Every woman, they say, has a celebrity crush, and most are based on the object of said crush being really good looking to the “average” woman. According to various internet polls – so you know it must be true – men who fit in this category are Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper and Matthew McConaughey, although surely everyone knows McConaughey loses some of his cute-points with his philosophy-student car commercials.
I’ve never really fit the profile of “average” in any manner, and this area is no exception. When I was in high school, my crush was Jim Croce (not really a looker), and in college, I couldn’t get enough of Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce. After that, I lusted after Martin Short simply because of his dancing scene in the movie Innerspace.
But for the past few years, there’s only one thing that really gets me going, and it isn’t a millionaire pretty boy. Nope, it’s a guy who knows his way around a garden plot. So, when a man was able to make my garden sprout forth with not only tomatoes and broccoli but quinoa, my natural response was a celebrity crush.
When I first met him, “Joe” was a twenty-something taking a break from his university plant sciences major to spread around everything he’d learned free of charge about a mile from my house.
There were only two employees in the ACE Hardware garden section that day: A gray-haired guy giving mouth-to-mouth to some dying petunias and Joe, who was calmly sorting seed packs. Although the older guy had the wrinkled-map face of someone with desert-scorched gardening experience, I was in a hurry and couldn’t wait for him to complete his petunia resuscitation.
So, I turned to fresh-faced Joe and asked if he knew how I could “naturally” murder the coven of crickets eating my green beans and also keep the doves from pecking my strawberries to death.
“Sure,” he said, sauntering over to a shelf and pulling a few things off of it. He explained each offering in intricate detail, giving me information I’d never heard from anyone in my desert years. My mouth fell open. Here was someone who actually knew what he was talking about as opposed to the “guessing” advice I normally experienced in garden arenas. I was in love. Truly. Madly. Deeply.
I followed Joe’s advice and the crickets died, my strawberries flourished and my veggies really started taking off. It was a miracle. No matter what challenge I presented to Joe, he solved it, like an amazing garden savant. I started visiting every Saturday and as he issued his latest garden advice, I literally couldn’t take my eyes off him.
He, on the other hand, in the way of celebrity crushes, could absolutely take his eyes off me, and he did so, helping another customer.
My conversations with my husband began to center around my crush: “Joe says,” and “Joe told me,” and “I think I’ll ask Joe.” My husband, never a jealous man, would nod his head and listen attentively before asking, “Who’s Joe again?”
“He’s the guy who helped me grow QUINOA, for heaven’s sake! He makes me feel like a garden goddess! I’m fulfilled in a way that I can’t even describe!”
“That’s sweet, honey,” Hubby replied. “Can you ask him about the mesquite tree next time you visit?”
Then one day, the unthinkable happened. I showed up for my regular Saturday fix of Joe and he was gone. Not just unscheduled for the day, but gone for good. The manager said he’d decided to go back to school.
I stood there, holding the cup of quinoa I’d harvested that I’d wanted to show him. My heart raced and I felt dizzy. NO MORE JOE???
I asked the manager if Joe had left any information about how I might contact him “in case of a garden emergency.” Like the body guards of other, more “average” celebrities, the manager was circumspect.
“He didn’t authorize us to give out his personal information,” he said, nervously rearranging seed packets on an end cap display. “I’m sure you understand.”
But of course I didn’t. Those of us with celebrity crushes never do. We just want more.
And so I looked for more Joe. In every garden store, at garden events, and even at the university plant sciences department. I searched high and low, off and on, for two years and never found him. My garden went fallow, I lost one of my garden gloves, and I tripped on a hoe and bonked myself in the head.
Finally, I realized my obsession had to stop and searched online for a cure. The general recommendation was to replace the “negative obsession” with something more positive. So I Googled “Men of Gardening” and I’ve been just fine ever since. My garden might not be growing, but my appreciation for men in gardens certainly is!