“Honey,” hollered my husband from our deck (for the third time in as many days), “can you come look at the grass? I think it is getting greener.” And for the third time in three days, I feigned interest and assured him that the color was indeed “deepening from lime to forest green.” While he stood there beaming as if he had wrought a miracle, I walked away shaking my head and pondering the question that has plagued women for ages. Since Adam spied the first blade in the Garden of Eden and quickly lost interest in Eve’s nudity in favor of weeding and fertilizing, we have all asked, “What is it with men and their grass?”
As if their virility is measured on a spectrum of green, men sweat, labor, swear and rejoice over their lawns. Seeding, weeding, trimming, mowing, I swear if the Grass Decathlon were an Olympic sport, I know many men who would be leaving for Scott’s training camp, a duffel bag on one shoulder and a bag of Turfbuilder on the other. Much like a sport, it is both a passion and an obsession. Several summers back, my husband was so possessed by a bad run of weeds that had somehow taken over our yard, that he literally spent two hours every night, for weeks, on his knees, meticulously picking each one. His friends, who stood around clutching their beers and praising his tenacity, dubbed him The King of Weeds. We women simply stood in the distance and referred to him as “Idiot”.
And it is not as if I am having to deal with this just since marrying my husband, NO! I grew up with a father to whom “weed” was literally a four letter word. Use it around him and you stood the chance of having your mouth washed out with Miracle Gro. Much like a mood ring, we quickly learned to read his emotional state by the color of the grass. Deep, vibrant hues, the color of an Irish landscape, he was happy, peaceful, approachable for your allowance. Pale yellow to light green, steer clear of him or risk being caught in his emotional weedwacker. We grew up unable to play in the yard on Sunday evenings, regardless of the weather, because in a ritual akin to baptism, he lovingly hosed it with the holy waters of Weed and Feed. Now that I am an adult, I know that while it is not recommended that you walk barefoot through chemical fertilizer, it will not, and I quote, “eat your tennis shoe and foot right off your leg!”
I have lost count of the number of peaceful Saturday mornings perverted by the drone of every man in the neighborhood revving their lawn mowers the way Andretti and Unser do their cars as they take their positions in the Indy 500. What follows is almost comical to watch. Who will choose the basic back and forth cut? Ahhh, I see Joe is going for the aesthetically pleasing diagonal! And look! Is it . . . yes, I do believe Rudy is attempting the intricate, criss cross design, usually reserved for televised golf tournaments! What an athlete! What a man! What an IDIOT. Cut the damned grass and get on with life.
As I alluded to in the beginning, my husband’s obsession has recently taken a turn for the worse. Our grass has been suffering from a combination of too much sun and too little irrigation, a.k.a., DEAD. Ok, ok, maybe not dead, but on life support, a.k.a., MY HUSBAND + HOSE + AMPLE FERTILIZER. Unfortunately, the new house next door, which until this week had only dirt for a yard, has received its lawn from the landscapers. Fluffy, new, GREEN, perfect, my husband is suffering from a severe case of Sod Envy. I actually had to talk him out of heisting a pallet left sitting overnight, destined for another new house across the street. Think of your children, I begged! “What is your Daddy in jail for?” “Grand Theft Sod(o)”, as they would hang their heads in shame and embarrassment.
And so I am prepared to endure another summer as he wages war on crabgrass and weeds. And while I know my children will not lose their tennis shoes or their feet, I pity the poor dandelion stupid enough to float over our chemical dependent lawn. It will surely vaporize before it has a chance to land.
I believe it is Psalm 23 in the Bible that contains the passage, “…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” Green pastures, huh? Though not a theologian by any means, I am certain this was written by yet another man, albeit long ago, sitting on a camel named John Deere as he proudly surveyed the grass he had managed to grow around his abode in the desert.