Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lawn stepper.

I go to a writing group on Tuesday nights. It's an interesting mix of people from very different backgrounds and I always come away with new ideas and creative solutions. I enjoy this group a great deal and I look forward to it every week.

Tonight I left for group a little late. Generally, I try very hard not to do this as we workshop material in the order we arrive at the table. Since we all have day jobs and the group goes until ten, you're much better off going early in the night while everybody's awake. I was late, but I only saw one car on the street so I thought I was going to be able to go pretty early.

I parked the car, turned off the iPod, unplugged my phone from the charger, unbuckled my seat belt, grabbed my bag off the seat and lurched out of the car... as another car pulled up to the curb. I watched as the other group member popped out of her car and headed toward the house.

I did the math: it was going to be close.

I started speed-walking down the sidewalk, messenger bag swaying as I went. It became clear that she was going to beat me if I followed the pavement so I cut across the lawn. She made a face and said something under her breath. "Hello," I said, thinking she was greeting me.

She gave me a weird look and repeated herself. "You're a lawn stepper." Her tone indicated that I liked to pan fry infants and bathe in the blood of freshly slaughtered unicorns.

I stopped and looked down at my feet on the grass. Yep. I was stepping all over the lawn in an egregious act of walking! I wasn't sure how I was going to live with myself.

"I'm not allowed to walk on the lawn?"

"Well, it makes it hard for it to grow, to look nice."

I don't have a lawn, so I don't think of these things. The guilt hit me in waves. Obviously, I had ruined everything and there would soon be an angry mob of homeowners on the scene to bury me in Miracle Grow. I had broken a fundamental law of the universe and I would have to suffer.

I grunted, swallowed a series of snarky comments and quickly made my way across the rest of the lawn without making eye contact. She was already at the door, which meant she had won the foot race and got to workshop her material before me.

Lawn Nazi: 2
Jeff: 0

The "lawn stepping" issue followed us to the table. She brought the matter to the attention of the group and tried to make me into some kind of insensitive prick for walking across the lawn. Andy, the group leader and homeowner, smirked and said he didn't give a shit about the lawn. Turns out he used to have a nice lawn but they did some work on the house and it messed up the sprinkler system and he gave up on it long time ago. Lawn Princess tried to convince Andy he needed a gardener and the whole conversation turned into a debate about the benefits of hiring people to clean your house and take care of your yard.

I was off the hook, but I wasn't finished.

The Patron Saint of Lawns was the first out of her chair when we wrapped up. I hung back, allowing everybody to beat me to the door. I watched them file out behind her, everybody still talking about the good work we'd read. When I hit the porch I called her name, everybody turning to look at me.

I held out my arms. I didn't say anything else because I didn't have to. The three other group members walking across the lawn on the way to their cars said it all.

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