Human Herbicide: You will know me by the trail of my dead

The unintentional massacre began with a phallic-shaped cactus.

Far be it for me to disagree with Buddha, but I must question his accuracy when it comes to his notion that “if you want to learn about love, start with plants and animals, they’re easier,” because if that is the truth I fear I’m destined to die a spinster. The attempt to give myself a green thumb came on the heels of a particularly bad breakup. Happening upon Buddha’s quote absolved me of my latest perceived failure and convinced me that the error of my ways lay in the fact that I was ficus-less, not in my tendency to fall for the wrong men.

The unintentional massacre began with a phallic-shaped cactus that a friend had given me as a joke. I promptly named him Long Duk Dong, after the exchange student in the John Hughes movie, Sixteen Candles. In hindsight, it is clear that I should have adopted a no-naming policy like a farmer and his livestock, knowing that it makes it that much harder when they are gone, but at the time I was blissfully unaware of my unique ability to function as human herbicide.

Truth be told, the first death was more of a suicide, not a murder, though arguably just as, if not more, shocking. Long (for short) had always leaned dangerously to one side in his ceramic pot, so much so that I’d propped him up against the wall on his perch next to the TV. I came home from work one day to find him lying in the middle of the living room floor, his pot smashed and dirt everywhere. There was no saving him. To this day, it remains unclear if it was the overt anti-male vibes in the apartment or my choice in TV shows that made him jump.

Inspired by Buddha’s words, I didn’t let the cactus calamity slow me down. Next was Roni, a cute little pepper plant I thought might liven up my kitchen and possibly through osmosis impart me with Iron Chef-like abilities, or at the very least inspire me beyond frozen dinners. Unbeknownst to her, she began to represent my untapped culinary abilities. As a means of compensating for Long’s death and kick starting my kitchen prowess, I went a bit overboard. To say I was over-exuberant in her care would be an understatement. Whether it was generously administered plant food, daily watering, or constantly moving her for maximum sun exposure, I lavished her with attention, only to watch her inexplicably wither and die. It may have been the pressure she felt on my behalf. Or her not-so-subtle way of letting me know that I’m no Mario Batali.

Supa Fly was a short-lived Venus Fly Trap that managed to capture my attention, but sadly no flies to speak of. At first, I attempted to compensate for his haughty arrogance by catching the flies for him and dropping them into this little plastic dome. When that didn’t rouse his interest or incite any form of movement whatsoever, I placed small pieces of artisanal sun-dried tomato turkey sausage in his traps. Nothing. It was clear he was all talk, no action. Refusing to be played for a fool, I stopped my wooing and as a result, he died of neglect.

One of my minor successes was Moula Dinero, my braided money tree plant. Seeing her thrive bolstered me somewhat, though sadly not my bank account. Ignoring the precept that relationships based on money rarely last, I tended to her for well over a year, until her timely death right around the onset of the global economic crisis. If one was superstitious, one could definitely see a correlation between the two. Without so much as finding a lucky penny while we were together, I felt swindled. Next time I vowed look into a hedge fund instead.

The final member of my morbid menagerie was Foolery, the tomato plant I kept on my balcony. For a few brief months, I was enamored. Finally, a symbiotic relationship. The more attention I paid her, the more she would reward me. We were well on our way to Happily Ever After, until I could not stand the sight of one more cherry tomato and had run out of people willing to take them. It was unfortunate, but I had to give her the old “it’s me, not you” talk. I prefer to think she passed away from the first fall frost rather than from mine.

Giving Buddha a chance to redeem himself in my eyes, but realizing that plants just aren’t for me, I’ve jumped headlong into dog ownership with a French Bulldog named Pork Chop. It was love at first sight. Though I must admit, he does snore…


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