Plant Interpreter

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.


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