7.05.2013

These Kinds of Decisions Should not Paralyze a Man

My wife's out of town, which means I'm entrusted with maintaining our home in such a manner so as to ensure it doesn't burst into flames. The big stuff is pretty easy: pay some bills, mow the lawn, scrub the toilet every 60 days or so. I can handle that. Other stuff is a little harder to keep up with. Specifically, the stuff Kat does not out of preventative maintenance but more for her own edification, like gardening. 

I'm not really into gardening. The couple who owned our house before us definitely were into gardening though, so we've got tons of cool stuff like wisteria and grape vines and strawberries and raspberries and poppies and seriously like 15 more cool looking plants I have no idea what to call. Oh and roses. I appreciate that stuff, too. It's all really beautiful, it brings the yard to life with all kinds of fun bugs and hummingbirds and things, and if nothing else it adds serious curb appeal to our house. Kat's into gardening. She's got it in her genes, too; her mom has a plantation-style garden of everything from pineapples and jade to lilies and avocados (it helps that she lives in Hawaii). By contrast, my mom has killed plastic plants and when trying to buy a concrete pineapple for the front porch (apparently that's like a thing people do to signify "welcome," as opposed to buying a welcome mat) she brought home a giant concrete artichoke instead. It took my dad, sister, and I roughly 20 minutes to convince her it wasn't a pineapple.

The point is I'm bad at gardening.


Which ordinarily wouldn't be a big deal, since Kat recognizes that and loves me anyway. Occasionally she'll rope me into helping her weed or tie something to a trellis or whatever, but in general the gardening stuff is her gig. Except when she gets the idea to plant some things right before leaving to fish in Alaska for the summer, entrusting me to keep her various flowers and vegetables and stuff from dying. 

"I swear it was like that when you left."

Plants are deceptive. Everyone thinks they're easy to maintain. Just add water!, right? Except you can overwater a plant, too. And then it kind of turns to soup. Just when you think you've got the watering schedule down, a heat wave hits and your plants need more water at times you're not used to dispensing it and you come out to water them at your regularly-scheduled time only to find them sprawled on the ground like refugees in a desert. Seeing a living thing that depends on you for the most basic, essential nutrient on earth literally shrivel and die kind of triggers some primal anxiety in my brain that I would not make a good parent. But it turns out water isn't even the half of it. There's fucking bugs.

I had to use a picture of my penis, but just pretend it's a plant.

One of the plants in our garden has aphids. Like, a lot of aphids. Aphids are bad. I don't know why they're bad, I just know everyone says they are. Honestly, that seems like how ideas like racism perpetuate, but I'm not willing to look into how aphids are actually noble creatures because they're pretty gross in person so if people say I should kill them then I'm on board. So a normal person would just go to the store and buy some aphid poison, hose that shit down Agent Orange style, and call it a day.

But my wife is a sensitive hippie soul with silly ideas about not spraying the place where we play and frolic with toxic chemicals. So I knew I had to find a "groovy" solution that would kill the aphids but not give us all cancer. A quick Googling revealed that people use ladybugs to kill aphids, and since it can be tough to herd ladybugs to your yard stores will actually sell you a box full of them for a nominal fee. 

I was searching for my credit card to order a box of beetles online to then release into my yard in the hopes that they would eat some bugs for me and wondering how I had become a ridiculous caricature of whiteness when I figured I should do some due diligence and research where the best ladybugs come from. Naturally, I found an alarmist article explaining that ordering ladybugs is actually a TERRIBLE THING TO DO. See, those "store-bought" ladybugs are harvested out in the wild with seemingly no Quality Control whatsoever. That means they show up in your yard RIDDLED WITH PARASITES AND GERMS and they will promptly spread that contamination to all the normal, unsuspecting, native ladybugs, smallpox-blanket-style. So now not only are you unleashing the hounds of hell on your aphid problem, you're initiating pestilence-driven-genocide on possibly the cutest bugs in your garden.

Okay they're cute and all but CHRIST let's not get crazy here.

So here I sit, paralyzed. I can't use poison. I can't use ladybugs now. Some other website said lacewings are even better but who the fuck KNOWS what they bring to the table. Every answer I find sends me down a rabbit hole of more questions. So basically the Aphids are Syria and I'm the UN, I guess.

YOU WIN THIS ROUND, APHIDS. BUT IF I EVER REACH AN AMICABLE COMPROMISE REGARDING ACCEPTABLE USE OF FORCE TO DETER YOUR ACTIVITIES THEN BOY YOU'D BETTER WATCH OUT.

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