I recently went out to lunch with a friend and as we chatted, I noticed her attention kept drifting towards the window. I like to think I'm a decent conversationalist and she's usually quite present and focused, so, I chalked it up to a mood and tried to ignore it. But lunch went on and her eyes continued to drift towards the window and then finally she blurted out, "Why are so many people carrying succulents?!"
I had no idea what she was talking about and my confusion must have shown because she pointed out the window and said, "Look!" I turned and looked and there was an almost endless parade of people carrying succulents.
Succulents are not big in Minnesota where it's cold and snowy and inhospitable to neat and tidy succulents. So, seeing a bunch of Minnesotans carrying them around on a cold, not-quite-spring day seemed odd indeed.
She said, "We have to find out what's going on." I agreed because who doesn't love a plant-based mystery?
So, we finished our soup and headed out, moving up a stream of affluent, succulent-loving urbanites like a couple of tenacious salmon. And we came upon a quaint little shop and went inside. At first glance, it appeared to be a a place that sold Minnesota-themed decor. It was packed and we saw a few succulents here and there but we couldn't understand why there would be a rush on them. Then, we overheard one of the shop owners say to another customer, "Are you here for the succulent bar?"
We had wandered into a succulent bar. I had probably uttered the word "succulent" only once or twice in the previous five years but in the span of an hour, I'd said it and/or heard many more and found myself in an entire bar dedicated to them.
Here is what you need to know about succulent bars:
1. They exist. Weird.
2. A succulent bar is a place where you pick a container and plant your own succulent shoulder to shoulder with strangers competing with you for soil, multicolored pebbles and decorative moss.
3. They are not like regular bars. They are not the kind of place where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came. No. The people there do not want to know your name and are not glad you came because they have succulents to plant which appears to require singular focus.
4. There is a dress code. Apparently, you must wear leggings and knee high boots, and some sort of long, flowing vest over a long sleeved shirt or a long sleeved shirt that flows on its own. My friend and I were wearing hoodies - a succulent bar faux pas. Dress accordingly. You don't want to be a pariah at the succulent bar.
5. Succulent bars have mystical powers. You walk in to look around and suddenly feel like your life will not be complete without a baby succulent in a tea cup to call your own. You may have killed every plant (including succulents) you've ever owned and yet the succulent bar makes you believe that you could keep one alive, that you need one, that you will spend a lifetime regretting it if you do not pick up a miniature tin bucket with a yellow dotted price tag and plop a succulent in it.
I was able to resist the pull of the succulents because I looked at the tiny tea cups and buckets and thimbles and thought, "What the hell will I do with that after the plant dies?" My friend, however, entered the fray and planted an adorable little succulent for a co-worker of hers.
If I had to write a Yelp review for the succulent bar, I would give it two stars and say this:
"The succulent bar was surreal, a culture all its own. You had to serve yourself and the place was filthy so I don't think I'll go back but at least I have this tiny tin bucket as a souvenir."