When most people think of palm trees, they think of tropical vacations, sandy beaches, coconut daiquiris, and blue oceans filled with frolicking dolphins. Most people probably don’t associate palm trees with the dry, brittle desert—unless, of course, you’re a botanist or one of those whiz kids who can spout off every answer on Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit and if you are may I friend you when I become a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
I’m not one of those whiz kids but let me dazzle you with this: There are approximately 2,600 species of palm trees. Historically, they’ve been symbols of victory, peace, and fertility. Before I moved to Arizona, the only time I ever saw palm trees was on postcards from Florida or during Palm Sunday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Oddly, my adopted home state is full of palm trees, and I’m talking about the super skinny kind with brown trunks and leafy fronds that grow as tall as skyscrapers. Whenever there’s a bad storm (we call them monsoons), you think that the palm trees are going to snap in the wind but, miraculously, they do not. I’m sure they were brought to the desert by somebody else like most of the vegetation in Phoenix. Most people who move to Arizona immediately want to retrofit their yards to resemble anything but the desert. That’s annoying, too. And off topic. About the only thing left that’s indigenous to Arizona are the saguaros and those bolo ties worn by retired men in Sun City.
I simply don’t like my neighbor’s palm trees. To be fair, the correct technical term for his palm trees is neighboriaria annoyingus. His palms butt up to the property line between our houses so that I have a great view of them from my backyard. If only they provided shade. But since they’re so tall about the only ones who benefit from any palm tree shade are the birds and the bees that like to build nests in their fronds. And the only way to trim these stupid trees that provide zero shade and beehives are to hire a tree trimmer who has to shimmy his way up the tree wearing spiky shoes and carrying a chain saw. I’m not kidding about the chainsaw. It’s really a wonder that there aren’t more palm tree trimmer deaths each year. Whenever anyone in our neighborhood hires a trimmer, all the kids stand around gawking like he’s performing some kind of high-wire circus act. Except there’s no net to catch him if he falls.
And every June, my neighbor’s tall skinny palm trees grow these long, ugly stalks that stick out between all the palm fronds like deformed fingers. This is the time I hate the palm trees most of all: The ugly stalks sprout these tiny white fuzzy flowers and as soon as the slightest wind blows, these fuzzy flowers fly everywhere. You’d think it was snowing. They’ll wedge themselves in every nook and cranny and tend to favor air conditioning vents and backyard pools.
In Phoenix, almost everyone has a pool—it’s really no big thing. They’re as common as garages and if we didn’t have pools, there’d be no reason to go outside from May to October when the temperature soars over 100 degrees.
So, for all of June and most of July, I’ll be scooping out these fuzzy white flowers from my pool by the bucket-load. And so will all my other neighbors. Palm trees and their tiny white fuzzy flowers are equal opportunity annoyers. They’re good for nothing except postcards.
::Writer X also writes at The 100 Most Annoying Things::