ll get see about the vines on the balcony. If those die, we’ll get a vase and some artificial flowers, and if we don’t kill those, maybe, just maybe, we’ll work our way back up to a bonsai.


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