“Hey, why don’t you get out there and mow the lawn?”
How many times had I heard that refrain? Through all the days of my youth, it seemed. My father would always laugh when he said it, knowing full well I would be doing no such thing. Not that he would have trusted me with such a formidable machine as we possessed: Almost as big as a (small) automobile, it was fire-engine red and immaculately kept. My father would no sooner have let me near it than he would have let me get my hands on his car, his checkbook, or the key to his liquor cabinet.
My father was devoted to his lawn—it was, for him, a symbol of everything he had worked for, everything he possessed and was proud of having achieved. As smooth as green glass, it shone in the afternoon sun: clipped, glossy, and perfect. As neatly manicured and predictable as the suburban lives we led—which is, of course, why I hated it.
“Dad, why do we need a lawn? It’s not natural!”
My younger sister, whom I had indoctrinated to hate all things suburban, chimed in: “If I had a house it would just have wildflowers instead of a lawn. Wildflowers in an open field.”
My father looked incredulously at us and laughed, albeit a bit uneasily. “What are you talking about? We need a lawn. Everybody...