May 23, 2006

Presto Vegetation!

Or, Random Acts of Gardening

I.
Place: My mother’s back garden
Time: Last weekend


ME: (pointing) What’s all this?
MOM: Oh, that’s oregano.
ME: It’s… kind of taking over.
MOM: (happily) I know! I only had one plant last year.
ME: And now there’s what, ninety?
MOM: Not that many. Aren’t they pretty?
ME: Yeah, but… it’s oregano.
MOM: So what?
ME: Mom, what do we ever put oregano in?
MOM: …chili.
ME: Chili.
MOM: Spaghetti, sometimes.
ME: Great. And how much chili will we be having in the coming summer months? I’m betting not enough to necessitate the oregano plantation you’ve got going here.
MOM: It’s not about how much I use—
ME: It’s an herb garden. It exactly about how much you use. Now, If you had this much basil—
MOM: I have some basil.
ME: --we could put that on bruscetta, make pesto, antipasto, endless pasta dishes—
MOM: I don’t mind it; it looks pretty.
ME: Yes, but unless we’ve got neighbors who grow an equivalent amount of cilantro and rosemary that we can barter with, we’re going to be eating oregano sandwiches all summer.
MOM: This is not a sustaining garden! It’s not like it’s the Depression!
ME: Shame. Couple the teeming four-foot rhubarb with the oregano crop and we could support at least ten members of the Joad family. For weeks, if yucca’s edible.
MOM: Why are you picking on my garden?
ME: Just the oregano, Mom. Maybe we should think of cutting it back a bit.
MOM: I’m not clearing away a plant just because you think we have too much.
ME: I meant give some away, not kill it. Your sisters might want some. And Gram.
MOM: (pause) Your Uncle Joe would want some.
ME: There we go.
MOM: I’ll put some in a planter and take it up when we go for the reunion.
ME: Maybe like… half?
MOM: Maybe like ONE.
ME: (pointing) Rosebush, rosebush, oregano, forsythia, oregano, oregano—
MOM: I LIKE THE OREGANO!
ME: Mom, when the oregano starts encroaching upon the foliage, it’s time to do a little selective pruning. It takes a lot to choke the life out of a forsythia, but the Mecha’regano has already moved on and begun nibbling the Rose of Sharon.
MOM: Yeah, I don’t know how it got out of the planter like that—
ME: Bloodthirsty oregano.
MOM: I’ll pack some up. Stop talking.
ME: Did it just eat that squirrel?
MOM: Sheesh.

II.
Place: My apartment.
Time: Last spring


AUNT SUE: Ok, so I found this plant, but I can’t remember planting it.
ME: This… aha. Um…where did you find this, again?
AUNT SUE: On the porch. I think it’s a weed.
ME: Um, yeah, it is.

(pause)

AUNT SUE: What?
ME: It’s a weed. The weed, actually.
AUNT SUE: What weed?
ME: Weed weed. The weedicle? Mary Joanna.

(BEEDOO gives pointed, exaggerated wink)

AUNT SUE: WHAT?
ME: You’re growing dope on your front lawn, Sooz.
AUNT SUE: OH MY GOD!
ME: Chill out—there’s not even enough for a—
AUNT SUE: It doesn’t matte—enough for a what, exactly?
ME: Huh? Um.. a pint, or whatever people who actually smoke it say. I wouldn’t know.
AUNT SUE: Mmm-hmm.
ME: How would it have gotten in your planter?
AUNT SUE: I have no… oh my God…
ME: “This one time, at hemp camp…”
AUNT: NO! The upstairs neighbors must have planted it!
ME: The crazy neighbors?
AUNT SUE: Yeah. They didn’t want to get busted—
ME: I’ll give you a dollar if you actually say ‘NARC’s.
AUNT SUE: NO.
ME: Or ‘G-Men’, or ‘blue boys’.
AUNT SUE: NO! OH, those stupid people almost got me arrested!
ME: I think you’re giving them too much credit.
AUNT SUE: You think I could have planted this by accident?!
ME: No, I think the neighbors wouldn’t consciously take time out of their All-Day Loud French Cinema schedule to actually come down here and plant it.
AUNT SUE: They could’ve done it at night.
ME: That plays havoc with the Loud Sex at 3 AM schedule. I also think that granting them the intelligence to come up with what is actually a decent business plan is giving them waaay too much credit.
AUNT SUE: That’s a point.
ME: More likely a seed just dropped off of their balcony and into your unwitting, guileless potting soil and… grew three feet. Wow, you are lucky the NARCs didn’t come ‘round.
AUNT SUE: THIS IS WHAT I’M SAYING!
ME: HA! POTTING soil!
AUNT SUE: You’re not helping. What do I DO with it?
ME: Well, there are a number of options open—
AUNT SUE: I’m serious—
ME: Get a deeper meaning of Bob Marley, contemplate a black-light poster for hours, eat numerous Twinkie & beef jerky sandwiches—
AUNT SUE: What do I DO WITH IT?
ME: GOD, fine. Just pitch it.
AUNT SUE: What, in the trash?
ME: This isn’t customs, Sooz; there aren’t any bloodhounds on the alert. Garbage disposal it, if you’re really worried.
AUNT SUE: Fine.
ME: Hee hee.
AUNT SUE: WHAT.
ME: (giggling) I just got this flash of the cops coming, and it was all like, film noir, and they were banging on the door in fedoras like “Ma’am! We know you’re in there!” And you’re wringing your hands and wondering how they got wise…
AUNT SUE: Like I wouldn’t KNOW.
ME: Hee—and they’re all dragging you off to the pokey, and you’re like “NO! It’s a tomato! I swear! A TOMATOOO!!”
AUNT SUE: Since when do these ‘NARC’s live in the 1920’s?
ME: I was totally picturing you in finger waves and kewpie-makeup.
AUNT SUE: I could tell.

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