I don’t mind living in suburbia. I thought it might bug me; I grew up in the country where I could go out back and pick off pop cans with the pellet gun or build small siege weapons to try to launch things into the swamp, and Erin and I used to live at the edge of Hamilton proper where we could walk to restaurants and the movie store.
Suburbia is that strange in-between where the neighbors get annoyed at the archery range you set up in your postage-sized backyard but you can’t make it to an ice cream place on foot unless you have an hour-and-a-half to kill that afternoon. It’s cheaper than city living, more convenient than country life, but somehow suffers all the more for its middle-ground state.
I also discovered that there are strange rules of interactions in suburbia.
We share a front lawn with one of our neighbors, and there is no clearly defined boundary between their property and ours. We both have plain old lawns, not the elaborate rock gardens and mulched sculptures that some of the more ambitious neighbors installed to avoid having to mow a lawn that barely qualifies as a green throw rug. Neither of our lawns is particularly nice; the dandelions (read about them here) have taken over several patches, the clover has staked its claim in the northeast, and gangs of crabgrass keep jumping the lone bits of actual lawn that dare to raise their heads.
Well, when Erin asked me to go rip up the 13,000 dandelions out front, I learned one more thing about suburban etiquette: weeding your half of a shared lawn is like dropping a floral gauntlet. Within the hour, the neighbors were out stabbing away at their half as if it had been their idea all along, ignoring completely the fact that neither of us had given the slightest thought to the yellow blooms for the last month that they were out taking over the grass.
Today I made the mistake of going out and spreading Uber-Grow Miracle Grass Seed and Fertilizer Mixture Extra Power® (UGMGSFMEP). My wife seems convinced that this will work, despite the fact that three years of trying any and all species of mutant, weed killing grass the only thing that has propagated on our lawn has been gravel and despair. It might well grow on concrete, but concrete is a passive defense against grass growth; our lawn actively kills anything approaching Kentucky Blue.
I also made the mistake of doing it in view of our neighbor.
I could almost hear the steam coming from his ears as he watched me inexpertly scattering the UGMGSFMEP hither and thither. And I knew why he was angry. His wife would see that I had tried to plant grass in the yard and would immediately start telling him to do the same. I ruined his free time for the next two days.
He knows as well as I do that there is no point in trying to grow anything out there. But there’s a flower-print gardening glove laying before him, and I’m the smarmy bastard that threw it down.