Sunday, August 7, 2005

An Argument Concerning Houseplants

Chiara and I had an argument today about houseplants. The crushing weight of the domesticity is not lost on me.

I’m not proud of myself. At one point I believe I actually said that she hated all living things.

This because she rather misliked my plan to purchase an indoor palm.

We sulked and traded the occasional barb for the better part of the afternoon. After the worst of it, she went to watch the home and garden channel on television (I ache with pleasure at the possibility that she sat through a landscaping show where they extolled the virtues of the single trunked kentia palm), and I retreated to the bedroom to read a novel I don’t care for.

This was not really resolved until I came into the living room an hour later and found her wheedling away at our small space heater with a screwdriver.

Mostly the space heater is used to placate the cat when it complains bitterly about the cooler evenings in winter or to warm Chiara’s feet while she hunches over on the sofa to watch plastic surgery programs which send me scurrying out of the room, nauseated.

Thing is, she isn’t repairing it or anything; she wants to vacuum inside the thing.

This is part of her larger vacuum crusade.

Some of the items that I have seen her vacuum in our time spent together: the bed, her clothes, my clothes, me, the cat, books, the out of doors, the insides of shoes, the leaves of plants.

I have learned not to question her wisdom on these matters.

Wordlessly, I helped her to separate the housing of the machine and to clean the accumulated dust of a decade of use out of the corners and electrical whorls and from behind the surprisingly sharp fan blades.

When we finally managed to put it all back together and turn it on, it caught fire, melting the electrical wiring inside and leaving our living room smelling acridly of burnt plastic.

She laughed and bit her finger and raised her eyebrows contritely. I shrugged and we went into the bedroom to escape the smell and to watch a truly disgusting Jessica Simpson biopic.

I still don’t know if I can buy my palm tree. I’m afraid to ask.

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