Friday, April 6, 2012

Roundup --- It Thinks Grass is a Weed

Sure, I know the difference between "grass" and "weed", even though I don't smoke either one.
  Roundup weed killer doesn't.
   This is a true story, but I'll protect the innocent and the subject of the story by not telling you who it is.
   When I was in Wisconsin, my boss asked me to drive him by his house after we finished eating lunch. He was having his windows replaced and wanted to see how the workers were coming along with the project.
   I had never been to his house before, and I liked the way it looked when we pulled up on the driveway. It was a nice house, a big colonial with white siding and a black roof. The lawn was immaculate. There was a truck on the driveway, and men were working on the windows. He went inside, and I stayed outside to smoke a cigarette while I waited for him.
   I wandered by the garage as I waited, and thought I'd take a peek at the backyard.
   The grass stopped. I mean it stopped in a razor-sharp line that extended from the side of the back of the garage to the neighbor's property on the left, to the fence at the end of his backyard, and all the way across to the shrubs of the neighbor's property on his right.
   There was nothing growing in the backyard except for three or four scraggly weeds...and they looked pretty sick. When I say "nothing growing"... I mean it.
   Nada. Zip. No grass, no flowers. Just a few scraggly weeds from hell, and they looked like they wanted to go home.

   After a while, my boss came out. He looked for me and found me staring at the backyard with the cigarette filter in my hand. I was gaping at the barren soil that was his backyard.

  He cleared his throat and said, "That's my fault."
   "What the hell did you do?"
   "Well..." He looked a little embarrassed. I decided to let him tell the tale his own way, even though I was dying to know. The line between sod and soil was as sharp as human hands could make it, and a lot sharper than just about any natural occurrence I could imagine.
   He lit a cigarette of his own and continued. "As you know... I'm thrifty."
   Thrifty! Hell yes, he was thrifty. He and his brother invented copper wire when they wrestled over a penny they found on the street.
   "Anyway," he added, "I encourage my wife to buy in bulk. So when I saw the big thing of Roundup in the garage...and the weeds in my lawn, I decided to use it."
   I couldn't help but interrupt. "You used Roundup...on your lawn. Isn't that the stuff you're supposed to spray on the cracks in the driveway so nothing grows."
   "Yeah. It kills weeds..."
   I was trying not to laugh and not doing a very good job. "You considers grass to be a weed."
  He gestured toward the barren planet that was his backyard. "Sure," he said with the sheepish grin of an embarrassed man, "now you tell me!"
   He was still muttering when we walked to my car.
   "That was three years ago..." he said.

I couldn't help it. I think the spittle from my mouth flew on the windshield when I let out the laughter I'd been holding.

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