It’s Not Dead ’til It’s Dead


“They say that I’m stubborn, and my wife says that, too, but it’s paid off so far.”                                Sugar Ray Leonard (1956-Present)

I recently had a regular customer come in and make a rather unusual request. She wanted me to help her convince her dad to finally cut down the dead tree in his front yard, because every time she went over to visit she could hardly stand to look at it. His excuse is that it’s not really dead, because for the last four years it actually had one or two leaves at the very top of the crown. She has tried everything from offering to buy him a new one to haggling him with “how can you walk by that dead tree everyday?”, to no avail. When I asked if it had any sentimental value, she shook her head and said “he refuses to cut it down until it’s completely gone.” Facetiously, I suggested that he buy some rope to tie it up before it falls over. Her jaw literally dropped when she heard it, and she immediately asked me if I knew her dad.  My reply was “your dad sounds like every other man I’ve ever known”. While men in general have terrible reputations as being chainsaw-toting hackers, and I have seen more than a few of them being pulled into the nursery by their proverbial ear with their livid wives in search of ‘expensive’ replacement plants (somehow the excuses “I just pruned it a little” or “it’s not dead yet” never seem to work)  – occasionally one runs across a sensitive male soul, someone who just can’t seem to part with one of their fellow living creatures (even if it is decrepit). The only problem being, there is no such beast. I almost told her the truth, but the man code prevented me. Her dad knew it…her husband knew it…and I knew it…but I just couldn’t rat out a fellow ruler of the remote control and tell her what was really going on. He just didn’t want all the work of having to cut it down, dig it out and replace it (or pay someone else to do it) – it was much easier to just walk past the ‘nearly’ dead tree every day, pat it on the bark and whisper, “just hold on for one more year”.

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