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.
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.