Larry Thack’s “hug coupons,” received from his niece for Christmas, have expired

Every spring I trot down to Callaway Gardens to look at the budding plants. I’m always looking for new shrubs and flowers so that I may be chosen for the Fayette Garden Tour. Every year I fail for one reason or another. Last year I falsely claimed to be a “Master Gardener.” The year before I threw a brick threw Minter’s greenhouse, and everyone has a long memory for the time I introduced Kudzu to the South at a trade show in New Orleans.

All of that notwithstanding, I have number of plants along my walking trail through the woods at home and I need to expand my assortment of hornworts to make the tour. Sadly, if I learned anything at Callaway this year it’s that the world has run out of plants. There was pine straw covering every inch of the property – including the tennis courts! Maybe I was too early for the good stuff to have bloomed. To make matters worse, my search for subspeciae of plants has led to an unwelcome meeting of subspecii of humans. At 7 a.m. my headache was exacerbated by the subspecies “Screaming Twelve Year Old.” Gangs of them drowned out the morning birdsong as they ran back and forth outside my motel room. When they weren’t stomping they were riding scooters which frequently crashed into the steel railings. The subspecies “Way Too Into-It Grandfather” would encourage all this with a game of Red Light-Green Light. The Red Light part was never correctly played.

My splendid late wife identified a subspecies she termed the “Hard Couple.” These humans are sponsored by Subaru, rarely exceed 5’11”, and go about their business with seriousness and efficiency. The Hard Couple has extraordinarily white teeth, yet considers a smile an act of aggression. They nest at crossfit gyms and can be seen overpaying for staple items at the supermarket. They’re generally meek and quiet but can be heard to loudly call a warlike shriek when on a Yelp page. Hard Couples have zero body fat while they’re offspring is obese. Later in life this subspecies abounds at Callaway Gardens. Still thin and fit, but can be marked by handicap license plates. They remain quiet, seemingly unable to nod or say hello when passing a fellow human on a trail, however this aging subspecies is now capable of raising its voice in anger and disgust at its playful and joyous dog secured by a steel choke collar. I was fortunate to witness one in the wild on this trip. It stopped traffic to remove a turtle from the road. With a vicious scowl this “better half” of the hard couple returned to her Subaru. Her lips pursed so tightly for generations that her dime-sized mouth appears ready to affect an evolutionary change.