My Misadventures as a Substitute House Plant Caretaker

Terry Mansfield

I thought I could handle a simple task while my wife was away. I was wrong.

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Mansfield living room in Chesapeake, VirginiaPhoto by author

One time my wife Kayoko went to Japan to visit her sister for about a month. She gave me instructions for watering the house plants while she was gone.

I diligently carried out her instructions, or so I thought. When she returned home, I proudly showed her around all the house plants that I had watered vigorously every couple of days.

She looked at them and said, “Thank you, Terry. But you gave the plants way too much water. And you didn’t need to water this one at all.” “Why not?” I asked. She said, “Because it’s a silk flower that’s fake.”

I was embarrassed and, frankly, peeved by how I had messed up my substitute gardening duties. I told Kayoko that she wouldn’t have to worry again about me overwatering her real plants or watering fake flowers.

She asked, “Why not?” and I said, “Because you’re never, ever going to Japan again! You can stay here and take care of these stupid plants yourself.” Yes, I was very mature about the whole situation.

Well, that was several years ago and, of course, she’s been back to Japan a couple of times since my botched substitute house plant caretaker job. However, she still wouldn’t let me off the hook, so I had to take care of her darn plants again while she was away.

But given another chance, I did a much better job and only drowned a couple of plants. And since she had removed the fake flower, I couldn’t possibly give it water — so that problem was solved.

I’ve come to the sad conclusion that not only do I NOT have a green thumb, but I’m not sure I have a thumb at all when it comes to gardening.

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Chesapeake, VA
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