Mr. Charlton – Green Thumb

I do not have a green thumb, which is to say that Mr. Charlton isn’t skilled in the garden. Plants in my care usually meet their demise, and it’s not for a lack of trying. The only plant I’ve personally grown successfully actually has a story, because it too met its demise. The story’s a funny one, but it’s one that should be told anyways.

Years ago, and I mean almost a decade ago, I went to a friend’s birthday party. Matty showed everyone a great time, and was even handing out old school goodie bags at the end. There was a number of gifts in the bag, toys, candy, gum. He really went all out. There was one curious item at the bottom of the bag though; a bean stalk in a can. When the bean sprout grew big enough, the can promised, you would be able to make out an important message on the leaves.

For some reason or another, some wires connected in my brain that suggested this was a challenge, not a set of instructions. This can of bean stalk had the audacity to call me out, telling secrets to others while remaining a mystery to me. It knew that I had no abilities when it came to gardening. Here was this can, this gift, and it was laughing at me. Smirking from the bottom of the bag. It might as well have been a can of assholes.

I was determined to read this message. I was going to find out this bean stalk’s message, and the only way I knew how to coax it out was to take care of the little fellow. So I took it home, followed the instructions of ‘put it by some light and water it every day’, and that’s what I did. Everyday, I went to the window where it was sitting, made sure he was getting enough sun, then I’d water him.

At first, there wasn’t much of anything. For the first few days, nothing. Then after that, a little bud appeared. He didn’t grow much after that. For about a week at a half, he didn’t do to much, except be tiny and green. It wasn’t wilting, it wasn’t turning brown, it happened to remain a dwarf bean stalk. Even though he wasn’t getting any bigger, I was still happy to go through the motions every day to make sure he was getting plenty of sun and water. Then, almost over night, it shot up. And it grew. It grew to need a chop stick to wrap around, then a longer chop stick, then piece of doweling rod I bought from a garden center. Soon this little bean stalk was over four feet tall, and still growing out of the same little can.

Now, not being much of a gardener, I never bothered to repot the not so little fellow, simply because I would have killed the plant. That didn’t matter though, because the secret message on the leaves was revealing itself. I’m not sure how they did it, but the letters ‘P’ ‘E’ ‘A’ were stamped onto one of the larger leaves. With still more message to come, I made sure he was getting taken care of.

Enter my neighbor, we’ll call him J. The guy living next door was a bit a nuisance. I made the mistake a couple of months prior of knocking on his door and offering him a beer. He was a shorter guy with a Napolean complex, and introducing myself turned out to be an error, because then he was knocking on my door every other day looking to bum a cigarette. Basically the guy was a dirtbag.

One night there’s a knock at the door, and there’s J, drunk and high on cocaine. I know this, because the first thing he said was “Hey man, listen, I’m drunk and high on cocaine right now, and I locked myself out of my apartment”. I suggest that if he needs to get back into his place, he should go out my balcony, hop over the fence to his place, and go through his balcony door to get back in. He agrees, and marches over to the balcony door.

My bean stalk is in the path between him and my balcony, and he ends up trampling my plant. Didn’t knock it over, full on stomped on the sucker. He hops out the door, clamours over the fence, and succeeds in getting back into his place. I’m holding what remains of my plant when he comes back to brag of his success. He sees the dead plant, apologizes, then hurries back to his apartment. In a few seconds, he returns with two warm beers, apologizes again, then goes back home.

I never did find out exactly what the plant spelled out. Was it ‘Peace’, and offering humanity a message? Or was it simply ‘Peas’, because that’s the kind of plant it was? I’ll never know, and it will forever remain a mystery.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton.

p.s. Thanks again Matty. If you’re reading this, that was still one of the best birthday parties I’ve been to. Every time I see a pea plant, I think about that party.


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