The Slice: Interview only scratches the surface

SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011

Here’s a transcript of The Slice’s interview with the Spokane guy who pretends to be a poison ivy expert.

You won’t believe what he had to say.

Q: So the adage, “Leaves of three, let it be,” is that still good advice?

A: Not if one of them is coming at you.

Q: Huh?

A: Avoid getting between a mother poison ivy and her rhizomes.

Q: OK. Are white berries something else to look for?

A: By the time you’ve seen berries, it’s too late. Chances are, you are already surrounded.

Q: I don’t understand. Are you suggesting that these plants can move and employ strategy?

A: How else do you think they attack? Do you believe people just go blundering through the woods and brush up against them? Do you think Spokane-area hikers veer off the trail to take what bike-race commentators refer to as a “natural break” and just happen to expose their tender, naughty flesh to this rapacious vegetation?

Q: Well, yeah.

A: That’s what the poison ivy plants want you to believe. Oh, yes. They want you to think of them as these innocent saps that just spend the day sitting there going “La la la, I sure hope an unwitting outdoorsman doesn’t brush against me and pick up some of my toxic oil and then come down with a mind-altering rash.”

Q: So what DO they do all day?

A: They wait for campers. With inhuman patience. Not saying a word. Year after year. Waiting for this night. Visualizing THIS NIGHT.

Q: Isn’t that from “Halloween”?

A: Well, yeah. But you get my point. Poison ivy plants aren’t like you or me. You cannot reason with them. You can put three barrels in ’em and they’ll still manage to come up and get you across an exposed shin.

Q: Ah, a “Jaws” reference now. I guess we’re about done. I think I’ll ask my colleague Rich Landers for a few tips.

A: I know what he’ll tell you: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Q: “The Fly”?

A: That’s right. I’d quote one of the “Poison Ivy” movies, but those are about emotionally erratic girls yanking their sweaters off. Some things, calamine lotion can’t fix.

Today’s Slice question: What did you do upon hearing that your email address had been hijacked by someone selling questionable products and services?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Check out The Slice Blog at www.spokesman.com. The “Zen” (PBS) music can get stuck in your head.

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