A Letter To My Prematurely Named Bonsai, Otto


Is it because I named you? Should a bonsai never get named? Is this some zen don’t-put-a-label-on-me protest? And no, I won’t even consider that Otto isn’t a good name for a bonsai tree because shut up.

I still remember when my brother sent me that cellphone picture of you, with the text “this 1 good or do u like the 1 in the slvr pot?” and I thought to myself, “Self, this little juniper with a vaguely racist Asian fisherman on a rock in the pot is your bonsai. That other identical bonsai without a fisherman on a rock can go commit harikari with soy sauce.” And so he bought you for me. And brought you home. And look at that, we got along fine. I kept you in my room with me. I watched you grow and you watched me sleep. I considered starting to trim you like I’m supposed to, but all of your mini-branches were so green and lovely, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m supposed to shape you and consider the paths life chooses for me like the paths I choose for you. That’s part of the metaphor of your species, isn’t it Otto? ISN’T IT!?!

So what the shit does THIS mean? Just dying? Because? Is this your way of giving my future the finger? Are you trying to be a ceramic-and-plant-and-dying canary in a coalmine? How daaaaaare you. My life is no coalmine, you Shetland pony. Let’s take a look at your life, shall we? We found you ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR $20. You’re a botanical midget hooker. Your pimp didn’t even speak English, he just handed my brother your birth certificate that said, “Water twice week sun two.” Don’t take this personally. I’m not mad at you, Otto, I’m mad at the situation and the way you’re insulting my future with your health.

Look, let’s be honest. You never had much going for you anyway, so why not exceed my expectations? It’s not like I don’t water you or put you in the sun twice a week. You’re not a voodoo bonsai, Otto, you can’t tank my life by drying up. I will put you in the yard waste bin, and won’t shed a tear (i’ve wasted enough water on you thank you very much.) Look to your left, Otto. Even the stupid ceramic fisherman on the rock next to you looks disgusted with you. Look at him! He caught a ceramic fish! He’ll feed that to his ceramic family and his little ceramic kids will look up at him and say “I rove you!” No one’s going to say that when you look like this, Otto. Nobody likes an underachiever.

Here’s the deal. Either you green up, start growing and let me shape you into a better metaphor for my GREAT LIFE, or I swear to Buddha I will march right down to Venice beach and buy the silver potted bonsai. Maybe Horace will have some damned self-respect.