One of the curses of having interesting friends is that they can be a bit too interesting. See, they share things. Horrible, mind-altering things. Things that leave me in a little fetal ball, crying “Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?” and looking for sharp instruments with which I plan to trim my fingernails to the shoulder. And those are just with the puns. No, some of these disturbing images and concepts are so foul that I immediately share them with the Czarina.
Back twenty-five years ago, I worked as a groundskeeper for a now-long-defunct Texas Instruments site in Carrollton, Texas, and I had quite the assemblage of odd co-workers. One’s name was, quite literally, “Bubba”, and I’m pretty sure that this was his legal name on his driver’s license and birth certificate. Bubba was an absolute salt-of-the-earth guy in his own way, except for one particularly vile habit. See, he had a thing for various gas-producing victuals, ranging from Ranch Style Beans to Mickey’s Big Mouth Ale, and he wasn’t afraid to share the end output. Problem is, he’d wait for just the right moment, right when our natural instincts to trust our fellow man were at their height, emit a silent-but-deadly that could char the nose hairs out of a dead rhinoceros, and then ask innocently “Do you guys smell barbecue?” Yes, in fact, we did, as the delicate scrollwork that used to be our sinus bones was turned into smoke and ash.
Now, a quarter of a century later, I’m regularly reminded that I associate with friends who carry on the scientific, theological, and philosophical tradition, as if Bubba were right there in the cargo elevator with me. While they might not physically subject me to a haze of hydrogen sulfide and methane, the effect on brain tissue is much the same.
Case in point. My friend Bon Steele was apparently at the garden center today, and she passed on a photo of a kid’s garden starter kit. Specifically, by way of this, I learned about the Growums line of gardening kits, and I can’t argue with the basic idea. It was one of the characters that burned my frontal lobes. Namely, the introduction to “Frank Cilantro“.
Yeah. Frank Cilantro.
And that’s when it went wrong, Your Honor. “Elvis Parsley” was to be expected, as would “John Lemongrass”. My mind doesn’t go that way, and suddenly I was picturing similar kits with “Jerry Gardenia“, “Jello Bicalcarata,” “DeeDee Romaine“, and “Turner Vanda Blarcum“. I realized how far I’d sunk when suddenly the thought of naming a plant “Nancy Spathophyllum” almost, ALMOST, made sense. Sorry, but NOBODY is going to eat an onion nicknamed “G.G. Allium” if they’re even remotely familiar with the reference.
And then it really got to me. Suddenly, I realized that I had the perfect spokesfigure for a new line of high-intensity herbicides. A pernicious weed with thick-frame birth control glasses and smarmy smirk, that hyperfocused on one subject and wouldn’t shut up about it, before being burned down to the soil line by a welcome rain of poisons and acids. The world’s ready for “Coriander Doctorow,” isn’t it?
Oh, don’t look at me like that. This is your dead rhinoceros moment. Besides, what’s he going to do: sue for copyright infringement?