A piece of furniture, to sit in a particular location and occupy space in an interesting way. Favored by photographers, the wealthy, realtors, TV producers, artists, office workers.
An air-cleaning appliance, to remove chemicals in the air, or chemicals one imagines to be in the air. Favored by the paranoid, the urban, those with multiple-chemical sensitivity, office workers, owners of new homes.
An interloper, which belongs outside, planted in the soil, but is for some reason indoors where it doesn't belong, being all unnatural and stuff. I've only seen this in Amy Stewart and Michele Owens of Garden Rant, though I suppose this interpretation might appeal to people with very rigid opinions about Where Things Go, or those who have previously had bad luck with indoor plants.
Money, or at least potential money. Endorsed by obsessive hobbyists who have reached the point of hoping that the obsession could at least partly pay for itself, or who are trying to convince a family member that it's a good idea to open more space up for plants; also adopted by retailers, wholesalers, and their employees.
A victim, or object of guilt. Popular with beginning indoor gardeners, the very busy, the recently-vacationed, the easily-distracted, the overly-confident, and those who did not do the research before purchasing.
A (hypothetical) weapon. This could be something only I think about, but I've given enough thought to which of my plants could be used in self-defense that I think I make up for all the people who don't think about it at all. People inclined to this stance are obviously paranoid, threatened, inclined to fantasies of themselves being heroic, or some combination thereof.
A chore, a never-ending task, an obligation, a duty. Favored by those who have received plants as gifts, those who thought they'd like a houseplant better than they actually do, those with hectic, complicated lives that mostly revolve around taking care of others, those who have collected more plants than they can reasonably take care of, the dysthymic, the exhausted.
A memento of someone who has died, moved, or otherwise gone somewhere else. Favored by the recently (or not-recently) bereaved, the involuntarily lonely, the sentimental, the hopeful.
Absolution for one's environmental sins. Did you clear-cut a 300-year-old forest to make room for your McMansion and its 5-SUV garage? Buy a couple peace lilies and all is forgiven. This perspective is preferred by those with long, solitary commutes, those who sometimes forget to recycle, and those who don't know how much fossil fuel is involved in making a plastic pot, putting a plant into it, shipping the plant 1500 miles across the country, heating and/or air-conditioning the store, making the plastic bag the plant gets put in, and burning the gasoline in the car to get the plant back to the house.
A magic charm, which attracts luck, wealth, happiness, wisdom, or some other positive, unattractable characteristic. The preferred interpretation of cynical marketers, who are somehow able to ignore the fact that the original ranges of the plants in question are often inhabited by people who are very poor, unlucky, or miserable, by comparison to the intended buyers of the plants.
One checkbox on a long list of plants to be checked off. Favored by hoarders, collectors, competitive types for whom dying with the most plants means winning, obsessives.
An object of wonderment. Preferred by those who start plants from seed, who didn't know their plant could flower, children, scientists, artsy-fartsy types (not as far from scientists as you might think), stoners, the easily impressed.
Nature itself! A small piece of rain forest, brought into one's home! Favored by pretty much anybody who doesn't look at them as interlopers or furniture.
Monday, April 11, 2011