Midday In The Garden Of Evil and More Evil

I consider it my duty as a husband to warn all my fellow married men that you should never under any circumstances go shopping for plants with your wife. It is a far better idea to huddle at home, or failing that, in the car, or ideally, Inner Mongolia (unless you and your wife LIVE in Inner Mongolia),

Okay, maybe under two circumstances it is a good idea to go shopping for plants with your wife:

1) When you are something like the chief arborist of a moderately-sized city and you know so much more about plants than she does because it is your job that she cannot possibly confuse you, or

b) She informs you that if you do not come plant shopping with you, you will devastate her soul because plant-shopping is a wonderful thing that Husbands and Wives can Do Together to Enrich Their Marriage.

Okay, that last one isn’t so much a “good idea” as it is the absence of a “much worse idea.”

My theory is that plant shopping is how wives get revenge on their husbands for having hobbies or interests outside of marriage. And it is the ultimate revenge. Because no matter what your hobby, whether it be beer-making, or professional hockey, or role-playing games, or professional cryptography, I guarantee you that it does not have a tenth of the jargon and arcane knowledge as the simple act of shopping for houseplants. I’m a semi-professional fantasy writer who has read all of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth books including The Silmarillion, which reads like a history professor decided to make up a fantasy World History textbook because he knew all of the real world’s history and had found it needlessly simple. And gardening puts Tolkien to shame. So for all the hours you have spent boring your wife about the offside rule, or oak-cask aging, or the Hand of Vecna, or one-time pads, your wife will now have her day:

Here is a sample of the kind of thing my wife says to me while shopping for plants: “We’re looking for a nightshade varietal, or it might be called Solanaceae, and I hope they have Ornamental Weatherington Hoopla. If we’re lucky, it’s a perennial, but we might have to stick with an annual. The English varieties are hardiest but they may be too sun-loving for the giardensis we have shading the back garden, in which case we’ll want a hibiscus turtleglove for the begonias.”

Every now and then, your wife will notice that your eyes are glazing over, which is the signal for her to Ask You A Question.

This is a trap.

“What do you think, should we get the Weatherington Hoopla Peppers or the Panfrunsicum Catalonia Peppers?”

This might lead to you asking what seems a perfectly reasonable question, such as “Which tastes better?”

If you are so foolish as to ask it, you will be informed, in tones so chilling that an employee may ask you to leave the greenhouse, that these plants are ornamental, which means that they produce food that is not meant to be eaten, similar to the way you have guest towels in your house that must not ever under any circumstances come into contact with water.

The experienced husbands are nodding sagely, or, in the case of very experienced husbands, reaching for their prescription medication.

The wives are already writing angry comments to inform me that there is no such thing as “giardensis.”