What IS it with New Yorkers? Whatever we’re cheerfully crazy about on the West Coast is dismissed by somber-clothed subway sprinters as idiotic. Or at least that’s the vibe I got from a reporter with New York Magazine, who disguised her weather envy with a lot of polite questions. Evidently what she really wanted was yet more reasons to diss succulents.
Jamie Lauren Keiles emailed that she was researching an article on how to kill succulents, and would I be available for a phone interview? I responded that I had killed plenty and would be happy to explain how.
“What kind of asshole hates a plant? Me, I guess. A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop in Bed-Stuy, glowering at a jade plant in a ceramic mug, unable to get the phrase benign uterine polyp out of my head. The surge of disgust took me by surprise. For most of my life, I believed myself to like succulents. I loved them, even. In the same way that a baby’s oversize head and round eyes provoke empathy, the plump and whimsical leaves of these desert plants felt undeniably cute. But as with babies, more plants does not necessarily equal more cute. One baby? Adorable. Hundreds of babies in twee upcycled teacups atop every coffee-shop table and windowsill in your neighborhood? A nightmare.”
I emailed her: “just read your article on killing succulents, and would like you to know that they forgive you, sappy plants that they are.”
To not leave the question begging—and because succulent lovers (as well as haters) need to know—
“But what if one did want to kill a succulent? Or many succulents? Hypothetically speaking.
‘Their roots are not set up to deal with too much water,’ Baldwin told me. ‘So the No. 1 way to kill a succulent is to love it too much.’
With this in mind, we succulent-haters wait in hiding. It’s only a matter of time.”
Btw, I had told Jamie, “Every reporter’s favorite quote from me seems to be, ‘People used to say they hate succulents. Now they say they love them.’ So would you please use a different one?”
“Baldwin worked with succulents before the current fad, in an era when plant-lovers considered them ‘common’ and ‘for poor people.'”
But hey, she did mention my books. Even linked to them…more or less. (After the article appeared without links, I sent her a heart-rending reminder.)