Nearly forty years ago, I was visiting an elderly couple I had just become acquainted with. Warren and his wife, Joan, had moved from Kentucky, where they used to be farmers. Their small house was rather stuffy so I decided to hang around outside for awhile. I had scarcely meandered a block away when something caught my eye. I turned to try to make out what it was. Across an unkempt lawn, in the hazy afternoon sun, four thick stalks stood in a row. They looked exactly like dandelions when they’re sporting their spherical white heads. The trouble was, these “dandelions” were nearly 5 feet tall, and their heads were the size of basketballs! What had I just stumbled into? What made those dandelions so gigantic? Plutonium? Were they even dandelions at all? Were they even from Earth?
I backed off slowly, then broke into a run. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to make it back to the house I’d just recently stepped out of, but I did, and quickly barged in. Joan was in the kitchen. “I … have to … show you something,” I said breathlessly. Before she had a chance to reply, I grabbed her hand and dragged her down the block. I pointed the alien-looking plants out to her. “What are those?” I asked, almost in a whisper. She gazed at them for a minute, but then she turned to head back to her house. “Oh, those are just onions gone to seed!”
Someday I hope to plant an onion patch so I can enjoy looking at them whenever they go to seed. I’ll put up a sign in front of them that says “these are onions,” so that other people can stroll by and enjoy observing them, too, without getting scared half to death. Or am I the only one in the world who was afraid of onions?