The secret life of plants

Last night Guido and I were in bed. The lights were out. Guido was laying next to me boring me to death about how difficult it is to roll out a decent sweet pastry pie; whilst, bizarrely, all I could think about was how long a rubber plant’s tentacles might grow.

You see, I’ve discovered a wonderful Instagram account called “Boys with Plants”. To be clear. The photographs on that particular site have nothing to do with boys – they are all men – but it definitely involves plants. Some men have their clothes on, some (tantalisingly) do not. Every branch or leaf is strategically but super tastefully placed; if you catch my drift.

“When you embellish interior spaces with houseplants, you’re not just adding greenery,” I butted in abruptly. Guido was right in the middle of describing how he dusts flour on a work surface then kneads vigorously to a dry paste. “These living organisms interact with your body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life,” I said. Spookily I sounded like a member of Royal Kew Gardens and if you visit “Boys with Plants” you’ll realise just how happily you could become one of their latest devotees too.

“Yeah. Anyway,” said Guido, “getting back to my pastry pie mix…”

Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keep respiratory problems at bay. Studies at the University of Norway document that even using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and a hacking cough. And if anyone had bothered to tell me any of this before Winter I’d have just stripped right off and caressed the nearest Begonia.

“Just imagine if we had a fully erect fiddle leaf fig in here,” I said. “At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically breathe like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.”

Well at least I thought that sounded like a good idea, though, if I’m honest, it did have a touch of The Day of The Triffids about it.

“Look,” said Guido rolling over, “you’re a complete disaster area with house plants. You either starve them to death until they crisp up and wither or flood the hell out of them. You’re like the horticultural equivalent of a serial killer.”

That was harsh. But realise there are at least six feather ferns out there who would agree with him. I tried to imagine holding a big prickly cactus between my legs and, frankly, I think it would take far more skill than knocking up a buttery pastry which crumbled easily. So I battled bravely on.

“Okay,” I said, “but how would you feel about being photographed flexing arm muscles whilst grappling with a Monster Philodendron. If you’re feeling shy I’d be willing to throw in a Chrysanthemum.”

Guido rolled over groaning. Sometimes talking to him in bed can be such a tough gig. I could certainly tell selling this – naked with plants thing – was obviously going to be way more difficult to pitch than the – naked with maple syrup thing. So I closed my eyes.  I tried to clear my mind of any mental images of Guido slowly taking all his clothes off and then getting to know a big Geranium better.

But it’s amazing what a fertile imagination can do.

Melvin, and me

The rumour is that there are now two Melania Trumps. Or so conspiracy theorists seem to believe. This got me thinking and it didn’t take me long to begin to love the idea of having my own doppelgänger. Seriously, the possibilities could be endless. So over a lemon risotto last night I asked Guido what he’d think if there were two of me.

“Two,” he said, “of you,” he said, “at exactly the the same time?” he said. There was a short pause whilst he furrowed his brow. “I’d say one was more than enough.”

Personally I thought it was a terrific idea; everyone should have a spare. Provided I could find someone with convincingly bushy eyebrows, a nose shaped like a banana, and a pathological love of baked cheesecake, I reckoned it would be almost impossible to tell us apart. And I’ve already thought of a name for the other me.

I’m calling him Melvin.

With the right tweaks and a few days coaching I reckon Melvin would be completely interchangeable in everything I do.

Ever woken up on a week day and felt like crap? Call Melvin. Late night grocery store shopping on a budget? Call Melvin. A tedious lunch with my mother? Call Melvin. My mother would be so busy drinking gin and talking about herself she probably wouldn’t even notice it wasn’t me.

“Well, not at exactly the same time,” I said. “it’s not like I’m looking for an identical twin to hang out with and wear the same clothes.” I mean really, I’m not a complete freak. “Just someone I could call up once in a while to come over and fill in for me.”

Honestly the more I explained this the more convincingly logical it was becoming.

