Archive for March, 2010

Plant Interpreter

March 18, 2010

A well-understood spider plant.

What I have never been able to understand is how not everyone can talk to plants.  Why, it’s the simplest thing in the world– place your face close to the plant of your choice and quietly say, “Shhhshhhhhhhshissssssssss [Hello, gentle plant and how are your roots and leaves this fine day?]”  And then the plant will tell you how it is doing.  Nothing could be easier.  Yet it turns out that surprisingly few people know what to say, let alone are able to decipher the response.

It took me years to realize that this was a marketable skill.  One day Mr. Polly and I were visiting Vincent Price in his dungeon when he mentioned that he simply could not manage to keep the callas lilies he so loved to display on his fireplace mantle alive.  Well, I walked right over to those infernal flames and asked the flowers what was wrong.  After a good 25 minutes of listening to and taking down their grievances, I returned to Vinny and told him, “Stop smoking.”  Mind you, this was back in the day that it was thought that smoking helped fumigate lung parasites and was a highly recommended therapeutic practice– long before we knew that nicotine gum was just as effective against lung flukes.  “At least don’t smoke around them, is what they’re telling me,” I responded when old Price guffawed, “and have your hunchbacked butler bring them outside for a few hours during the sunny part of the day.”  VP was skeptical, but I implored him just to try it for a week, two weeks.  My pleading must have worked, because a week later, calls started pouring in from all the Hollywoodland elite, and my face began appearing in glossy magazines and I made quite a number of late-night variety show appearances.  Thus I became known as the “Plant Interpreter to the Stars!”

But it quickly grew old.  I gave the same recommendations over and over again.  “Try mixing Miracle Grow with the shredded cardboard in that pot.”  “Your dwarf pine prefers vodka.”  “You’ll need to burn that weedy brush in your backyard to make room for the rice paddy.” I got so fed up that I wrote a book and began charging a thousand per half hour consultation.  Naturally, this freed up most of my time for my preferred endeavor at the time– the lipstick applying stand I’d set up on the Sunset Strip, an endeavor which unfortunately failed, but the reverberations of which were felt at department store makeup counters for decades following.  You see, I was the one who originated the idea of not applying lipstick to the rear molars, a move that has saved women the world over thousands each year.


Sabrage Master

March 8, 2010

So blunt... so deadly...

I cannot believe that I have not mentioned this career earlier, since it has proved my bread and butter throughout the course of my life.  Through all recessions and personal setbacks, there has always been one career that I have not only fallen back on, but practiced with aplomb all through my life.  It was taught to me by my Grandpapa, the Grand Snakecatcher of Lervwis County, who learned the trade as a child Hussar in Napoleon’s army.  Of course, Grandpapa generally used the skill to open bottles of fine bourbon moonshine, but I have yielded to commercial pressure and since my early teens have only practiced the art on champagne.  The art I speak of?  Sabrage, of course.  The opening of bottles by means of the saber.

Everyone always says the same thing when I walk into a fine dining establishment carrying my official “Sabrage Master d’America” sword.  “Take the money!” they generously offer.  “Call 911!” I often hear from the kitchen.  “Please, my wife– not me!” the men say, thinking perhaps that I charge per head to uncork a bottle.  Common folk are so unused to true luxury, they don’t know how to react.  Let me walk you all through the process, so that you will not make the same uncultured mistakes the next time you find yourself face to face with a blade.

First of all, I will only charge you standard corking fees for my services.  Most other freelance Sabrage Masters will scalp you (sometimes literally, though this was much more common during the Chicago and Newark Sabrage Riots of 1936 and 1937 respectively) with a 500 percent plus service charge, but not I.  Secondly, I will ask you to sign a liability waiver on the off chance that shards of flying glass become lodged in your face, eyes, or your esophageal, stomach or intestinal tissues.  If you are a particularly saavy customer, you will have your own waivers on hand, and will thoroughly impress your date by pulling them from your man-purse or lady-purse the moment one of us Sabrage Masters walks through the door.  Finally, you will discreetly tip me generously prior to my sword-wielding.  After all, meditating briefly on the handsome visage of Benjamin Franklin helps greatly in centering my mind and steadying my hand.

Oh, and don’t try this yourself.  You will surely waste good champagne.

Old-growth Extreme Topiarist

March 3, 2010

At last, at last. Symmetrical at last.

My biggest problem with nature is that it lacks all culture, untouched as it is by human hand, and when it is touched by human hand the hand tends to come away dirty because nature is full of dirt.  It’s simply not a pleasant place to be.  I could have called a committee meeting about it, but I’m no dawdler.  Also, my insurance company had sent me a final notice that I would be dropped from my plan should I take on any other chainsaw or trapeze-based activities, so I had to go rogue on this one and put the business in Jeannie-Fayelene Bakker’s name.  (Due to the demons of her Appalachian past, Ms. Jeannie-Fayelene won’t set foot in forest, wood or bathtub– any place where moonshine stills are traditionally located– so the enterprise was entirely my own undertaking.)

The first trees I tackled were Muir Woods in northern California.  I had to make my move in the middle of the night, as the rangers denied my offer to trim their trees during visiting hours– something I can only imagine would have proven a huge tourist draw, and demonstrates the sad state of the bureaucratic process.  What’s more, I had to work fast and with as little noise as possible.  (You may also note that I invented the world’s most effective chainsaw silencer for just this purpose, and said silencer is built into most models today.)  I began at 11 pm, and knocked off at 3:45-ish.  But in that short amount of time, I managed to transform what was once a rough, untamed wood into a magical glen that all could enjoy.  I not only reshaped the needled, upper portions of the trees into perfect spheres, but I carved giant old man faces into the trunks at eye-level!  Never have I seen so many visitors to a National “Park” weeping openly at the sight of nature, finally neutralized.  Though many of my endeavors cause similar swellings of deep emotion, similar torrents of tears, I would say that this instance moved me the most.  I knew that if I could bring this feeling to so many people at just this one old-growth forest, it would be morally negligent of me not to chainsaw my way across the continent, the globe.

Little did I know that I had tapped a vast, underserved market.  Not only was I receiving calls from Forest Service branches (as well as civilians) throughout the United Somethings of America, as soon as the word got out, the calls started pouring in from all nations of the world.  Even nations without trees wanted me– to sculpt their sand dunes or dig stylish trenches into their permafrost.  The fact of the matter was that I couldn’t keep up.  I hired and trained scads of workers, but only a few could topiate to my high standards.  Unfortunately, many millions of  acres of forest have gone un-shorn, and seem destined to remain so… after six years I felt that my life was running me, that the demands from all sides were never-ceasing, and that it was no longer worth it.  I threw in the snot rag and called it beer-thirty.

Many of these previously stunning forests have now been left in decline to fall back to their untouched state.  You would never know, were it not for glossy coffee table books and the distant memories of a select few individuals, the former glory of the National Forests.  Dear readers, this is one instance I will implore you– please steal my idea.  Take up the cause and make America beautiful once again.