#80 – The Gangrene Thumb

My wife’s leaving for a three-day business conference out west. Thankfully, she’s asked her father to tend her plants while she’s away. A sensible move, and not only because Vito Gambino owns the greenest thumb in America (except for his apparent hatred of grass, that is). Sophia doesn’t want a repeat performance of the time I served as floral caretaker. 

I’ve never claimed to be a gardener. When I hanker for a juicy tomato, my first thought isn’t to dig a hole in the dirt and see what pops up. God forbid! No, my idea of tilling the soil begins and ends with pawing through the produce display at the local supermarket. Let the Mexican migrant workers handle the heavy lifting I say. 

Granted, it’s not that Sophia ever considered me a suitable choice for plant maintenance. But back then her parents hadn’t yet moved to Georgia, and she didn’t see any better option. So before departing for a week long marketing trip, she wrote out detailed instructions as to every pot, offered up a fervent prayer to the Lord, and hoped for the best. 

Sophia’s “manual” included precise instructions and a schedule for watering and feeding every flower and cactus inside the house. With that degree of specificity, even a boob of my magnitude experienced no difficulty tending the indoor flora like a pro. 

The outdoor plants proved a different story, however. Of all her greenery, my wife most prized two … shrubs? … trees? Frankly, I’m not sure what they were; all I can tell you is she’d temporarily installed them in large containers on our back deck and driveway. Her instructions directed me to move those planters inside if it rained, but she didn’t say why. 

It’s no secret; I don’t like taking orders, particularly those imparted without explanation and without obvious logic supporting them. And while I knew next to nothing about growing plants, I did know one thing: they need water. As it seemed to me, if a little water is good, a lot of water must be even better. 

On her return, my fuming wife pointed out a significant flaw in my reasoning. A pot requires holes in its bottom for excess water to drain. Without holes the liquid sits in place, and enough of it (from constant downpours, for example) will eventually drown the container’s occupant. 

I sympathized with Sophia, but I thought her anger at me misdirected. As I explained, had she given me a drainage primer before leaving me in charge of her plants, and had she informed me that her two outdoor pots lacked holes beneath, I certainly would’ve sought shelter for them during the five days it rained that week. But try to offer some people a bit of constructive criticism and they bite your head off, just because the postmortem pictures look like this:


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