By WYLIE WONG
Blast San Francisco Bureau
"Maybe I should buy some plants for my apartment," I wondered aloud as
my friend and I walked through Home Depot.
It was a humdrum Saturday afternoon and my friend, a new homeowner, needed
some wood. He dragged me along to help carry them.
"Well, buy some plants," he said as he pointed to a dozen potted palms and evergreens in a
corner of the warehouse. I imagined a few of them decorating my tiny,
sunny apartment. That would be lovely, I thought. The plants looked so green and leafy, so erect, so alive.
When reality struck.
I've killed every plant I've ever owned.
"I don't think I can handle the pressure of taking care of another living thing," I said.
Two years ago, I had five plants in my apartment. One day, I raced around my abode, towels in one hand
and 409 in the other, trying to clean up my mess before my parents arrived for dinner. I scrubbed everything, the
coffee table, the dining room table, when I looked at my plants in horror: They were dry,
wilted and yellowish. It had been two months since I last watered them. Possibly
two months since I last noticed them.
Desperate and not wanting my parents to think I was irresponsible
(which I was), I picked up the vegetation and shoved them into my bedroom
closet and shut the door.
Three months later, I peeked in my closet and found them all black -
Last year, I was feeling optimistic about growing plants again and got a Chia Pet.
I dunked it into a bowl of water and a few days later, the Chia Pet - a bald guy
with glasses - sprouted a headful of grass. Full of pride, I placed it on top of my computer monitor at work. A coworker gave it a mohawk, and a week later, the
poor thing lost all its hair. I was crushed.
In the ensuing months, I drowned the head in buckets
of water, hoping the hair would grow back. No luck. I don't know how, but I had killed the Chia Pet. So I used it as a ball to play catch with coworkers.
My friend nodded knowingly. He's never owned a plant that survived, either.
Maybe that's why we're friends: We're both journalists, baseball fans and
He and I loaded up a few pieces of wood onto the shopping cart and pushed it over
to the cashier. On the table, before the cashier, sat a couple dozen cacti.
"Buy a cactus," he said.
"I don't know. Should I?"
"Oh, come on. I'll even pay for it," he said.
The price tags on the cacti did read: "Low maintenance." That sounded good to me.
So I picked up the most phallic-looking one I could find and handed it to the cashier.
"I hope I don't kill this cactus," I told the woman.
She raised her eyebrows and gave a half-smile. "It'd be very hard to do," she said.
My friend handed her his credit card, then gave me a brotherly pat on the shoulder.
"Wylie here wants to try to raise a living thing," he told the woman. "We decided to start him off kind of slow."