Friday, February 4, 2011



My husband and I are the DUMBEST people ever to walk the face of the earth.  Today I discovered we have been nurturing an orchid plant for the past 8 YEARS with water, sunlight, and fresh air only to discover that it is FAKE!!! How can this be possible you ask?  Let me explain.

Eight years ago my husband Ken gave me the gift of a beautiful, white, orchid plant as an act of reconciliation for something he never actually did wrong.  It was after one of the countless times I pushed him past his limit to the point where he struck out against me, only then to call attention to how poorly was being treated.  Why I read so much criticism into things where it was never intended is beyond me.  I believe it must stem from my own lifelong feeling of somehow being wronged.  I think it was that Barbie Dream House Santa Claus never brought me back in 1982 that makes me sensitive to rejection and anticipate always being let down.  At least let's just go with that explanation for now.
I SINCERELY thought the plant was real.  Passively killing living items under my care is something of a pattern for me specifically limited to instances where there are no serious consequences for such action, or inaction to be precise.  I find it difficult to care for any living thing that cannot communicate it's needs to me.  Even a newborn baby can at least cry to tell me it needs something.  It's not like DHS (Department of Houseplant Services) is going to bust down my door and raid my houseplants because of an anonymous tip regarding a neglected fern that my neighbor caught sight of and felt so much concern that she was compelled to contact the state and complain.  Because of my green thumb disability, I am not at all responsible for houseplant care in the Valium Home.  Ken is.

The moment Ken gave me my beautiful orchid I returned the sentiment by giving him full responsibility for its care.  All I had to do was find the flowering family addition a suitable spot in my living room for display.  The live beauty had woken up the tired room and all was right with the world.

Fast forward eight years and two children later on a sunny day revealing how much dust had accumulated in my neglected living room.  I began very gingerly wiping the thick green leaves of the plant with a soft, damp, cotton cloth to remove a thick deposit of dust which resembled a warm fur coat wrapped around the plant.  Normally I don't touch this or any other fauna on my premises (per Ken's instructions), but seeing the dust was giving me a nervous twitch and I figured if I just wiped some leaves off I couldn't hurt anything.  Then I slowly caressed the stem with the dust cloth working my way up to the blooming finish and delicate white petals.  I was amazed at how smoothly the dust wiped away and when the plant didn't lose any petals from my fondling, I became incredibly impressed as to how hearty this plant really was.  My heart also swelled with even greater love and affection for my husband due to his incredibly strong care taking skills.  I was feeling so proud of myself for marrying such a great man.

As I folded the thick, waxy, green leaf at the stem's trunk I observed how it did not push back with resistance thanks to to the wire running through the middle of the leaf.  The moment I saw the crafting glue which bonded the plastic stems I realized something further wasn't right with this creation straight from Mother Nature's hands.  I thought perhaps the glue was some sort of sticky sap emitting from the plant as an expression of how much life it had to give, which it just couldn't contain it any longer.  It wasn't until I got close enough to really look at the stamen that my orchid morphed from one of God's creatures into one of Target's retail products.  Then I thought again and gave my master gardening sister-in-law, Lynn, a call. 

"Hi Lynn, did you have any idea that the orchid in my living room is fake?", I inquired, "because I have been under the impression that it was alive." I was half expecting her to be just as astounded as I was.

"Yeah Carrie, that orchid plant is not real," she responded like I was asking her this as some kind of a joke.

Lynn knows me well enough to have faith that I am a reasonably intelligent person whose faculties are all firing at full speed.  I know this because she leaves her son in my care for extended periods of time.  But this phone call may have changed all of that forever.  I could tell she was trying to process how I could possibly be THAT STUPID.

"REALLY?!" I exclaimed. "Because I thought it was real!  Is your brother playing some kind of joke on me?  Because I know he thinks I believe it is real," I replied while reassessing my husband's intelligence and aptitude for pulling one over on me.  I began to also reassess my current overwhelming feeling of love and affection for him.  "Ken even intercepts any minimal attempt I have ever made to water the thing by grabbing the watering pitcher out of my hand and giving me a firm scolding about how if I water it too much it will die," I confessed, beginning to believe this must be the longest running practical joke in the history of marriage.

It wasn't until I later spoke on the phone with Ken and chastised him for lying to me all these years, that I realized that we had actually both been lying to ourselves.  My husband had no idea it was fake and no amount of trying to convince him over the phone was going to shift his perception.  He scolded me not to touch the plant, bend the leaves, or pull at the stem because I was going to kill it.  Ken had to come home at the end of his workday to see for himself and witness the tragedy of the truth.  Once he recovered from the blow to his ego, that tragedy turned into hilarity faster than the orchid turned from living to fake.  Our truth shifted, and now this plant has made us happier (content in its own current falseness) than any living beauty ever could.  It was one more of the many moments throughout my life where I realized our happiness is determined by our own design. 

I should also tell you that, based on my experience with this plant before it became fake, I had come to believe orchids are WAY more durable than people give them credit.  My confidence in the sustainability and minimal care of my gift has inspired me to always choose orchids over flowers to my post-partum girlfriends when they were still in the hospital recovering from childbirth.  I would tell the new mommies how this plant basically takes care of itself and only needed watering about once a month.  The last thing they needed was one more thing to take care of, what with the responsibility of new human life and all.  It is no wonder now, why I never found my gift in their living rooms throughout the years to come.

I get horrible headaches when my kids cut flowers from the yard for me, so I make them keep them in a vase on the back porch. Up until now, my statement for the past 8 YEARS has been, "Orchids are the only flowers which do not give me a headache." Now they will be the only flowers which make me laugh so hard I have to cry and call Ken to share.  Perception truly is the key to happiness.

The Magic Orchid:


  1. You are so clever - I will read every post!

  2. This journal entry is not dumb at all, in fact, it is brilliant! We really do CHOOSE the life we have and how we experience it! I loved it!