May 15th, 2002


Tree Killa

When we first moved to our family home back when I was eating paste and playing with Legos (last year), our backyard was filled with trees.

They were mostly 50-foot ash trees – the kind Kentuckyians use to make baseball bats. There was also a pine tree that was the residence of an old possum, and an enormous aspen tree that filled me with murderous rage every autumn, when I had to rake acres upon acres of its fucking leaves.

On top of all that, my dad had each of us kids plant a fruit tree. I had the plum tree, my middle sister Grace chose the apricot, and our baby sister Sus picked the peach.

Our mom doesn’t hate all vegetation. She loves plants and flowers. Like roses, ferns, and ficus. But she has this weird hatred when it comes to trees. My guess is she finds them abundantly messy and chaotic with their big, sprawling branches, untidy twigs, and green stormclouds of fluttering leaves.

At first she’d try to control them by hiring gardeners to hack off all their branches. But the trees would just say "Fuck you" and grow everything back. That only got my mom angrier. And Hell hath no fury like ahjuma fury.

First she chopped them in half. But a few months later the branches would sprout back, so she hacked them down to the stump. When she found tiny leaves poking out from the stumps, she had the stumps yanked out of the ground like wisdom teeth. All that was left was the redwood-sized aspen tree, which was too monstrous to mess with, and the fruit trees. The yard was now as orderly, neat and clean as my mom envisioned it. I shudder to think what would happen if she became the president of Brazil…

PRESIDENT MOM: Paco, I want you to tell the army and air force to get rid of all the meddlesome trees over on this part of the map.

PACO: B-b-but Mrs. President, that’s the rain forest! The Cradle of Life itself!

PRESIDENT MOM: Damn right skippy. Chop all dem muddafudders down. I’ma gonna lay a big purty lawn down there. And along the Chilean border, we’re gonna plant hedges.

NOTE: My mom would actually never do that to the Brazilian rain forest, nor does she talk like a pimp. The above dialogue was once again for shits and giggles only. And the fact that this is the second entry in a row where I’ve used my Mom in a fictional conversation doesn’t mean there’s some underlying Oedipal issues going on in my dysfunctional psyche.

This weekend my baby sister informed me that my mom had cut down all the fruit trees. I was kinda surprised at how stunned I was upon hearing the news. But I guess it’s because the plum tree had basically grown up with me for over two decades. If it were human, it’d be getting a Masters degree in Anthropology right now over at NYU and maybe dating an artsy Hungarian chick named Baclava.

When I confronted my mom about this, she claimed that they’d all gotten some weird tree disease and were dying, so she had to put them out of their shriveling misery. I asked her if she even bothered to treat them with tree medicine or tree surgery or tried consulting a tree doctor; and my mom looked at me as if her son had gone tree-fucking-crazy.

I walked over to a window and looked outside. All that’s left now is the lonely aspen ... but trees don’t really feel lonely, on account of their being trees.