Friday, May 14, 2010

On anthropomorphism

JAN: As I mentioned yesterday, I'm reading this terrific book, The Well and the Mine (recommended by yesterday's guest blogger, librarian extraordinaire April Cushing), by Gin Phillips. In it, there's a scene with a little girl, Tess, who may be the main character (still hard to tell). She's about nine years old and in one scene, the family is eating tomatoes off the vine. She thinks tomatoes are "happy and cheerful," dislikes lemons as "pouty", and says peaches are "flirts."

It's such a perfect little girl view of the world, but I realized, even all grown up, I still anthropomorphize in that way. I had the hardest time throwing out my poinsettia this season, because I kept thinking, she was the belle of the ball when I brought her home, and can I really just ditch her because she's danced too long at the party?

I feel that way about pretty much every house plant I bring in that starts to fade from my neglect. Just because she's down and out, can I really just toss her? (see above photo.)

I consider one of my guitars as a yet-to-be discovered starlet and the other (a flawed Martin) a celebrity actress who never had talent. Like Ava Gabor or her sister. One of my tennis rackets is a trusty mate. The other is an elderly East German gymnast.

You get the picture. Or perhaps you get the nonstop anecdote. The point is, I'm constantly making up stories about way too many inanimate objects. And I wonder.... am I merely out of my mind or is this just the mind of a writer??

HALLIE: I think there's a diagnosis for this. No, I do not think my frying pans are talking to me. Or my curtains or hand sanitizer. But I do get into the birds that come to our birdbath. Sometimes there are as many as 6 little sparrows perched on the edge while a seventh takes a dip, and I imagine I can hear their bawdy comments or offer to hold little towels for each other.

JAN: Does anyone else find themselves anthropomorphizing? Is it an occupational hazard? Or a mental diagnosis as Hallie says??

And the plant above is a cyclamen -- which needs water. Is it time to bite the emotional bullet and throw her out?


  1. It look like it is time to re-pot!!!

  2. Looks! (no coffee yet!)

  3. So Gram,
    you are saying, this plant can be saved?????


  4. Okay, I have a confession: I anthropomorphize my shoes. My favorite heels are too high for comfort, but I love them. They are Barbie-- little bitchy stilettos that are too cute to be human. My rubber flip-flops that I wear everywhere and in all seasons are named Lovey--homey, cozy and kind of granny-in-a-village feel. You get the idea. It helps to keep the lil' muse fed. :)

  5. Oh Rebbie,

    I am SO RELIEVED. It's not just me.

    I have a few Barbies I'd like to see tortured-back!!


  6. Naming your shoes, that may be certifiable LOL! I name everything--plants, creatures--and my husband has named me vice president in charge of all living things. which pretty much covers everything!

    As for the plant, throw it out! Easy for me to say--I have a Norfolk pine that started as a gift at my wedding shower eighteen years ago. Now it's probably 7 feet high, but starting to fade. too big to repot, yet gradually losing its branches until now it looks like something from Dr. Seuss. Now how do I say, sorry Mr. 18 year old Norfolk pine, time to saw you down?

  7. Okay, I confess, I speak to my cars. I feel really guilty when I trade one in. And I can't leave plants to die, either. I give them little perk-up speeches: "Come on, you can do it. Just grow one more leaf!"

  8. Does this count? Ever since I got my dog, I speak to inanimate objects. I mostly say, "Stay." If I put a book down on a wobbly pile: Stay. If I set paper down and there's a breeze that could carry it away: Stay.

  9. I definitely feel that way about plants. I had a philodendron that was way beyond it's years--leggy and ugly--but I had a hard time throwing it out. My botanist friend said, "I'm not a fan. Get rid of it." (I finally did but with reluctance.) Plants are living things to me!
    As for the cyclamen they only do well in certain climates at certain times (North Texas is not one of those climates!). Depends on where you are but I doubt water will revive it. And it needs to be outdoors, if the climate is right. They are gorgeous when they're happy.

  10. Oh, Barb, I talk to stuff, too.

    To a pile of papers: Don't even THINK about falling over.

    To the computer: please please please don't crash

    Stubborn jars. The laundry. Oh, yeah.

    Plants, I just toss. I used to hover and worry and feel like an executioner. And I'd plant them outside, where they would still die, but I wouldn't see them. Now, I just throw 'em. I still feel guilty, like I'm euthanizing them, badly, but I just can't take up the brain space anymore.

  11. Barb,
    I won't even get into how many things I talk to. It's probably a little scary.

    Judy, I finally bit the bullet today and threw out the cyclamen. It just wasn't coming back. And spent the day planting herbs and flowers OUTSIDE with new gardening gloves that make me hate gardening a little less.