Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Arborvitae (Crepe Myrtle)

Nothing about this is not confusing.

Several months ago my wife and in-laws were driving through the neighborhood and my father-in-law spotted what he said, in his Mississippi accent, was an ar-bo-vi-tuh, and my mother-in-law demanded to know where, to which he replied right there, to which she countered where, prompting my wife to back up the car and park beside that yard, which was filled with a variety of plant species, while a volley of where?/right there rocked back and forth within the car until it reached equilibrium, having the potential to continue into perpetuity until, that is, she responded Do you mean that?, to which he said No... that!, though the that was not clear in either case since they both pointed in some general direction at the yard, and this (if you remember your high school geometry and if you take into account the relatively small length of a person's finger) provided for a high degree of uncertainly as to the that being pointed at.

That, he continued, still referring to the object of his pointed finger, is an arborvitae. No, it's not, she replied with incredulity, as though he had mistaken a pig for a cat. That, she said, still pointing at the yard, is a crepe myrtle. No, it's not, he came back, either in disagreement with the plant or her finger, though the latter is much more likely since every person born in the south knows what a crepe myrtle looks like--it is a snobby sort of big bush that likes to be cut back to a stump every year or two. I say snobby because when I was a kid in Arkansas our snobby neighbors had several crepe myrtles. The picture (at the top) is a crepe myrtle from our side yard (taken from my balcony if you're wondering about the perspective). In December I cut it back and now it seems pretty happy (though I suspect it believes it is better than the other plants).

According to physicists, the true nature of matter is a paradox. Electrons, for example, are both a particle and a wave at the same time. They are neither this nor that at any one moment, but they exist. It's possible that, after several years of marriage (and as I am beginning to learn first hand), two people can communicate at such a level: one person seeing an arborvitae and the other seeing a crepe myrtle, both looking at the same thing and at different things at the same time, leaving the observer (me, in this case, though I wasn't even in the car at the time) to sort things out imperfectly, just as the experiments of Heisenberg's principle have borne out.

The Arborvitae.

Late update: Cheryl says that she was not in the car when this happened and that my account of this story is completely wrong (if, in fact, any of this actually happened at all).


  1. this is correct. mom and dad were in the car driving and they had to pass by the crepe myrtle two or three times with dad pointing at it and yelling incorrectly Arborvitae, Arborvitae! and mom yelling Where? Where?

  2. You always take your mom's side...

  3. Don't get in between Cheryl and her parents...they will always win! Although I'm not sure which one she favors, her mom or her dad...depends on her mood.

  4. I give, it was a freaking crepe mrytle, but it was huge and filled the windshield and all she had to do was to say, you dumb ass that is a crepe mrytle, but no, I had to drive past it 3 or 4 times before she would give up and say she say the only thing to see, even tho it was misnamed!!!
    That double slit stuff is too heavy for me! Just think how mind blowing it would have been if he had added the 3rd SLIT?