BRAD CLEMONS: Suburban lawn care brings out the darker side of men

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 9:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — I have only a few serious complaints about Columbia after living here for the last seven years, and one of them is male vanity about lawns.

After growing up in the country, I’m fairly new to the concept of groundskeeping for the sake of groundskeeping.


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I understand the need to keep a yard conducive to family activities, but I believe in a yard of the people, by the people and for the people — not the other way around.

In most subdivisions, men and lawn care are akin to Florence Griffith-Joyner and fingernails. I can’t help but think that vanity is the major force here.

Another theory is that lawn care obsession is a biological link to centuries of agrarian living.

Think about it. A riding mower looks like a little tractor, which would make sense if the plan were to rake and bale the grass (sounds like a good idea to me). But when trimming half an inch off contoured rows, these mowers look more like giant toys.

Such is the current, sad state of the domesticated male.

Guys take their quarter of an acre and turn it into a miniature farm, only to make the fatal mistake of putting in an entire crop of only one thing.

Every good farmer knows you have to diversify in case the crop has a bad year. This might explain why our ancestors left their homesteads.

My neighbors sweat to keep “weeds” out of their precious Kentucky 31. Of course, I have Kentucky 31 fescue, but I also have dandelions, alfalfa, thistle, clover, hemp, buckhorn, timothy and an undocumented species I can’t report or the conservation department will designate my yard as a prairie.  

When my neighbors look over at my buckhorn that’s at least a foot tall and shake their heads, I have to assume they are just envious.

Because they don’t diversify, these neighbors need to use oceans of water every July just to keep their yards alive. I’m pretty sure I caught one guy doing a rain dance a couple weeks ago.

The poor fools even believe they need to fertilize. Only a sick person would make something grow just to have the chance to knock it down again.

Pampered, genetically inferior, supermodel grass just can’t take the heat. There are entire weeks in the summer when I am the only person who has any growth at all.

I want to help, but the average "manscaper" is often the victim of bad advice. Over a fence, a neighbor will say something like, “They say you’re supposed to mow regularly.”

Well, I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” need to come look at my yard. I have the greenest grass in the whole subdivision.

I have grass coming out of cracks in the driveway, grass through the steering wheel of the miniature lawn tractor my son has left in the yard, grass so tough it’s resistant to dog urine and is growing through the chain link fence.  

I even have grass blocking the mower shed, the ultimate sign of dominance.

I have this neighbor we'll call Mick Rueller. I’m convinced he feeds his grass for the express purpose of extracting intelligence from it with threats of torture.

"I know you all are hiding dandelions in there."

"No, no, they’re dead. You killed them last fall with the spray, remember?"

"Don't lie to me. One last time, where are you hiding the dandelions? Tell me, or I’ll cut off the water, and you’ll be dead by Independence Day."

"OK, OK. They're taking refuge in the Clemons' yard where it’s safe. I’m sure they won’t come back. They have learned their lesson. We're certain of it."

“I knew it. Curse that Clemons, that hillbilly.”

It could be because I’m never outside, but I tell myself my neighbors are only jealous of my yard.

The problem is similar to dealing with gangs. The only choice is to compete or move out.

My personal opinion is that peer pressure from manscapers is worse. Unlike gang members, manscapers have the law on their side.

Plus, gangs are usually a small group of outsiders who annoy the public, while I’m just one guy, completely surrounded and greatly outnumbered.

Hey, I’m only trying to raise awareness.

Brad Clemons lives in Columbia and advocates for the removal of zoning restrictions against goat ownership within city limits.

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Dave Overfelt August 26, 2011 | 6:44 a.m.

Personally, I have always thought of grass as a troublesome waste of water and space. Sometimes useful to hold down dirt but otherwise a weed.

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