When I left the salon I worked at in Hermosa Beach, Calif., back in 1998 to come back to my hometown and open my own salon, the salon owner I had worked for presented me with a beautiful, 3-foot-tall, Janet Craig-variety corn plant — aka a dracaena.
I promptly burst into tears.
Not entirely because I was so touched by the thought or the gift or because I was going to miss the girls at Hermosa Nail Company soooo terribly badly (although I would and I do), but because Traci had just given me something that was alive. Alive, and would require being kept alive.
I can keep a puppy alive. Just so ya know. Puppies bark and whine and paw at you when they are hungry or need to go outside. And if you don’t feed them, they eat your furniture. They are very interactive.
Plants? Not so much.
In other, seemingly unrelated, news, if you ever want to see me miserable you can poison me with Stargazer lilies. (FYI: The dracaena plant is in the lily family.)
I managed to keep that dracaena plant alive. In fact, I have had it for nearly 20 years now. That plant and I have had our ups and downs together, but we both manage to keep plugging along.
In even more seemingly unrelated news — I am not at all superstitious (crossed fingers of one hand behind back while knocking on wood with the other). OK, maybe a little.
And so it has come to pass that that stupid corn plant has come to embody the very soul of my business. As long as the corn plant does well, I do well. No really. It has nothing to do with superstition — I came to this conclusion through observable science. Yeah. Science. That’s it.
Last week I went to water the plant and noticed it was doing something entirely new. What were those long things that had sprouted out of the top that were most definitely not new leaves?
HOLY POTATOES! The thing BLOOMS?!
Instantly I ran to the Internet and started Googling my little fingers to the bone.
Well I’ll be. These plants bloom.
Apparently it’s quite rare to have one bloom and no one is quite sure what circumstances make them do so. I found several houseplant-geek forum posts of people who reported having their plants for as long as 25 years without knowing it would bloom. Some people said theirs bloom every year.
The Internet also promised “extremely fragrant” blossoms when the long stalks of tiny buds opened in star-like white flowers. Fragrant and sticky as they drool sap not unlike a honeysicle plant.
Yesterday I opened the door of the salon to the overwhelming stench of Stargazer lilies.
My neighboring massage therapist loves it. She thinks the whole floor of the building smells like honey.
I have to work in that room — in 300 square feet trapped with a 6-foot-tall blooming lily plant. I feel like I’m under attack by an alien species.
I can’t open the windows — the salon would be swarmed with bees trying to get at that plant.
And as soon as the sun began to set, the smell got worse. My already tainted breathing space was suddenly attacked by an explosion of scent intent on choking me to death.
My head hurt so bad I nearly declared the salon a HAZMAT disaster.
But I won’t cut the offending flower stalks off and give them to the massage therapist as a gift. No. Seeing as how it seems such a rare “treat” for one of these plants to bloom, I figure it must be a sign from Serendipity herself. A gift from the universe. A sign.
This headache must be a rare blessing indicating some sort of ultimate greatness for my business and career...right?
Please tell me I’m right.
Here’s hoping that it takes another 17 years for this plant to bloom!
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.