So on our way up here, with the 2 pugs sleeping in the backseat, Brian announced we're going to stop at California Carnivores.
"It's a nursery that sells plants that eat animals."
"Like Venus Flytraps?"
Indeed. My only knowledge of venus flytraps is the one my brother procured as a child, to which he fed small pieces of salami until losing interest.
We actually had several nurseries at which to stop and one of them had this really bizarre, political gardening lecture going on, with people sitting on folding chairs taking copious notes. After several tries, getting lost and joking that we could find California Carnivores if they had a big plant monster out in front, we found it.
With a big plant monster out in front.
"Do you think they'll let me use their ladies room?" I asked as we walked in.
"Of course." Brian said. "This is Sebastopol."
California Carnivores is a cross between a nursery, a Halloween Superstore and Jame Gumb's basement. As soon as we walked in, Brian and I kept shooting each other looks everytime we noticed until skull and crossbones goofily placed in a corner. But Brian was soon off, looking for plants that eat bothersome fruitflies and gnats. There was a man sitting at a desk in the middle of the nursery, which was basically a big, humid greenhouse. He looked up from his piles and piles of research and plainly said, "Let me know if you have any questions."
"Oh. Okay. (Pause.) Do you have a restroom?"
He looked back down at his work and grumbled, "The door on your left slides to the right. Outside that, it's the door on the left."
"Thank you!" I overcompensated. I looked to my left and saw a sliding, wooden greenhouse door. I pushed it in one direction.
"TO. YOUR. LEFT."
I pushed it left and closed it behind me. Sheesh. Mr. Plant must not spend a lot of time around humans. I soon found the perfectly acceptable water closet and noted a Xerox which boldly stated "Wash your hands before touching the plants!"
Back in the greenhouse, I found Brian. "This place is really weird."
"I know." he whispered, clutching a collection of carnivorous plants. He quietly approached Mr. Plant at his research desk in the middle of the greenhouse, who said, "Are you ready?"
"Yes." Brian said. "Where do I go?"
"To the cash register." The "Duh" was silent, but present.
After some slight confusion over the cost of the carnivorous collection, Mr. Plant rang Brian up and then pulled out the "California Carnivores' Care Sheet." The margins on these instructions are like, a centimeter and this font looks like a 10. Mr. Plant puled out a pen and started feverishly underlining portions of paragraphs while shooting off incredibly complex instructions. Apparently, rainwater is best and if Brian really cared about these plants, he's institute a rain collection system. If Brian is unwilling to do that, he can purchase bottled water for the plants, but it's got to be "reverse-osmosis, deionized, distilled water."
Brian leaned over and whispered, "These plants are from fucking swamps in Florida. They're not getting Evian down there."
I offered that maybe the water from the iceberg that sunk the Titanic might be ideal. Mr. Plant ignored my suggestion.
These instructions, which go on and on and on, end with the magnificent, "You should expect a period of adjustment as your plants get used to their new home."
"What are they going to do?" Brian asked. "Act out?"
After we left California Carnivores, we stopped at my new favorite grocery store, "Fircrest Market, the little store that saves you more" which should be home to the next Christopher Guest mockumentary. Actually, it's a really fabulous, local market with a really fabulous, young firefighter in line in front of us.
With tons of plants and provisions and pugs, Brian and I made our way to the house and ate lunch on the deck, watching the ocean, playing Mindtrap and reading the California Carnivores' Care Sheet. The care sheet instructs one to call or email with any additional questions and Brian and I hatched big schemes to email them photos of us pouring salt on plants and asking, "So we're supposed to add salt, right? Any good in salads? How's paint thinner on them?"
Which is when we discovered the California Carnivores website and Mr. Plant. We'd guessed wrong, imagining that he was #2 at California Carnivores, annoyed and frustrated at the diletante owners casual interest in man-eating plants. Turns out, Mr. Plant is the world-famous owner.
There's even a picture of him.
Wearing the SAME SHIRT.
Mr. Plant has been on the Martha Stewart Show, an accomplishment I regard with great respect. I only hope Martha didn't make the big mistake of asking Mr. Plant if she could use his bathroom...