COLUMN SIXTY-SIX, DECEMBER 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
THE YUCCA PLANT
In terms of plants,
Robert had never felt anything except for the mildest sort of esthetic
appreciation, until the Sunday morning at Bebe's apartment, when he sensed that
her big, potted yucca was trying to get his attention.
Robert loved sleeping at
Bebe's place. It was small and had
an urban feeling, even though it was situated near the top of Mead's Mountain.
Bebe was one of those
women who was more magician than mortal and could carve out a feeling of
spaciousness and grace in the most challenging environments.
Her bed was tucked into an alcove between two walls and lavishly made up
with silk-covered comforters and fresh-smelling sheets of soft Egyptian cotton.
The foot of the bed faced the best feature of the apartment---a view of a red
maple tree. In summers Bebe kept lace on the window to filter out the green
glare; in winter she hung velvet curtains in cornflower blue because the snow
depressed her. But in the fall she left the window bare.
On the left side of the
bed was a red brick wall with an antique-framed, black and white photograph of
Bebe as a Lolita-ish ten year old wearing her mother's straw hat and sunglasses.
On the other wall was a
built-in bookshelf decorated with a few pieces of earth-toned pottery, stacks of
colorful coffee table books, a reading lamp, a small deco-shaped alarm clock and
the aforementioned enormous yucca plant with its tropical yellow-tinged green
Robert woke that Sunday
with a shaft of sun falling on his cheek. Everything was familiar and cozy: the
smell of Bebe's dark, freshly brewed coffee; the sound of her shower and the
softly playing Bach. Robert stretched and blinked at the primary storybook cheer
of the red leaves against the blue sky. He
buried his head back in the soft pillows and drew up the covers and nearly
drifted off again but then---
The call was
unmistakable. His eyes flew open
and the plant was so close it was nearly touching his nose and Robert could not
imagine how he could have taken it for granted for so long. Not so much ignored
it as viewed it as an inanimate object, part of the furniture. Another one of
his lover's elegant decorating touches.
And now he could see that
the plant was not only most certainly alive, but actively regarding him with a
sort of benign, plant-like affection.
Bebe's shower stopped and
she was humming along with Bach. Robert
decided to employ the logical, component-by-component method that his
goal-oriented office management consultant had taught him.
The plant was alive. Okay, no problem, anyone could deal with that. That part, at least,
living beings---why CAN'T
was absolute fact. The
plant was communicating. Okay. Why not? Didn't plants thrive when talked to
sweetly; didn't they shrivel when you played Nine Inch Nails?
Yeah, but wasn't that a one-way deal? Weren't plants supposed to be the
Robert sat straight up in
bed. He suddenly wished Bebe would put some damn shutters up. The whole sunny
view was alarmingly cheery, as if a huge Mr. Rogers might sail through at any
He looked at the plant.
Shit, that was it. Its
leaves were looking ever so slightly singed. Too much sun. It wanted Robert to
do something about the harsh fall light.
Bebe was wrapped in a towel, with a perfumey steamy haze coming off her
face, bending over Robert, bestowing a toothpastey kiss on his brow.
Too many smells. Boy was he
Robert shot his hand out,
past Bebe's body, and felt the dry dirt around the plant's base.
"Shouldn't you water
this thing?" Robert said. "And isn't it getting just a bit too much
Bebe sat on the bed. The
smells! The thirst! But at least she was partially blocking the sun from the
window. The relief! She leaned
forward and her hair dripped a little on Robert and her eyes sparkled.
thing," she said. "What's gotten into you? You're positively
Robert said, hopping out of bed. He felt instantly regretful when his heavy feet
thudded on the floor and sent jarring reverberations through the air.
He went into the tiny kitchen to get some water.
"Why are you
tip-toeing?" Bebe sat on the edge of the bed, rocking with mirth.
"Darling, are you okay? Has something happened to you?
"Everything's just fine," said Robert, pouring water into the parched soil around the plant. "I don't know what you're talking about." And so began his new life with woman and plant. ##
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN SIXTY-SIX
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