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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Remembering Poe....

**Note: This is a VERY long post. However, it is necessary to have a full understanding of the events! Sit back, relax and enjoy....

What I am about to tell you is absolutely true.

This is one of those stories that you will NEVER, EVER, EVER go away. It is a story about my friend Jake and his love for a poinsettia plant.

First, let’s introduce Jake.

Jake in India

Jake shoving a whole Dilly Bar in his mouth.

Probably my favorite picture. Jake asleep at his desk at camp.

Jake worked in the camp office with us and started in January 2003. Being that it was January, we were still in the midst of the holiday d├ęcor. Included in that were many poinsettia plants that the camp owner’s wife decided were needed in the office.

Unfortunately, no one took care of these plants and they all died. All but one that was literally on its last legs. This plant had 2 living leaves. The rest were wrinkled and crispy and laying in a pile on top of the dirt. When Jake got the ten-cent tour of the office, Bill Jones (one of the executive directors) told him that he needed to work on keeping this plant alive. Jake told Bill that he was all over it. We think Jake was just trying to get on Bill’s good side.

As time went on, Jake made it a point to give that plant all the love he could. He fed it Miracle Grow, put it in the sunlight, and even watered it regularly. Jake was so excited when a leaf or two would sprout. But I didn’t believe it. There was no way that this plant would live. Jake said to me, “Kelley, that plant is making a come back.” I said to Jake, “If that thing lives I’ll eat my socks.”

We interrupt this blog post for a very important announcement

I cannot stress to you enough that you never make a statement like this while working at a summer camp. Especially a boys camp. Because they will make you come back to eat your words. Literally.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post

To my amazement that darn plant started to come back to life.

And I got nervous.

Really nervous.

Jake even asked me one day how I would like to have my socks cooked. BBQ? Seasoned?

Again. I was nervous. I could just see one day at dinner Jake and the kitchen staff bringing me a steaming plate of some kid’s grubby camp socks.

Therefore I did what any good, Lutheran, Norwegian would do.

I killed the plant.

Yep. I channeled my inner CSI agent and mixed up a cocktail of any sort of chemicals I could find in the cleaning closet. Goo-Gone, windex, rubbing alcohol—you name it. Every few days I would add a little bit of the cocktail to the plant.

By end of January, the plant was dead.

Jake came up to me one day and said in a very sad voice with a very pouty face, “Kelley. I think the plant is dead. I tried. I really, really, tried. But I killed it.”

I gave Jake a pat on the back and said, “I know, buddy. You tried.” But in my head? In my head I was thinking, “Bwwwwaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Waaaaaaha ha ha ha ha.” Because seriously...Jake had no idea I killed it. In fact, no one in the office knew.

Later that day, we had a memorial service for the plant. Jake named him Poe. Poe Poinsettia. Jake even had a obituary typed up for the plant. After the memorial service, we even had a cremation. Here are the photos from said cremation:

Preparing the plant for cremation

Burn, baby, burn
A little support during a tough time...

The remains...
We won’t go into the fact that Jake kept those crispy remains in a jar on his desk until he left in 2006.

A solid month went by before Jake found out that I actually killed the plant. A bunch of our camp friends who took a 3 month road trip around the USA came back and were staying at Jake’s place. I went down for a visit and it was then that it slipped out. Jake was SO UPSET. He couldn't believe it. Ironically when I left his place, I had a flat tire. Jake swears he had nothing to do with it.

That summer at camp, we decided to add a little more to the joke. Jake’s birthday is at the beginning of June and we are usually doing work camp at that point. I made t-shirts that had a photo from the memorial service on the front and the obituary on the back. All of the summer administrative staff from boys and girls camp wore the shirts on his birthday at breakfast.

Jake normally was one of the last to arrive at breakfast. As we were lined up outside of the dining hall singing grace Jake looked up and saw all the shirts. He thought that they were great.

But he had no idea that there was still more to come.

Laura, one of our camp directors, asked me to share the story behind the shirts for those who didn’t know their importance (it’s a camp thing—always include people). I stood up and told the group the story.

With a twist.

I said, “Jake will tell you that I killed the plant by pouring Goo-gone and other chemicals into the plant because I made some comment about eating my socks if the plant lived. But really, that’s not true. The reason that the plant died was because Jake neglected it.”

Jake stood up and pointed at me and said, “You’re such a liar!! That’s not how it happened at all and you know it!”

The reaction was very real and unplanned.

The staff however thought that this was a “joke”.

Oh. Not even. It was real. All real.

I heart you Jake! Congrats on your new job and move to LA. You’ll do great.


Shelley said...

Wow, that's brutal.

Hey, I tagged you over at my blog. Hope you can play.

Tracy Griffin - Artist said...

AS IF you needed lighter fluid to start the "poe" thing on fire after all the chemicals you poured into it!