My Weirdest Date of 2022

A few months ago, I went for a drink with a girl. The drink went quite well and afterwards I gave her a lift back home and she invited me into her house.

As she led me into the living room, I noticed that there were a lot of plants around the place, so many in fact that I decided to comment on it.

‘I’m guessing you like plants?’ I said, expecting her to simply confirm she was, indeed, pretty fond of plants.

Instead, she said something altogether more unexpected:

‘Oh I see,’ I said, glancing around and trying not to become too concerned by the large number of plants in the immediate vicinity.

‘It makes sense if you think about it,’ the girl continued. ‘You see, at the beginning of last year, I realised I had a lot of negative people in my life that were making my personal atmosphere very toxic, like emotionally. But plants are, like, the opposite of toxic. They do all these good things for the atmosphere, like making it clean with their photosynthesis and shit. So I just thought why not have less shit people in my life and more plants?’ She shrugged. ‘That’s science for you.’

She looked at me and smiled, eyebrows raised, as if expecting me to validate the credibility of her hypothesis. I smiled back and chose not to point out that her use of the words ‘photosynthesis and shit’ to describe her theory had somewhat undermined its legitimacy as a scientific concept.

Besides, although the way she had phrased it was slightly intense, the core idea of having less shit people and more plants didn’t seem like the unhealthiest coping mechanism in the world, so I decided to explore it further.

I moved across the room and picked a spider plant up off the windowsill.

Who’s this replacing then? I asked.

‘Oh that’s my ex Sarah’, the girl replied nonchalantly. ‘She was dead clingy, you know, wanted to hang out with me all the time, always needed to be validated.’

‘It honestly is really hard to kill,’ she continued. ‘Which is kind of ironic because Sarah was also really hard to get rid of.’

I stared at her, incredulous, momentarily fearing for my life. ‘Get rid of…?’

She laughed. ‘Don’t worry, I didn’t kill her off or anything. But I did have to break up with her like six times.’

‘Oh right,’ I said. ‘Haha. Ha. Haha. Ha.’ I placed the plant incarnation of Sarah back on the windowsill and picked up a nearby cactus.

‘Let me guess? Another one of your exes?’ I joked.

‘Yes’, she said, her face completely deadpan. She reached across and took the cactus from my hands. ‘This is one I got to replace my ex-boyfriend Chris. He was like the opposite of Sarah. Wasn’t emotionally available enough.’

She paused.

She put cactus Chris down and picked up another plant.

Who’s that? I asked, slightly apprehensive of the answer.

‘My mate, Callum,’ she said, passing the plant to me.

She shrugged.

The girl removed plant Callum from my hands and placed it back on the coffee table next to another plant with sharp pointy leaves.

I gestured towards it. ‘What’s this?’

‘Oh that’s a snake plant,’ the girl said. ‘I got it when I found out JK Rowling was a TERF and I had to get rid of all my Harry Potter books.’

I nodded, unable to fault her reasoning, and then moved over and pointed at a large plant positioned near the door.

She then proceeded to provide an extensive and incredibly detailed explanation of why, all things considered, her mother was a bit of a monster.

By this point, I was feeling quite uneasy, a feeling that persisted throughout the evening and followed me when I left her house later that night.   

Although I had enjoyed the initial drink we had had together, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if I continued to see the girl and something went wrong in our relationship. Would I be added to her horticultural museum of percieved knobheads? If so, what type of plant would I be replaced with?

I envisioned myself in flower or succulent form, perched forlornly on the windowsill with only plant versions of Sarah, Chris and JK Rowling to keep me company. The idea of ending up side by side with a plant TERF didn’t exactly appeal me.

Turns out I needn’t have worried because a few days later she sent me a message saying that, although she had enjoyed my company and the drink, she hadn’t felt a spark between us.

Overall, this was a massive relief; however, the rejection was still a slight bruise to my ego and it took almost superhuman levels of restraint not to buy a plant pot with some soil and a seed in it and drop it off outside her front door with the following message:

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My Work Experience Experience.