“Sounds complicated to me,” said Guido, “What if this Melvin guy turns up when you weren’t expecting him and you both ended up in the same place at the same time? How would you dig your way out of that one?”

You see, that’s what I love about my husband, his ability to seek answers to what is already ridiculously implausible. Though I suppose I only had myself to blame. I suddenly found myself wondering if Melania ever had similar conversations with Donald. I’d bet she did.

“And would Melvin be able to do that weird thing to me with his tongue in exactly the same way that you do?”

I almost dropped my spoon. As far as I was concerned the only thing Melvin was going to do with his tongue was talk.

“Well let me tell you something mister,” I said, “ if you think for just one minute that anyone is going to do that weird thing to you with their tongue – which has taken many many years of practice and most of it in the dark I might add  – it’s going to be me. So if this Melvin imposter ever suggests any tongue action I want to be the first to know.”

Mervin’s got some nerve. I didn’t like this side to him one little bit. I was hoping he’d be satisfied with office work, shopping, and lunch with my mother. Hell, I was even going to throw in cheesecake, but no, suddenly Melvin has to go and get his big tongue out.

I ate my risotto. Then later in bed I did that weird thing to Guido with my tongue. And I’m telling you – Melvin doesn’t stand a chance.

On the beach

Yesterday Guido and I flew down to Tenerife for a much needed Spring break.

“The first thing I’m going to do is jump into the ocean,” said Guido with a big smile on his face.

So when we landed and my bag and I were happily re-united at the carousel, I felt a pang of guilt when Guido’s case never made it. I’d have thought that would throw a dampener on the idea of jumping into the ocean, but apparently not.

”Hey, I’m still going in!” Guido said – with an exclamation mark. The combination of Guido and an exclamation mark always makes me nervous.

Although he’s not the best packer in the world, I’ll concede it’s one thing to forget to stash something crucial but it’s a whole other ball game to lose it all. And if you’ve ever seen us stand side by side you’ll quickly realise our swimwear is not something we can easily interchange on account of my stomach, and his washboard.

But what I hadn’t anticipated was that Guido would be willing to substitute his own underwear with his Speedos until the latter showed up. So after checking in, we checked out Playa Del Duque beach where he stripped off his Levi’s and revealed his ability to improvise. It turns out to be one of his biggest assets.

“No one will know I’m wearing boxers instead of beach shorts,” said Guido idiotically. And with that he strode off confidently towards the waves. I wasn’t so sure.

Let’s just say in my opinion those underpants were loose. They didn’t look like anything anybody else was wearing. I could see things dangling through apertures which really shouldn’t be visible to the naked eye in public.

I wandered up to the bar and ordered a Mai Tai and a big plate of French fries. But it was only when I got back to the sun beds that the excitement really kicked in.

Two women with no bikini tops on and with very large breasts laying behind me started “ooing” and “ahing”. One also had a very large pair of binoculars. I’m not in any way attempting to make a humorous connection between large breasts and large binoculars. I thought maybe there was a glamorous Russian’s yacht on the horizon or rare bird on a palm tree. But goodness me, no.

“He’s coming back out,” one of the women with no bikini tops on but with very large breasts said breathlessly. In fact she sounded practically gaga.

I looked over, only to see Guido emerging from the sea.  I dropped a chip. Unfortunately his baggy underwear was now completely water logged and listing ominously below the waterline. Well, about eleven inches below, to be exact. And every one of those eleven inches was crucial, I can tell you. Then he’d yank it all up and jump back in the water.

“Pass the binoculars Veronica,” said one woman with no bikini top on with very large breasts to the other, “you’re totally hogging them.”

And it was absolutely hypnotic. If I’d had a pair myself I’d have been zooming in too. I’m surprised nobody called the Police.

After half a dozen leaps Guido got out of the water and lay next to me dripping.

“That was terrific,” he said, “I feel like I’m tingling all over.”

And he certainly wasn’t the only one.