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November 13, 2006

A Tale Of Two Gardeners

I had a dream, I had an awesome dream. That one day I would see square watermelons sitting side-by-side with round ones, that actual vegetables would spring forth from my garden, that visible panty lines could be abolished forever which has nothing to do with gardening but is, alas, still a dream.

And then you know, I kind of woke up and I was like, "Holy crap! It's hot outside and there are ants!" So I had a cocktail and sat indoors and watched Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, which frankly is about as close as I got to gardening all year. Whoops.

Somewhere between the great flood and the great drought and the great pruning, and oh, more pruning, and a tree falling on my yard, well. I guess the square watermelon dream of '06 died. Nice knowing you, seedlings! Sorry about the 118-degree summer! Blame it on all the hole in the ozone, probably from the hairspray I used in my formative teenage years, much-needed to achieve the inpenetrable Wall O' Bangs.

So, the backyard had been looking kind of sad. And so did the front yard, because Francisco had maybe stopped coming so frequently. I saw him in August and he said, "Ah, no really need to cut the back today, it's all dead anyway." That sentiment grew into his over-arching philosophy, I suppose. Prune and hack and remove, ergo making the job of gardener almost totally work-free! Fabuloso!

Francisco thought he had the situation ar Chez Brown Yard pretty well tied up. Nice loco white lady with her organic dirt (Ha! Ha! organic dirt!) and her crazytalk of watermelon with squares. Who knows! Beer! Things were good for Francisco.

But then things changed. An interloper tried to steal the crazylady away, and Franceeeesco get very mad.

It all happened innocently enough. I was coming home from visiting Grandma in Orange County one Sunday afternoon, piling out of my Jeep and generally trying to sherpa my way to the house with all my bags when from out of nowhere, literally, where did he come from? A very cute guy offered to help me carry things up to my porch.

Normal people would say "No!" This is Los Angeles, after all. We have crazy psychoticness roaming the streets at all times. But I handed him three more bags of stuff and he helped me lug it all to the patio. He did not, it turns out, mystically appear out of nowhere. He and his father have a landscaping service and tree-trimming business and would I be looking for the services of a very good gardener?

"Because your yard, it is not so much pretty."

"Thank you," I said. "My gardener has a strategy, I think. He's really into conserving water, maybe?"

"Ah," said the serious young man with the very nice dimple. He was quiet for a minute. He looked at my garden, then looked at me. "Todo esta muerto."

"Si," I said. "Todo esta muerto." Cue the sad music, and pass the tequila.

Somehow, somewhere, the United Gardener Interpersonal Communication system must have been triggered. Just the mere presence of another gardener -- a rival, at that -- standing on my front lawn and chitchatting about crabgrass sparked a psychic flurry of competition, or something, because Francisco WHO I HAD NOT SEEN IN THREE WEEKS instantly showed up in his truck with his leafblower at the ready.

He eyed the interloper.

"Quien es this guy?" said Francisco.

"Oh, I didn't get his name," I said. Then I turned to Mystery Landscape Guy. "So, what is your name?"

"I am Abel." (Confession time. Ok, ya'll, I admit it took me a minute. I was like, "You're able? Able to do what?" because... LISTEN. I am not so fast sometimes. You know?)

So there was a pause. And then it sunk in, his name was Abel, and he was... able!!! HAHAHAHA. This is how I think, and it amused me. So I giggled, which didn't do much to break the tension at Chez Muerto Yard.

Francisco eyed Abel. Abel eyed me.

I eyed my cuticles with great interest. Then I looked at Francisco, and he looked so sad. Like that time in fifth grade when I broke up with Kevin Anderson for not holding my hand on the bus. So I turned to Abel and said, "Well, nice to meet you! This is Francisco, my gardener. I gotta go!" Francisco smiled with what was either relief or indigestion, and ... coward that I am, I fled the scene of the showdown. Locked myself inside with a nice adult beverage and four cats and nothing that even vaguely resembled the great outdoors.

But since then, Francisco has been coming every week and my yard is only a little bit muerto. I guess some healthy competition is good for all men. Even those who really, really prefer to cut and run.

This picture has nothing to do with the story.

Posted by laurie at November 13, 2006 10:15 AM