When I was 15 years old, I had to complete a week of work experience as part of my school’s ‘student enrichment’ programme.

Initially, the prospect of doing work experience excited me.

I was eager to temporarily escape the classroom and enter into professional environment for the first time.

I envisioned myself working for the local news station or a cool hipster tech company where employees sat in bean bags instead of desk chairs.

However, my enthusiasm reduced significantly when I was placed at my local Garden Centre.

My supervisor at the Garden Centre was a guy called Alan who was relatively new to the world of work himself.

Alan was seventeen years old, had zero managerial experience and had absolutely no idea what to do with me.

After giving me some brief instructions, he handed me a t-shirt with the words ‘You Plant A Question, We’ll Grow You An Answer’ printed on the back and then made himself scarce.

I went to the bathroom, changed into the shirt and walked back out onto the shop floor.

Before long, customers that had previously been ignoring me started approaching me and asking me questions, clearly assuming that I was now a font of horticultural knowledge.

This wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d known a single thing about plants.

However, the sum total of my gardening knowledge came from an episode of The Teletubbies I’d seen as a kid where I’d watched a man tend to his allotment through the telly in LaLa’s stomach.

As a result, I was completely unprepared to answer any of the customer’s questions.

For the first three days of my work experience, I stood awkwardly on the shop floor, dishing out dubious horticultural advice to a series of confused and dissatisfied customers.

Eventually, on Thursday, one of the managers on shift took pity on me and took me off the shop floor.

She handed me a batch of Yankee Candles that had just been delivered and asked me to arrange them into a display.

After three days of talking to customers, I relished the opportunity to do something vaguely creative so I sat happily in my own little world, experimenting with different colour arrangements and taking the lids off the candles to smell the different scents inside. 

However, after a couple of hours, I was approached by an old lady who had been browsing nearby. I braced myself, expecting her to ask me a question that I didn’t know the answer to.

I was relieved, therefore, when she asked me to help her retrieve a trowel from a high shelf. Finally, I thought. A task that is within my capabilities. I can actually be useful and help this old lady fulfill her trowel-based needs.

I picked up a step-ladder and placed it next to the shelf. However, as I climbed up the ladder, I suddenly felt a bit lightheaded.

All the candle sniffing had obviously gone to my head and I swayed slightly, causing the ladder to rock dangerously.

I waved my arms about, desperately attempting to restore my balance, but to no avail.

As a result, I tipped backwards and fell directly onto a nearby cactus.

To cut a long story short, I essentially flattened a cactus with my arse.

Just in case you have never fallen off a ladder onto a cactus before, let me tell you, it is a pretty painful experience.

After I had gotten over the initial shock of the impact, I tentatively raised myself to my feet and, for a few moments, stared blankly at the plant that I had obliterated with my butt cheeks.

I wasn’t sure what to do about the state of the cactus or, for that matter, my arse.

I remembered the adverts that I’d seen on TV offering compensation for people who had had an accident at work but I’d never seen one featuring someone falling onto a cactus. I wasn’t sure if it even counted as an ‘accident at work’ but I reckoned it would be worth looking into.

At the very least, I thought I should probably report the incident to my supervisor so I handed the trowel to the old lady and went looking for Alan.

When I found him, I was still slightly traumatised by the incident. My brain wasn’t functioning properly and I couldn’t think clearly about what I was saying.

As a result, I ran up to him and the words, ‘Alan, I’ve got some pricks in my bum!’ just fell out of my mouth.

Alan was, understandably, quite taken back.

Alan gasped and looked quite worried.

I was initially quite touched by this. I thought that maybe I had underestimated him as a manager. It seemed that he really cared about my wellbeing after all…

Despite my unfortunate encounter with the cactus (RIP), I managed to get through the rest of my work experience unscathed.

The following week, me and the rest of my year group returned to school where we were asked to write a reflection about our experience in the world of work.

Needless to say, mine turned out a bit different to most other peoples’.

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