Issue August 18, 2010

Lawn time gone

She was a green, urban hippie in love with an exurban man. “I don’t know what I’m doing with him,” she said as we rode our bikes to the groovy grocery for some macrobiotic quinoa.

“He has a lawn?” I asked in horror. “I’m so sorry.”

“An acre and a half,” she sighed. “It’s true. And I’m desperately attracted to him, even though his lawn chemicals are polluting our water.”

“Could it be,” I asked, “that you’re attracted to him precisely because his lawn chemicals are polluting our water? Sometimes hippie chicks are secretly attracted to environmentally callous men. Maybe he’s the anti-Ed Begley Jr. Does he own a gun?”

“I don’t know. It’s all happening so fast!” She locked her bike, shrugged, marched inside and opened a bottle of organic tamarind juice. I struggled to keep up; I was still pooped from thinking about possibly enrolling in Pilates. “Besides,” she said, “Why anti-Ed Begley Jr.? Why not anti-DiCaprio? Why not anti-Clooney?” Her last impetuous fling was with a powertrain-warranty salesman at a Hummer distributorship. It did not end well.

“You’re avoiding the question,” I said, pausing briefly to sign up for energy healing and Tibetan acupressure. “Do you love him in spite of his lawn or because of it?”

“You should see it!” she sighed. Then, with a conspiratorial look of glee: “The Kentucky Waterways Alliance could Tweet about this guy for weeks. He quite obviously weeds and feeds! Every single blade is perfect! Can you imagine the poison it takes to get a lawn that lush?” This coming from a woman whose own lawn consisted of organic eggplant, lemongrass and tomatoes, plus enough bee balm and delphinium to put the commonwealth’s hummingbirds into a hypoglycemic coma. Also: some dandy dandelions.

“Well, don’t touch it. You’ll end up in an oncology ward.”

“I know. He’s killing me softly with his lawn. Killing me softly …” She actually purred and spun her sundress, which was decorated with endangered tree frogs, nearly knocking over a display of herbal ear candles.

“So, what other reprehensible behavior does he engage in?” I asked. “Does he leave dog poop on the ground? Wash his car in the driveway? Blow his clippings into the street? Because MSD’s going to crack down, you know.”

“I know,” she said. “The funny thing is, he knows and he doesn’t care. He actually drinks right from the hose!” I expected her to start twirling her hair around her finger any second.

“Have you explained that lawn fertilizers make it all the way to the oceans, where they cause algae blooms, which deplete oxygen and destroy ecosystems?” I said. “Really, if you think about it, people who ‘weed-and-feed’ and also criticize BP are sort of hypocritical …” But she was no longer listening; she was examining the label on a bottle of acai berry juice cleanse.

“Do you think this cleanse would mitigate any liver damage caused by lawn chemicals?” she asked, but quickly withdrew the question before I could execute a properly sarcastic eye roll.

“Maybe you just want a sugar daddy,” I said. “Can’t you find an evolved one?”

“Are there any in Louisville?” she said. “Gill Holland’s already taken. Besides, I’m going out there tonight. He’s going to let me … never mind.”

“He’s going to let you what?”

“Drive his lawn tractor.” My ensuing guffaw frightened the self-deprecatingly over-inked fellow preparing wheatgrass-and-passion fruit smoothies. “Look, give it a rest, buster,” she said. “Besides, it’s just a fling. I feel like I’m living inside that Brigid Kaelin song ‘Future Mr. Used-to-Be.’”

“Now you’re talking,” I said. “You should always ask yourself: ‘What would Brigid do?’ Anyway, the problem isn’t lawn chemicals. The problem is lawns. They’re a symbol of our futile longing to be aristocrats. And to conquer nature …” But she was no longer listening; she was assessing the omega-3 count on a bottle of cold-pressed flax oil.

Then she looked up and said, “You should come out with me sometime. Maybe he’ll let you drive the tractor.”

“Really?” I said. “You think he would?” And then I doubled back to score some of that cleanse.

Jim Welp is the author of “Summary of My Discontent — Constructive Criticism for Discerning Americans,” now available at Carmichael’s Bookstore or www.amazon.com.