Sunday, June 24, 2007

Not like I have a lot of spare time these days, but I somehow recently found myself sitting on the terrace leafing through a collection of old (« classic » as they term it these days. Nothing is just old anymore) Doonesbury cartoons. I vaguely remember reading the strip back in the 1970’s and finally understanding about 30% of the humor by the end of the decade.
This time around, it struck a nerve, as you could just replace the word “Vietnam” with Iraq and have a completely 21st century twist on all the black humor.

What also struck me was the house plants. Yeah, Zonker and his talking plants. What a 70’s thing. In the 1960’s, plants grew outside. The yard was their natural habitat and they pretty much stayed there. With the notable exception of Christmas, when you got to kill a tree, drag it indoors to give off that delicious piney fragrance and create a major fire hazard that could turn your joyous holiday home into a tragic inferno. But I digress.

I distinctly remember that until 1970, I grew up in an entirely houseplant-free home. Then, suddenly, everybody was lugging big pots of dirt into their living rooms. You’d have ferns and possibly philodendrons. These were the aspidistra of the era. They'd sit in a place of honor. A wrought iron plant stand was considered nice, but the style benchmark was, of course, the macramé plant hanger. For those of you young enough and lucky enough to have missed that whole macramé thing, think knotted rope and wooden beads. The macramé aspect is logical, of course, as the entire houseplant movement was a complete hippie conspiracy. They were known as very dirt-oriented persons. Woodstock was not talked about for decades afterwards because of the clean restrooms and excellent shower facilities. So, it was definitely the hippie movement that was behind the “lets bring large quantities of dirt into our homes” concept.

I am an adult now and have my very own houseplant-free home. The idea of having containers of dirt sitting around in my clean house is distinctly disturbing. My attitude towards this issue is no doubt somewhat influenced by an incident from the spring of 1978, when my junior high Spanish teacher invited the class over to her home for dinner. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands pre-paella, and was confronted by one million (possibly more, I didn’t count) tiny baby crickets bursting out of the dirt around the “attractive” houseplant sitting on the vanity. Since that night, I have hated both crickets and houseplants. And I’m not all that keen on paella, either.

I don’t know why I wrote all that. I should be packing, for pete’s sake.
I guess it’s been festering. All these years, I have been wondering: What’s the deal with houseplants? The 70’s are over. Throw the damn things out, people. They’re just havens for bacteria and cricket eggs. Ish.


babzee said...

Deeper and deeper insight into your damaged psyche! Zo, vhen did choo first notice zis fear of crickets...hmmmmm...?

Anonymous said...

I don't like houseplants either ... I invariably end up killing them by water deprivation. The crickets would freak me out too!! Have a great holiday in USA and I'm glad you weren't kidnapped! Lili

Pardon My French said...

But I thought the plants the hippies brought inside and grew had a more functional purpose! I'm not talking aloe vera, either. Still, I guess if you're going to bring one bucket of dirt inside you might as well bring one with a fern.

Dirk Gently said...

you know, i was reading '25 years of doonesbury' not long ago and had the same thought. not to mention all the strips about bush the elder in iraq. same story, different bush.

btw, welcome to america. and i tagged you on my site.