Saturday, December 27, 2008

Who Will Post My Bail?

I saw perhaps the most horrifying crime scene I have ever witnessed today. I’ve seen car bombings, suicide bombings, and plenty of firefight aftermaths, but never something such as this. I saw my heroes dead. Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, in company with all Santa’s reindeer and even a few elves. All dead on a lawn. Face down, deflated and forgotten.

The crime here, lest anybody wonder, is owning an inflatable lawn ornament. Multiple charges are for owning more than one. The worst offense is displaying them. A discourtesy is allowing them to deflate on your lawn and leaving them there – sad, flattened vestiges of the ugly inflatable monuments that once stood.

If I ever go to jail, it will be because I have gotten drunk, located a pickup truck and a shotgun, and am driving through suburban yards, shotgunning and running over lawn ornaments. This will be what lands me in jail. Why? Because I’m tempted to do it sober…

I have nothing wrong with hanging a few Christmas lights. They look rather nice. Yet it, like most everything else that looks nice in moderation, is frequently taken to its extreme. We the passersby are the hapless, innocent victims.

I even saw one “display” today that was entirely new to me. It looks like somebody had ALREADY gone through the yard with a vehicle – unintentionally. And they took out a forty foot section of white fencing, literally blowing it into small pieces. It remained a disaster area for at least a week. Yet on Christmas day, the homeowners carefully cleaned up the mess and piled all the scraps into a heap at the end of their driveway – and then they put Christmas lights on them. Hooray.

Years ago, for reasons I in no way understand, large, hard plastic lawn ornaments rose sharply in popularity – at least in the rural areas near my home in Virginia. They were indescribably tacky. And unfortunately, they’ve been replaced with even larger devices – the inflatable lawn Santa. Do you feel merrier when you see an inflatable lawn Santa? I sure don’t. I want to hurt things – specifically their decorations.

Several things completely baffle me. First, that somebody would go out of their way (drive to a store) for the purpose of purchasing a large lawn ornament. They’re not at all decorous. They’re eyesores. Second, I am puzzled what is so enjoyable about displaying them. They drain power, take time to set up, and certainly require storage space – space I consider better reserved for USEFUL things, like food, tools, and machete collections.

Finally, I am unsure what these ornaments are meant to accomplish. And what is FURTHER accomplished by displaying oodles of them. Is this intended to propel me into the festivities of the “shopping season?” To send my daydreams back to lovely Jimmy Stewart movies with snow and other holiday crap? To incite rage?

Now in all fairness, if these are erected for the sole purpose of irritating neighbors and passersby, I admire that. I respect the effort and the money invested. Good initiative, bad judgment. Stick with more conventional annoyances, like pineapple flags on your mailboxes and putting livestock in your front yard.

As is, when I’m done with my drunken (or sober) rampage, your lawn will be littered with deflated seasonal decorations shot full of holes. Some may be missing due to the fact they’re now wrapped around my truck axles.

I can’t help but think about the Irian Jiya tribe of West Papau, Indonesia. Years ago I read with great humor an article National Geographic did of their culture. Men, it seemed, frequently wear nothing more than the necks of gourds, cleverly used to cover their, um, take a wild guess, and secured with a little string around their waists. They seem to have gourd necks for all occasions.

Little gourds are used for working in the fields or hunting, so as to limit damage and permit the freest movements. Holiday gourds are a little larger. I guess we have more tribesmen to impress. But the ceremonial gourds take the cake. They’re huge, long, protrude great lengths, and often require miniature scaffolds to keep them, ahem, erect. Most are large enough to be laughable – at times exceeding a meter in overall length.

I wonder if the size of one’s gourd is inversely proportional to what he politely conceals. I would link here to some humorous photographs, but I think it wiser to let people do that sort of research on their own.

Does the same postulate apply to the lawn ornaments dilemma? The larger and more numerous the ornaments, the more insecure the decorator? Is there a connection? I have to wonder…

Maybe when I have my drunken rampage I will leave behind a single gift on every lawn: One long-necked gourd. Will anybody bail me out after this?

Copyright © 2008, Ben Shaw
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