Plant Eater

Plant Eater

It’s great to have friends who are moving. I mean, it’s sad, no doubt, but there is nothing like the dissipating resolve of a person standing in a room of their belongings and the knowledge that they have to pack them into boxes and bring them somewhere else. This is the way you end up with things. Lots of things. It’s even better when that friend is leaving on an airplane, so there’s no way they can bring everything.

It’s in this way that I have recently ended up with a yoga mat, a popcorn maker, lots of honey, a Pilates ball, a knife block, a set of pots, a rug, a cast iron pan, and a plant stand and several plants.

All of these things are useful and I have already used most of them. But the rug, the plant stand, and the plants have brought the most joy. They bring a cozy atmosphere to the flat that simply wasn’t there before. It has also given my cat a full circle of activity.

She climbs the plant stand

She eats the plants

She pukes onto the rug

It’s the circle of life.

I know that cats like to eat leaves because they make them puke and it cleans out their system. But there seems to be an intentional aspect to my cat’s actions. This is inferred by me by the way she stares at me with a flat and angry look while munching. Then she meows at me until I look at her and it’s then that she pukes onto the rug.

I yell at her each time. I try to talk sense to her. “Why would you eat those plants if you know it’s only going to make you sick?”

She doesn’t say anything, but she squints as if to say: “Hey old man, isn’t it ironic that you say that to me while suffering your ten thousandth hangover?”

But there’s another element to it that troubles me. The only thing that ate those plants in my friend’s place was probably some small insects and maybe a spider or two. My friend might have taken a nibble in a moment of drunken curiosity, but overall they were probably left alone to bask in the warmth of his room.

I feel bad that the plants have moved into an inferior atmosphere. I want all things in my flat to get along. Me, Burke, the B Monster, our platoons of ladybugs (wonder what it is about this area), my desk spider Jeff (who has now moved house to my desk plant), and now my plants.

Growing up we always had animals in the house. And not only that, it was almost encouraged to bring home an animal (beneath a dog) who was having a bad day. So our house was full of dogs and cats and frogs and toads. There was a turtle. Then there was another. I think for about 10 years a lope-eared rabbit lived quietly in a hutch in the backyard. Ostensibly it belonged to my sister Amanda, but the rabbit was so inactive that she might as well have possessed a pet rock.   

I brought home a duck once, but it ran away pretty fast. We had a slew of cats who thanked us for our hospitality by bringing around dead birds and, terrifyingly, skunks. These cats were mostly autonomous and acted like the rogue green beret you see in a movie, the one who doesn’t play by the rules, but rather disappears into the misty jungle and returns in a similar way. Still, occasionally one tabby we had would hop up into my bed and sort of quietly demand a space. I’d let him, and I don’t mind telling you that I’d sleep a bit easier on the nights he was watching my door from my feet.

Any animal that came (or was brought) around was treated like an immediate part of the family. This was both good and bad for the animals, who were stuffed into backpacks and brought on hikes, but also fed from the table and welcomed with cozy nights on couches and pillows. The four kids loved animals, my mother rolled her eyes but tolerated them, and my dad had no idea how many animals we had, but we also didn’t care as long as he wasn’t expected to clean up after one or to walk one.   

I know it’s dumb, but I think the only place I can control the happiness somewhat bilaterally is in my house. And I want a little Utopia here. When I imagine my flat I want to be like St. Francis of Assisi standing among the happy comingling masses of joyous and smiling flora and fauna. But that can’t be if one of us is eating another of us. Perhaps I should get a carnivorous plant to teach the cat a lesson.

The internet suggested orange peels, I suppose that something within them bothers cats and indeed I have noticed the displeased look my B Monster gets when I peel an orange. It’s like when someone near me opens a can of mushrooms.   

I suppose each Utopia has to have a jerk. If nothing else, maybe that’s the only positive thing about these troubled times of global assholery and people who won’t listen to reason. I only wish I could temporarily cure that problem with orange peels. Is there a jerk around? Lay some orange peels at your feet and they’ll stay away. Maybe books?  

Despite my efforts, the orange peels only work for a day or two before the cat gets right back to it. She’s showing no signs of giving up his plant based diet. Each week I walk out into the living room into a small pile of slimy plant-filled puke. And she continuously and defiantly eats in front of me and then upchucks it onto the rug, Larry. There’s probably a metaphor there, but it really just seems like nobody is winning.  

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