Yesterday at a dinner with some people; I told an old friend of mine I had bought a chilli plant. “Is that it?” he asked me. “Is that the whole story?” The people around the table laughed and I admitted that it was indeed the end of my story. I tried to save the awkward situation by explaining it’s the reason I write, since my stories make more sense in writing. “Well you should write a blog post then, or send us all an email,” my friend (what a dick!) said.
The mistimed stand-up
“I bought a chili plant.”
“Don’t try and change the conversation”, she said, looking straight into my eyes as if she was a teacher talking to a child in a classroom. I didn’t understand what she was talking about; there hadn’t been a conversation before. Perhaps she interpreted the silent stares we had exchanged during the ceremony as a conversation. They had shifted from neutral to angry disappointment without any of us realising how, or why. Ok, that last part is not entirely true.
“I just don’t know how often I should water it; the peppers keep getting deeper and deeper red. I read somewhere that it makes them spicier. I got to do something with my chilli plant. Now that I have a chilli plant.”
She looked out of the large café windows, as if she had given up on me and was now bracing herself for another distracting and irrelevant side-track to what was really going on. She had kicked off her high heels and was slowly rubbing her ankle. As if that would help.
I noticed the wrinkle running across her forehead, it used to just only come out when she was upset, but it was now a permanent feature. Our relationship had a similar feel, the occasional disagreements and arguments that used to come and go now felt like permanent features, lingering just below the surface, ready to jump at any time.
I loosened my tie and took a sip of my double espresso. It had already gone cold and the bitter taste made me cringe. I always forget that espressos need to be consumed as a shot; quick and aggressively. But as the chilli-plant conversation petered out in the airy afternoon bar, and our well-dressed appearances had since long lost their straight lines, the idea of doing anything the right way, including watering a chilli plant, felt like wishful thinking.
I had another look on the invite I had put in my coat pocket. My ex-girlfriend was now married, despite the fact that I stood up at the part where the priest asks if anyone has any objections, and just stood there, not knowing what to say, feeling how my girlfriend’s hand slowly slipped out of my grip.
“But I bought a chilli plant for us, so we could have something together”, I tried again. But she had already started reading The Sunday Times, and it was not so she could read the garden section and look for watering instructions for chilli plants.