Monday, May 12, 2008

A Cactus Without Chlorophyll

I'm not sure how the genetic engineers at HEB did it, but there are now cacti that don't have chlorophyll in parts. One kind has a green stalk, and a round red top. The red part has no chlorophyll. I call them redius headius, which is Latin for "cactus altered by genetic engineers at HEB to have a red top". I got three of them for the back porch, because it gets lots of afternoon sun. I really like them; they're like a little flower, but with thorns on the pedals. I had three of them, each in their own little pot, but one died over the winter. Actually, I think he was murdered by one of the others: the tragic, but inevitable result of a redius headius cacti love triangle.

The other two, perhaps thriving in their new love, are doing well this spring and putting out new little red bulby things. Can you tell I know nothing about biology? It's true. So I went back to HEB to ask the produce guy what he thought about genetic engineering, about redius headius, and about other things of cosmic significance.For those of you who have not met produce guy, he is a skateboard riding, eyebrow ring wearing, master of produce, philosophy, and all things spiritual. Rumors of his being a fictitious product of my imagination are purely a fictitious product of my imagination.

Me: Hi Produce Guy, how have you been?
Produce Guy: Like, woah dude, you've been MIA for like, many moons.
Me: I know, I know, I've been blogging, you see. Takes up all my spare time.
Produce Guy: Here to pick some fresh vegetation, yo?
Me: No, I came to ask you a question. You see I have these cacti without chlorophyll...

I went on to explain my confusion about how a cactus, or any other plant, could be bred or mutated or nuked or whatever, so that it would be "like, all red on top". The conversation went on for some time. I asked him where the genetic engineers were and he said they did most of their work in the ice cream cooler behind sporting goods.

Me: Of course! That's where I would do my genetic engineering, if I ever did any.
Produce Guy: So dude, is something else like, troubling you, yo?
Me: Yeah, it's just that I'm not sure what to think about genetic engineering. I mean, is it safe? I don't think eating genetically engineered foods is going to make you sick or anything, but as an engineer I know that there are often unintended consequences of our technologies. These can be, but are not always, harmful to people or the environment or... I don't know. You just never know I guess. That's the point.
Produce Guy: Man, you worry too much dude. Every time you come here you're like, a big sack of potatoes all full up. But instead of potatoes, you're like, full of worries. Dude.
Me: I know, I know, I just don't have the wisdom and peace that you have.
Produce Guy: Look dude, a wise man with long hair like mine once said, "Do not worry about what to eat or drink, or about what to wear, yo. Consider the lilies of the field, and dress like them, or something like that..."
Me: Huh?
Produce Guy: Look man, I don't have any lilies in produce, see the floral department for them, but consider this instead. I have a fine selection of genetically engineered cassava roots, yo, and do you see them worrying? No way, man. So take some schoolin' from them, yo, and...

At that point, one of the cassava roots split in half with a crack like a whip. A long, purple tendril shot out of it and wrapped itself around the neck of produce guy. It started pulling him towards it, constricting and choking my insightful friend. Produce guy fought back with a box cutter, but the tendril was too strong. More cassavas started opening up and lassoing produce guy's arms and legs, not to mention an old lady that had been picking out tomatoes.

It was all happening so fast I didn't have time to think. I just reacted with instinct. Anyone would have done the same thing, really. I ran to the home and garden section and grabbed two big bottles of Roundup. Riding a shopping cart like a Humvee, I crashed through a display of bananas and did an aeriel summersault over the red tipped lettuce. With both barrels blazing, I peppered the cassava with blasts of Roundup until they released my friend with a hiss.

The store had to be evacuated. It was all over the news. The SWAT team came out with their riot gear on. The old lady is suing. Produce guy is in stable condition. As for me, I got an endorsement contract with Roundup - I'm their new spokesman. But I still don't understand biology.


Redlefty said...

I think your weed got cross-mojinated with the herbicide!

Shalamama said...


mightybob said...

sounds pretty intense. sure wish my trips to the produce section were that exciting...