You say tomato. I say that tomato is ruining my reputation.

I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but I found something in my kitchen window today that was terrifying.

I’m not talking about the four hollow dead fly husks that crunched as I gathered them into my thin, waxy paper napkin.

Or the dust that’s no longer dusty and, instead, is devolving with residual kitchen grease into some sort of sticky glue-like substance that’s likely to self-animate and smother us all in our sleep.


I’m talking about this:

It’s a…

(sorry – deep breath)

It’s a tom…

(slow and steady, Beth)

It’s a tomato plant, you guys, and I don’t know quite how to tell you this, so I’m just going to take the plunge and get it all out there…

it’s alive!

I know. I’m at a loss, too. I mean, obviously.

I got this plant – and another just like it – for Mother’s Day from my children.

I get plants for Mother’s Day every year from my children.

I’m starting to suspect that normal moms like plants. (Is that true? Do you like plants, moms?)

My mom likes plants.

My mom keeps plants alive, even.

And her plants produce food to nourish her body and blossoms to nourish her soul.

She’s, like, the Plant Whisperer.

I, on the other hand, am the Plant Killer.

As in, if the world ever needs a skilled Plant Assassin, then the world need look no further than me, for I am the Mad Scientist Plant Killing Super Ninja.

I kill plants in broad daylight and in the dead of night. I kill plants with malevolent neglect and solicitous, overzealous attention. I kill highly-placed political plants with legions of guards and top-notch protection details. And I kill brutal, back-alley, drug-dealing plants who’ve survived for years with their scrappy street savvy and networks of scuzzy informants.

I am the scary story that Plant Parents tell their sweet little Plant Children to frighten them into planty compliance. I am the Evil Stepmother – the Baba Yaga – of the plant world. Rigorously ruthless. Consistently cruel.

Plants shudder when they’re hauled, screaming and crying, into my killer’s den.

I’ve build my entire plant-killing empire on my unswerving reputation as plant poison, personified.

So now, perhaps, you’ll understand my dismay at being so publicly thwarted – humiliated – by this tomato plant that, for two whole weeks, has neither withered nor waned and then, in an in-your-face move that I can hardly ignore, audaciously blossomed.

As though it intends to do something really drastic like bear fruit.

It’s unconscionable. And I certainly can’t tolerate this kind of plant behavior in my house.

So, tell me. What’s a hard-as-nails Plant Killer to do now, huh?

I’m at an utter loss and open to ideas.


Anyone at all…


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15 responses to “You say tomato. I say that tomato is ruining my reputation.”

  1. Ah, a kindred spirit. I was once asked by a neighbor, also a plant whisperer, to watch over her million houseplants while she vacationed for a week. The request was made among a group of friends…who all went silent upon hearing her ask the question of ME. DEAD SILENCE. Followed by someone saying in a small, but shocked, voice: “You’re…asking…HER?”. More silence. Then, “You know she’s wanted in at least TWO provinces for the murder of countless houseplants, right?”. Alas, I could offer no defense. I can’t tell you how happy I am to find someone else with a black thumb. It makes me feel like I’m part of a team, you know? 😉

  2. Hilarious! I have to admit that I like plants . . . at least, I like the *idea* of them. But, alas, I’m a plant killer too. The only thing that has survived since I became a mother is an aloe plant. But that species is practically invincible, I’m convinced, but even it is starting to look a bit yellow. (Oh, maybe I should water it today. I don’t think I’ve done that for close to a month. ) Last summer my eldest wanted to plant flowers, so I cleared a very small patch of earth in some communal ground outside our apartment building and helped him and his little brother poke seeds into the dirt. Then we tried to remember to cart water down from the 4th floor to water them every day that it didn’t rain. The plants grew, survived our frequent neglect, and developed buds. My sons watched in anticipation, eager to finally see the flowers. But on the eve of their blooming, some Cretan uprooted our garden and scattered its popsicle fence far and wide. My eldest cried. Sobbed with heartbreak. Thankfully, the Cretan missed the two smallest plants, only an inch or two tall, and I transplanted these into pots and brought them indoors for the kids. They survived to develop buds and flowers before one withered up and died (although, I think it was supposed to do that after producing seeds, but I’m not an expert), and the other developed an infestation of some gross colony of insects, and we tossed it in a dumpster. We saved some seeds, but I haven’t had the motivation to plant them yet this season.

