Suburban Landscapes

I’m a fescue man, matured from youth as a fescue boy, a time where I spent summer nights with my bare feet buried in dewy three-inch blades of it. During July days, I’d pick dandelion blossoms from the fescue carpet on Yulan Drive. At night, when the Dukes of Hazzard was coming on, I’d run in with pieces of grass stuck to my feet, the product of youthful carelessness and my mom’s afternoon mowing. My parents’ grass had roots in the southwest Missouri soil and they somehow wormed their way into how I look at suburban landscapes.

Where I come from, fescue was the thing. If anyone mentioned Bermuda, we thought shorts before grass. It wasn’t until I ventured out from the city limit neighborhood that I started discovering that there was a world outside fescue. If it wasn’t a shock, it was at least a real kick in the seat of the shorts.

Bermuda. Who would’ve thought there was a grass that greened only a few months out of the year, barely grew above its roots, and looked like it had always been freshly mowed? It was like a homeowner’s dream. Instead of mowing once a week, it seemed Bermuda owners lived a life that began and ended on the 18th green.

I bought my house in 2000, and, no surprise, its lawn was fescue, instantly called to get it sorted out. It was comfortable, if almost impossible to maintain. Once the contract was signed, weeds raised their flags and bare spots spread like red clay oil slicks. The grass was its own thing, and I couldn’t control it on my own.

It was then that I looked across the street and saw the neighbor with the Bermuda grass. He was a closet wife beater and wore a walkman and headphones when he trimmed his grass. He sang out loud and off key. For the summer months, when my grass was either sand-brown or uneven with weeds, the neighbor’s yard looked like it was maintained by the greenskeepers from Augusta National. I couldn’t decide if I pitied him more for how bad he sang or how little effort he really had to put into his lawn. There were times that I didn’t even want to look at his yard at all and I even briefly considered getting a bigger fence to block the view. If you want to do this sort of thing, or if you simply want to improve the quality of your fencing, you might want to take a look at some options at Illinois Fence Company since they’ve got a wide range of different styles of fence that would look great in your backyard.

I developed a theory over time about Bermuda grass owners. I watched them as they tended to their lawns. They did it far more often than necessary, some even clipping small pieces of it with house scissors. Every garden looked immaculate, accessorized with furniture like the ones found on the Charming Bench Company website. They were the people who needed their lives to look perfect on the outside and needed to be seen tending to the perfection. I considered my lawn, misshapen and brown, a proud admission of my relaxed life outlook. And if anyone asked why I didn’t have the perfect lawn, I had the perfect excuse: Hey, what can I do? Forget it, Jake. It’s fescue.

That’s when the Corner Bastard came in and turned my life upside down.

Corner Bastard lives up the street and around the corner of my little cookie cutter neighborhood. He drives perfect little cars, has perfect little bushes, and has a lawn of green fescue that not only is the pride of the neighborhood, but has managed to emasculate me in such a way that I can barely drive by without reminding my wife that I was “man enough to give her a baby, so stop looking at the damned grass like you want to have sex on it.”

Corner Bastard blew my Bermuda theory right out of the Caribbean. Never in history has a lawn of fescue been so well maintained, perfectly groomed, and artfully crafted. It’s as if God himself came down with a golden John Deere and rode around for seven days and nights.

It didn’t matter when I drove by or what the weather was like. The lawn was perfect. I eventually lost my mind. In early 2006, I was on a quest to become an evil-doer and this guy entered into my plan. At the time, when I was feeling a little more rage, I called him PC. You can read about that time in Becoming An Evil-Doer Step 2.

In short, I had long believed I could leave a relaxed life of disorder because that’s just the was fescue was. Corner Bastard proved me wrong.

Tonight after dinner, the wife chose a walk over a trip for ice cream. We four, a husband, wife, child, and dog headed up to the park. Along the way we were forced to walk by the house on the corner. I heard my wife before I saw it.

“Woah,” she said.

I looked at Corner Bastard’s grass. It was long and uneven.

“He must be dead,” I said out loud, not bothering to conceal my hope.

We walked on, not saying anything more. I started playing out scenarios in which the guy had become an alcoholic, porn-addict, foot fetishist who got caught doing body shots off his nanny’s feet. You can’t very well mow the lawn when you’re in rehab.

It was a perfect night. The near-waning gibbous moon was still waiting to come over the horizon. The local Hispanic population was playing soccer. My kid was pretending he was a super hero. I was the perfect father and breathing with the breeze.

After a stroll around the walking path, we wandered into the little playground to let the kid climb for a while. I was hidden under a cap and behind sunglasses, so my wife couldn’t see my eyes turn to slits.

“We may have to leave,” I said.


I nodded across the mulch.

“Oh,” she said, and nodded.

There he stood with a soccer ball in his hand and chatting with another fit, well-groomed neighbor. Me? My hat was frayed, my shirt was wrinkled, and I hadn’t shaved in almost two weeks. He? He was the picture of the perfect damned father. Like J.C. Penney catalog perfect. Why was his grass long? Because he was taking time out of his life to be a better father. Suddenly, I hated myself for hiring a lawn service this year.

A gangly kid walked in our direction. There was little doubt he was the guy’s son. My boy ran up to him.

“Hi! What’s you name?” L’il Otis asked. The kid answered.

“I’m Mr. Incredible,” my boy said in response and assumed a super hero pose.

The kid didn’t know what to say. He stared for a second and then ran away.

“Looks like he has his dad’s social skills,” my wife mused.

I’m not sure what it was, but I felt better. I hated the guy less and liked myself more. He didn’t have to be an adulterer with a drinking problem and I didn’t have to have a green thumb. In our heart of hearts, we were both fescue men.

I do not feel any other kinship with this guy. I still think he spends too much time on his lawn, but, I’m done hating him and hating myself for it. He has his own problems, like teaching his son not to run away from potential friendship.

I have a lawn service, a wife who still goes to bed with me, and a super hero for a kid.

I am a fescue man.

Labels: , ,

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. Hey fescue man – ever heard of Zoysia? It’s the thin leaf bermuda version of fescue. It hybernates in the winter and grows without much water. And it is oh so soft. Like walking on a nice cool shag carpet.
    I’m a Zoysia man. And my kid is currently Cinderella.

    As always, a great read.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

  3. Given the region I’m in and only approximately 45 minutes away from your Yulan memories, your fescue description explains the issues we have with our five acres of regular mowing. I’m just glad my husband talked me into agreeing to the big ass lawn mower rather than the one my more frugal mind was considering.

    Love the image of God himself driving his john deer around Corner Bastard’s lawn. Cracked me up.

    And by the way, last night’s moon was a waxing gibbous–about as waxing as a gibbous can get, because tonight, the 27th, is a full moon. I only know these things because my four year old daughter is precocious and wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.

  4. Anonymous Uncle Ted says:

    I know designate that anytime anyone at LEAF asks what your name is, you raise your arms and shout: “I’m Mr. Incredible!”

  5. Anonymous SHEP says:

    I was thinking maybe corner bastard was busted at the local fireworks store,
    another good write.

    from another fescue man!except mine has turned to weeds and other mixed grasses that creaped over from the bastards in my neck of the woods