I went to San Diego last December to visit my friend Berta’s baby. The baby is very adorable and has blue eyes and ten toes and is named Abbey. The third day we went to Balboa Park. Balboa Park, for those who don’t know, is essentially San Diego’s Central Park, and it is filled with exhibitions and museums and street vendors, as well as wide, sprawling hills covered with grass and eucalyptus trees. All of the museums cost money and we were on a budget so we decided to visit the botanical garden, which is free to the public. My friend Melissa told us that there was an herb garden there where one is instructed to touch and smell the plants at leisure. She made special note of a particular herb that she said had the same scent as chocolate mint. And we touched the plant and smelled the plant and it did definitely smell like chocolate mint. We explored the planter, walking around slowly, trying to name each herb. There was regular mint, of course, and rosemary, and thyme. One lady was with her family and she bent down and snapped off a few of the mint leaves, bringing them up to her nose. Her son chided her: “Mom, you can’t do that. There’s a sign.” He pointed to one of the several signs in the middle of the planter that proclaimed: PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE PLANTS. “Oh dear,” she sighed. “Oh gosh. Oh well. Too late!” and then she pocketed her mint into her pocket, as if trying to dispose of the evidence.
I got to the basil section which was next to oregano. “Or-e-GA-no? What the hell?” I said, quoting Marge Simpson from the season three episode El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer. An elderly lady next to me mumbled, as if trying to save me from embarrassment, “It’s oregano, dear.”
"Ah," I said. "I see."
And then I walked away, hands in pockets.
I never found out the name of that chocolate mint herb.