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received a certified letter from his homeowners’ association. It admonished him for not keeping the length of his grass within the community’s grass length guidelines. “Living in our community has both rewards and responsibilities,” the letter began. “If you don’t mow your lawn at appropriate intervals, our neighborhood covenants empower us to arrange for it to be mowed at


H USEH ME? J


and ADDICTS grass


(Editor’s wife’s note: Women may find the content of this article irritating. I encourage them to skip over it. Women who chose to read it are implored not to use the author’s behavior as a standard for their husbands—former, current or future.)


By T. Patrick Cleary


ust last week, a friend of mine who lives in an upscale community


your expense.” “Can they really do that, Patrick?” he asked. “Did you read the fine print in your deed?” I replied. As the words came out of my mouth, I realized that it was the ultimate “dumb” question. He never reads the fine print. His third wife got him to sign a pre-nuptial agreement by telling him it was a country club membership application. “I take it they require more aggressive lawn care than you’re accus- tomed to,” I said.


I admit, that in the folly of my youth, I was a “grass addict” who took pride in maintaining a picture-perfect lawn. As I matured, I began to appreciate the merits of a more laissez-faire lawn care strategy. I’ll also be the first to admit that my cur- rent strategy doesn’t work for everyone, beginning with my wife. “It’s not gram- matically correct to call our lawn a lawn” she declares each spring. “It’s really just a patch of weeds.” “It is not a patch of weeds,” I insist. “It’s an environmentally- responsible collection of drought-tolerant indigenous plants.” “Okay, they might be native weeds,” she concedes, “but our collection of them looks awful compared with our neighbors’ lawns.” Many of my neighbors are retirees who dedicate every waking minute to the care and feeding of their lawns. I submit my neighbors’ over-the-top turf maintenance is contrary to both my interest and the public interest. They waste a lot of water, and they’re driving up everyone’s real es- tate assessments by improving the overall appearance of our neighborhood. In every season of the year you can find one of my neighbors applying some chemical to make their lawn look better than all the other neighbors attempting to do exactly the same thing. My philosophy is not to encourage what you don’t want,


so I don’t use any growth-promoting chemicals on my lawn. Recently, I tried using my just-say-no- to-chemicals philosophy to bolster my shaky standing as an environmentalist. “In case you haven’t noticed, wife,” I of- fered smugly, “we live near the water, and any chemicals I might use on our lawn would quickly end up in the Chesapeake Bay. It could jeopardize the local fishing industry. There’s even a law against it– it’s called the Chesapeake Bay Act. The responsible thing for us to do is to turn the neighbors in for violating it.” “Oh,” my wife replied, “I’m quite familiar with your Chesapeake Bay ‘act’—you perform it every time I ask you to do something to improve the appearance of our pitiful lawn.” Well, I may not have made the best case for it, but I hope you grass addicts out there will allow the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence for a change. By doing so, we’ll reduce green house gas emissions, improve the Chesapeake, boost our tourist economy, and conserve scarce water resources for the really im- portant uses— like making ice. H


T. Patrick Cleary is a freelance writer and humorist whose wife graciously allows him to share a home with her in Williamsburg, VA


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