Glorious. Hilarious. Ingenious. All words that have been used to describe a fake tree that my family owns. Inevitably, every few years the ‘owner’ gives the tree away to someone else in the family: so far I’m the fourth known owner of this damn thing, and we’ve had it in the family for at least fifteen years.

What makes this fake tree special is that it is a Japanese Maple, which has leaves that look extremely similar to another plant, an illegal plant. I’ll let you figure out which plant:

I was given the tree when I went to college as a decoration. I’m pretty sure my uncle just wanted to see if I realized what it looked like, but I had my poker face on. When I lived with La Actress, we giggled over it and then stuck it in the corner by the window and immediately forgot about it. Until one day…

We were all gathered around the television watching Tyra when the door vibrated with an abrupt but strong knock.

“Police, answer the door”, came the sound of a strong male voice. We all jumped up, worried and La Actress and I rushed to the door. We fought to look through the peephole which revealed a middle aged man wearing a police uniform. Since I have family that watches 60 minutes and repeat what they see ad nauseam, we only opened the door a crack and immediately demanded to see his badge and ID. Too bad no one knew what it was supposed to look like.

“I’m coming inside.” He said, starting to put his hand on the door to open it further.

“No you aren’t.” Kentucky said over our heads.

“I was walking downstairs and saw in your window that you have an illegal plant growing in this apartment. Because I have witnessed it, I have probable cause to search your apartment.” He rumbled. After a quick glance around, we opened the door and Kentucky started to Google the number to our local precinct.

“You are allowed to look at the FAKE tree, but you are not allowed to move or touch anything, enter any other room or search through anything else. You may walk to the end of the living room and confirm that the tree in question is plastic.” Stated one of Kentucky’s friends, who was studying to be a lawyer. I’m not sure how valid that would have been, coming from someone who didn’t live there, but it sounded good.

He rushed over and started feeling up my tree like a 15 year old boy with his first blowup doll. After confirming what we said was true, he turned and tried to cover up his embarrassment by lecturing us on how irresponsible it was to keep it by the window.

“We’ve received complaints about this tree and it needs to be moved away from the window.”

“Wait. You said you saw the tree outside and that’s why you came to investigate.” I pointed out, “Your story isn’t really consistent. If there were complaints, the campus security would have come to investigate, not a real officer.”

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t respond to my observation. “You are required to move the tree.” He stated.

“I’m pretty sure you can’t tell us how to decorate our dorm. It’s not an illegal tree, it’s not even a replica of an illegal tree! It’s a Japanese Maple. You can’t storm in and demand to see a fake tree, then lie and say there were complaints which contradicted what you just told us at the door, then tell us where to put the tree. You need to leave now and if you have any further issues, you can have campus security contact us.” Kentucky said loudly.

We never did move that tree and we received no complaints about it for the rest of the year. It helped me meet a guy, but that’s a story for a different Throwback Thursday. I have it to this day and I made sure to place it by the window in my new apartment.