I got a cactus last weekend. You probably already know this because I won’t shut up about it. It came in a sand art planter that screams 70s so much, I have named the plant Jonathan Livingston Cactus. I just checked my phone, and it contains fourteen pics of Jon. Fourteen. More pictures exist of this cactus than of my baptism. I cleared out a space of honor on the plant shelf in my kitchen window then ran downstairs to see if passersby on 9th Street could see him. They could. I IM’d my buddy Damian, who is some sort of plant whisperer, about care and feeding. A little bit of water every other week and plenty of sun. Then I went to bed, content in knowing I had given a cactus a good home. If I remembered dreams, I would say I dreamt about pushing Jon in a swing garlanded with gerbera daisies.
Upon waking up Sunday morning, I got my customary swig of Diet Coke out of the fridge, and he was there on his shelf being all cactus-y. I imagined myself telling people things like “Oh, that’s so Jon!” I wondered whom I could call that morning to tell about the cactus but decided that maybe 8am on Sunday wasn’t the best time for breathless cactus news.
Then the wheels started turning: What was I doing up at 8am on a Sunday? Don’t I have a life? Has my life shrunk down to the point where purchasing a cactus becomes a life event? Remember when you had dreams? You don’t deserve a cactus like Jon!
And because Baby Jesus has a sense of humor, on my Facebook page later that morning there appeared a link to some Buzzfeed clickbait about a millionaire poker player hailed as “Instagram’s Playboy King.” The accompanying 36 pictures are an orgy of cash, infinity pools, Bentleys the color of Pepto Bismal that’s been left with the cap off –and ladies. There are so many ladies that I’m sure he refers to them by some collective noun like “poon” or “friction.”
He doesn’t have room in his life for an insignificant cactus, even one named after a bird who topped the New York Times’ Bestseller List for 38 weeks. Instead, this is what passes as a throwaway byte of social media:
Now I know I’m a gay and all, but it would be nice, just once, to be asked, “Hey Chris, do you mind if me and the rest of the cast of Anal Biscuits 5 lounge around with some of your guns?” so I could post on the social medias about how I turned down the cast of Anal Biscuits 5 when they wanted to lounge with my guns.
The more I glanced thru the Buzzfeed article, the more nervous I became looking at the ladies. Are the guns’ safeties on? Does she know sticking a gun in your mouth isn’t erotic? Isn’t that how Jon Erik Hexum died? Won’t the pointy heels on the stripper shoes tear those 11,000 thread count sheets? I just made that bed! At some point, one of them is going to lean against the glass. I can’t have a view with smudges. I just know the one in the sunglasses is going to want to look thru the ultra-noculars by the window and she won’t ask how to use it. That one closest to me looks too much like Maria Conchita Alonso. What is Maria Conchita Alsonso up to now? Please God, wipe these impure images of Maria Conchita Alsonso doing things from my mind. Did any of these women come to LA thinking they were going to be the next Maria Conchita Alonso?
Ladies! Just take off your ridiculous shoes and relax.
Then a new comment appeared in thread about the millionaire poker playboy. My friend Dave linked to an article outlining how this guy had had three heart attacks by the age of 30. A sense of peace overtook me. Yes, I was the kind of guy who gets excited over a new cactus in a sand art planter. I don’t need to be surrounded by women in impractical swimwear to achieve fulfillment. I have a cactus named Jon. I don’t have to worry about a cactus going off unexpectedly and blowing away my lower jaw. Puppy teeth are a thousand times more painful than the spines on this cactus.
I saw a wise and intelligent internet meme once that told me how introverts don’t derive energy from other people. I mean, what would I talk about with these women? Certainly not proper weapons handling. I got the cactus during a walk thru Flushing with my friend Dan. It was sitting there on a lonely table by the gift shop bathroom of the Queens Botanical Gardens, which wasn’t even really open because no plants have sprouted yet. However, we did manage to sit on a under a gazebo in comfy chairs saying nothing but “Yup” for fifteen minutes.
I am blessed that a gift store cactus raised my heartbeat and dilated my pupils. And I don’t mean “blessed” in the Facebook sense of “I’m blessed I got these concert tickets to an artist I am truly blessed to have the good taste to appreciate” or “I’m blessed my boyfriend picked up that smoothie I was going on about this morning on his way home.” No, I’m talking about being blessed in that my life is so much a Swan Road, as the Vikings would call a smooth sea, that anthropomorphizing a cactus is enough to tip the scales to content.
I have a new cactus, his name is Jon, and he makes me very happy.