  3. Hilarious! And I love the photos 😀

    I had some sort of plant in college – can’t remember what it was; it had a thick, sturdy trunk and long floppy leaves. The leaves fell off, so then I just had a trunk in a pot in my room. It constituted a highly attractive design feature, although it pumped very little oxygen into the room owing to the lack of foliage, and my friend encouraged me to perform a swap with the identical specimen in the postgrad common room. If I were you, I’d find a friend whose tomato plant has withered, and exchange it when her back’s turned. It’s the only option, really.

  4. Punish it (and regain your reputation) by Devouring Its Young!!!


    Those were some _excellently_ well-hammed pix, btw–loved the post! And now I can finally see the familial resemblance between you and the twins… 😀

  5. LOL. Love the post and the expressions. 😀

    I haven’t had plants in years. First it was because the bamboo shoots and cacti I had both died. Then the tree I had in my dorm actually LIVED and then I moved far away where it was unreasonable to take it, and I had an unreasonable attachment to it. Then my mom exploded her house in plants of every kind, which freaked me out. (My kids were the awesome children who turned that around by being scared of her plants. These are indeed my offspring. She would only listen to them, and my dad was quite happy, hehe.)

    Now we have our own home, with a yard for the first time, and this weird idea came into my head that I might grow something, but not too much since it’d be an experiment, lol. There were flowers here already, but none of my choosing, and I still resent some of them, because I don’t care to weed or do much else to make them look nice. So I pulled up everything in one flowerbed and planted some sunflowers, because I thought they’d be SIMPLE and cute in front of the house. Not that they’re growing too much, but we’re trying. I even remember to water them some days, since they and the hose are kind of in my way anyway. 😛 Then I planted some peas for my daughter who devours them, and those are growing crazy despite something digging up a bunch of the seeds initially. So my first plants are showing some progress.

    But before either of those sprouted anything, I cleaned up some brush, leaves, and strange junk that was out behind our home left there by previous owners. Underneath it all was something that looked rather like it was once intentionally planted. So it got a little bigger and it became obvious that it was RHUBARB. Pie material. And I thought what a perfect plant it is for me, because I didn’t have to plant it, I did nothing to keep it alive, and now I’ve gone and made it into dessert. Score!

  6. Honor compels me – at great peril – to follow Webb’s heroic example and also confess. Your mother is innocent. It was I (and my eponymous grandson) who watered the ill-begotten Cousins of Nightshade in your absence. Let the acrimony fall on me; let you mother be spared. It was I. (Okay… the kid too… it was us.)

  7. I confess: I’m one of the Sunday school teachers who inflicted this torment on you. Please accept my sincere regrets. If you feel the plant continues to thwart you, you could try “accidentally” watering it with bleach.

    Of course, if life hands you tomatoes, you could make tomato sauce…

  8. I see that you recognize that your mom and your mom-in-law are not alike, noting that you and Greg gave me that gorgeous bouqet of CUT flowers for Mom’s Day. You’ve noticed my poinsettias don’t last til Christmas?

    • Aha! The plant had an accomplice!!!

      Beth, this post just confirms for me that we are kindred spirits! I only feel guilty over the death of one plant. The person who gave it to me ”raised it from baby”. At least freezing to death is supposed to be somewhat gentle….

  9. Ha, ha, ha!!! As the person who once killed a cactus back in college, I can offer you no advice, except that perhaps it is time to start calling Spielberg and Lucas, because clearly you have a movie franchise in the making. Oh wait, has Attack of the Killer Tomatoes been done already?

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