A Collection of City Thoughts

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Plant Killer

I am convinced my rubber plant hates me. All I have to do is look at in a displeasing way and it sheds a leaf. Just like that, *plop*. That's the sound of a rubber leaf falling to the floor with purposeful angst.

To look at it you would never think there was anything wrong with it. It looks healthy and strong enough. It just hates me, that's all.

Eva was over last night and even she noticed its discontent. "I think your rubber plant is angry dear." I generally trust Eva's instincts. She comes from a long line of Romanian gypsies (or at least that's what she tells me).

I met Eva last year in Kensington Market. She was selling amulets and reading peoples' palms outside my favorite empanada stand. She wore shiny rings on all ten of her fingers and all ten of her toes and I remember being attracted to their sparkle and to her long, curly hair that hung beneath her waist. She had caught me watching her from afar and called me over to her table. This led to a palm reading and to a series of long conversations on the state of culture in Toronto, Degrassi Junior High and the art of Tai Chi. By the end of it all she had asked me out on a date. "You mean like a real date?" I asked. I wasn't sure how to approach the question. I had never been asked out by a woman before, least of all a gorgeous Romanian gypsy. I smiled and bit my lower lip. Something I do when I don't know what to do. She could sense my unease and sweetly replied, "...or we could just simply grab a coffee as friends."

Last night after dinner Eva recommended that we burn some incense and try to awaken the inner spirit of my angry rubber plant. "We need to find the source of its discontent," she said.

In a smoky haze of Nag Champa incense we placed my rubber plant in the centre of my kitchen atop a pedestal of art history text books and a Merriam-Webster Dictionary. We held hands in a circle and Eva began to chant something in what I can only assume was in her native tongue. "Take that rubber plant," I said. Eva squeezed my hand and reminded me to take the process seriously.

She swayed gently back and forth, pushing out harsh and unrecognizable sounds from her lips. She asked me to repeat these sounds and so I did, quietly. Eva began to dance. I could see the movement starting from deep within her centre, convulsing and radiating out to the top of her head. "Dance with me," she said, and squeezed my hands harder. "I need another glass of wine," I said. But Eva shook her head and spun me around. "Dance with me!" Eva removed her head scarf and threw it across the room to reveal an untamed mess of tendrils. She then removed her knitted sweater, folded it and placed it on my kitchen table. Her chanting grew louder and she began to spin in circles. I stood there and watched her. I watched her as she removed her socks and then I watched her as she stepped out of her thick cotton dress. "I don't understand at all," I said. "Just dance with me," she replied.


I am entirely convinced my rubber plant hates me. If it only mildly hated me yesterday, it most certainly loathes me today. This morning it sits where we left it, at the centre of my kitchen, among empty wine glasses and ashes. It looks sad today. More sad than angry.

Somehow I know I won't see Eva again.