mardi, mars 20, 2007

Innocent Obsessions

Last week I was asked to write a story on local orchid enthusiasts. Now, I don't know beans about orchids-to be completely honest, I hadn't really understood why people cared so much about something that grows its roots out of a pot instead of down towards the bottom like other respectable flowers.

Coincedentally, I had seen a wonderful assortment of orchidaceae when my friend Kris and I visited an old friend of my dads' last summer in North Carolina. A world famous historian, JH has grown orchids as a hobby ever since I remember. When I think of JH, an amazingly hale man in his early 90's, I shall remember him in his greenhouse, showing us his collection of what I know now are epiphytes (orchids that grow on trees, as do most of the ones that come from the tropics and the subtropics.)

In the course of getting to know some guys in the online dating environment, I've met some with less obvious obsessions. But growing orchids, while completely socially acceptable, can become as addictive. One couple almost ruined their house because they were trying to create a nice humid environment for their tropical orchids. Another has close to 700 plants. Several have either bought greenhouses or had one built. One left a career in the corporate world to sell orchids and other flowers.

As one guy explained it to me last night, growing orchids can be difficult in part because you have to create an environment that mirrors the ones in which they grew originally. Thus along with your successes you can have a lot of failures. If you want more blooms, try the hybrid orchids, which are bred for adaptability. Your obssessed orchid growers thrive on the challenge of trying-and they aren't afraid to fail.

In other words, growing orchids like dating after a divorce. The requirements for creating the right environment are much more strenuous, and the possibilities of failure a lot greater. Of course, if you are willing to date a clone, or are someone who is easy going or hungry enough to set the bar lower, your possibilities of "success" are much greater. But part of the fun of being in a relationship may be in exercising your skills to study, and predict, and provide a hospitable climate until, voila...

Just as in growing orchids, something blooms. Maybe.

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