Hey you.

Yes, girl, you — the childless modern millennial all cooped up in her tiny apartment during a pandemic with nothing to occupy your time but online pruning tutorials and no living creatures around to satisfy your deepest, most desperate instinctual needs to control and care for something, but me and my fellow helpless calatheas and mini parlor palms (and the cat, I guess).

Look, I didn't ask for this. It's now been four weeks of this weirdly excessive attention and you need to knock it off.

I understand this is a very stressful time. You have relatives and friends in vulnerable health categories. The ambulance sirens blare more frequently every day. You even saw the interior of your therapist's house last week during a FaceTime session and are still struggling to process that. But honestly, were the literal gnats crawling out of my soggy soil not enough of a signal that I absolutely should not have been watered yet again? What are you not understanding here?

At first, I was flattered that you'd finally started to properly take care of me. This soil doesn't fertilize itself, you know? I patiently posed for your photos, even proudly fluffed my mesophyll tissue a little and elongated a couple stems to give you those coveted tweet likes.

But then things got strange. I should have seen it coming when you added the #ProudPlantParent organic cotton tote and matching hat to your digital shopping cart in between sobs as you calculated the number of days since you'd seen a human. Real talk: Did you personally birth me? (Gross.) No? Then may I suggest that you are not, in fact, a #ProudPlantParent —or a parent of anything, for that matter.

After the numerous near-drownings from over-watering, next it was “rotating” me to “get the right amount of sunlight.” Guess what, dumbo, the sunlight is the same as it always has been. I was just fine on my original windowsill, but no, now we have to march from the bedroom to the dining room to the living room, only to wind up back on the bedroom sill. Is this your attempt at indoor exercise or something? Please just let me photosynthesize in peace.

I cringed hard enough to pop a few vacuoles when the box of assorted pastel pots showed up the next week on your doorstep. Seriously, you put warehouse workers' and delivery drivers' lives at risk because you woke up at 2 a.m. randomly wondering if my roots were approaching my drainage holes and I “might” need to be re-potted?

Spoiler alert: They weren't and I didn't.

And let's not even talk about that pruning. I swear, I am going to have no greenery left by June if we keep this up. For the last time, cutting away dead spots on a leaf has zero effect on the dead in a human crisis. None!

Eventually, my patience with your botanical buffoonery wore thin. I started dropping leaves. I let my base go brown. I fully flopped over. Would that finally signal to you that your incessant running to “tend” to me in new illogical ways every day (instead of just sitting down at your nice mid-century modern desk for once and doing your work and trying to, you know, keep your job) was going to eventually leave us both homeless?

Surprise, surprise, it didn't work. Instead, you cried for the 700th time that day and frantically texted photos of me (now dubbed your “poor sick bébé” for some reason that I'm sure we will need to address with the therapist) to your friend who has only been encouraging this madness by responding to your daily updates with green heart emojis. For the last time, put the shears down and get a hobby already. Calligraphy. Ancient Greek magic tricks. Dishwasher refurbishment. Something that doesn't involve innocent living things.

I know the truth hurts, but trust me, misting my leaves one more time will not stop you and the people you love from getting sick and potentially dying alone because we are watching an unspeakable human health tragedy, political tragedy, and economic tragedy simultaneously unfold in real-time. Misting will also not significantly improve your Instagram photo quality. Just apply a filter and my leaves will look greener, okay?

Also, the cat would like to request that you stop brushing him every 90 minutes.

Illustration by Tim McGeeView full-size cover art.


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