Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring Has Sprung...Wait a Minute...No, It Hasn't

    Everyone thinks it’s the forecast from Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil which sets the tone for the rest of the winter and gets us psyched for the glorious return of Spring.
    See his shadow-six more weeks of winter...or is that six more weeks of people still turning on their outdoor Christmas lights?  Well, in any case, that furry little rodent know-it-all has nothing on the mid-winter circular from Home Depot.
    Having just received my sale ad from that “Mecca of the Do-it-Yourselfer,” I’m raring to go put my shorts on and putter around the backyard in search of that evildoer, crabgrass.  Never mind that the air outside is as cold as a Hillary Clinton pajama party and a trip to the mailbox requires a Zamboni.  Pish, posh, there are roto-tillers and patio furniture to be had!
    As I wistfully flipped through the pages of this harbinger of milder weather, I couldn’t help but be awed by the dazzling variety of ways to jazz up my backyard.  From garden tractors to plastic flamingoes, I can buy enough goodies to keep my neighbors green with envy until Labor Day.
    Luckily, though, nowhere in the paper did I find those twin banes of home embellishment:  garden gnomes and lawn jockeys.
    Brought to you by the same people who brought you trailer parks and truck tire floral arrangements, garden gnomes and lawn jockeys are to good taste what Tiger Woods is to marital fidelity.  Once believed gone the way of roller disco and leisure suits, they’ve come roaring back into the national consciousness like a Lenny and Squiggy comeback tour.
    Inspired, no doubt, by all those insipid Travelocity commercials, the custom of misguided homeowners to sprinkle their lawns with all manner of inert forest folk has now become as common as Viagra salesmen at AARP meetings.  Yep, I can just hear the man of the house pompously crowing to his family, “There!  You don’t see anything like THAT at Donald Trump’s house, do you!”
    Indeed, you don’t.  And shouldn’t.
    Don’t get me wrong.  I applaud any attempt to improve a home’s “curb appeal.”  Surely, anything is preferable than lavender aluminum siding and wooden cutouts of old ladies bending over.  Yet I can’t help but feel a little creeped by a bevy of tiny stone people with pointy hats peering at me as I take my dog for a walk.
    Sheesh, creepy!  These miniature Wilfred Brimley look-alikes make me feel as if I’ve wandered into a Stephen King novel.  At any minute, I’m afraid they’ll come to life and drag me, kicking and screaming, to their secret lair inside the Keebler oak tree. 
    At least the Smurfs were cute.
    I mean, if you want brainless stumps camped out on your front lawn, why not just ask Lindsey Lohan and Keith Olbermann over for a barbecue?
    As gauche as those little critters are, though, they’re not even in the same league as lawn jockeys.
    Refusing to just go away (a lot like Jimmy Carter), these driveway guardians have remained a fixed part of the cultural landscape, despite the perception they perpetuate a part of our past which we’d just as soon forget (whaddya know, a lot like Jimmy Carter again!).
    Symbols of an aristocratic class which has long since disappeared, lawn jockeys have all the social sensitivities of cigar store Indians.  Despite having undergone some minor modifications to make them more palatable to the politically-correct, they nonetheless remain offensive anachronisms.
    Originally painted brown, these foot-long sentinels held up lanterns at the ends of driveways which, more often than not, led visitors up to a dwelling which would be more at home in Hooterville.
    Thankfully, as society slowly began to realize that flaunting little brown statues was not such a hot idea, they started to disappear.  This burst of social consciousness was a little late, to be sure, but at least they recognized the possible offense they could cause.
    However, there remained some folks who thought all they had to do was paint the little guys and-voila-instant Rainbow Coaltion!  Of course, these are the same people who’d think nothing of detailing their pick-up trucks with housepaint.
    The problem with this approach is that they’re not fooling anybody.  Now, instead of absurdly-grinning brown jockeys, we have absurdly-grinning PINK jockeys!  Throw a tarp on the roof and a garishly-painted statue of the Virgin Mary on the front lawn because we now have class, Loretta!  Yee-ha!
    Eschewing the caveman approach, the more enlightened opt to purchase little white (and by “white” I mean a shade which would make Casper the Ghost look like George Hamilton) lawn jockeys.  Fancying themselves eminently sensitive, these “wine-in-a-box”  people actually believe installing palefaced driveway monitors demonstrates their heartfelt devotion to equal opportunity and bad taste.
    I guess the implication that you have servants is okay if they’re the same color as you.
    Hey, wait a minute, how about killing two birds with one stone?
    If you’re going to insist on garish outdoor displays, why not just replace your lawn jockeys with your garden gnomes?
    Not only will they eliminate the possible stigma of you being cast as a heartless oppressor, the sight of garden gnomes will probably scare away any uninvited visitors.
    Just keep it quiet.  We don’t want the Yard Pixey Anti-Defamation League to catch wind of this.        


  1. Hey, my little guy has garden gnomes, although they have no hats. But he's 10, so you can forgive him, right?

  2. Penwasser you are close to my heart. Although I have equal love for yard jockeys, gnomes, geese with clothes, frogs and other whatnots. I reserve my undying loyalty to the mecca of southern culture: the seahorse birdbath.

    OMG, please don't let the Pixie Anti-Defamation League find me.

  3. Truth be told, I even had lawn flamingos. So, youngins' can have all the garden gnomes they desire!
    I forgot about the seahorse birdbath!
    <> I do miss the South!

  4. I like the bath tub shrines...they are the tackiest ones I can think of!

  5. I do have lawn flamingos, but they're skeletal, so does that make it okay?

  6. It's a sad tale....I owned two, Moe and Flo (the 'Mingo' couple). It still hurts to remember when Flo was tragically destroyed in an errant lawnmower accident a couple years ago. Oh, my, the memory is still severe....I'm sorry...I have to stop sobbing and go watch some TV.

  7. I'd happily greet the gnomes--it would mean the GD snow has melted!

  8. Yes, my flamingo, Moe, has disappeared under the drifts.