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April 17, 2006

Day 9: The Gardener wants a divorce

Francisco and I are standing in the back yard, neither of us has said a word to the other for a full five minutes. He is leaning on his shovel, staring at me, and he is angry, or frustrated, or both. I had planned to tell him all about my exciting Square Watermelon patch, but now we aren't speaking. We need therapy, or couples counseling. I suspect he wants to divorce me on the grounds of insanity.

Aside from the fact that we do not live under the same roof, and I don't do his dirty laundry, Francisco and I are in a marriage. We don't talk much, we both share the responsibility for the upkeep of the yard, sometimes we don't listen to each other, or understand each other. Sometimes we laugh, or have a beer, but we never have s-e-x.

Sounds like marriage to me.

Francisco wants to trim the big hedges, and I am trying to convince him otherwise. He has a vision for the shrubs which I do not share, every time he stops by it seems something has been removed, or cut to within an inch of its life. I used to have big box shrubs in front of the house. One day I came home to find them carved into trees. Now I make jokes to my friends, "Ya'll come over! Look at the shrubs! You can't see the forest because of the tiny, stubby trees!"

On this particular day, however, I have mortally offended Francisco. Our relationship is on the rocks. I have made the egregious error of implying that he killed the big back yard oak tree when he completely chopped it to pieces, or "pruned" it a few months ago.

"Francisco, I'm sorry, I'm sure you didn't kill the tree, it just died coincidentally around the same time, maybe?"

"It's not dead."

"But it has no branches and no leaves."

"Look! Right here, es verde, ok?"

"Ok. But this one green leaf bud will not shade me for the whole summer. If you cut down the hedges, I'll bake over here."

"Bake?"

It occurs to me that maybe the only way to appeal to Francisco on this issue is to make him understand that while his idea is REALLY GREAT, and I was WRONG to imply he killed the tree, I have special needs, and they are girly and silly but I would be so happy if he would oblige me. (Being married taught me a thing or two about the fragile male ego.)

I change my tone.

"Francisco, I know you're right about the bushes. I do! But this is a little embarrassing, you know? Me da verguenza. But ... I'm ... you know. Muy guera. Very very pale colored. And without any shade, I'll get sunburned and I'll be bright red and super fea. And you know. I just don't want to be red and ugly. I need some shade, that's all, even though you are completely right about the hedges..."

He hesitates.

He looks at the hedge. Looks back at me. As if for the first time discovering that I really do glow in the dark, probably, and while he doesn't find the shade of a giant hedge very pleasant, perhaps this crazy white lady has challenges he had not considered.

"Well," he says slowly. Taking his time.
"OK. No hedges today."

"Thank you Francisco!" I hug the gardener. We're both relieved. Neither of us really want to divorce each other. Yet.

Francisco finishes with the grass, and I sweep the patio, and then we have a beer and I decide that today is maybe not the best day to tell him about the square watermelons after all. It would just lead to more misunderstanding, more distance between us. And Lord knows I cannot afford couples counseling for me and the gardener.

Posted by laurie at April 17, 2006 11:16 AM