Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Long arm of the lawn


Lawns are dumb.

Obviously, this is true in the sense that a lawn couldn't even pass a basic literacy test. But I'd also argue that lawns are simply a bad idea to begin with, a thing that doesn't really need to exist. Some people have attacked lawns for wasting precious water that could be drunk, wasting precious land that could be used to grow food to eat, and wasting precious pesticides that could be used on your food instead.

But for me, the worst thing about lawns is the fact that one has to mow them. Sure, this give you a chance to make bad lawn puns like "Mow Lawn Rouge" or "I fought the lawn, and the lawn won", or "Lawn Order: Special Mowing Unit", or maybe I should stop now before I use up all possible titles for this column.

My point being, while having a lawn isn't so bad, mowing a lawn is definitely bad. Nobody really likes pushing a lawn-mower around, as it's a lot of effort to chop up all the grass under your feet and spit it back out on top of your feet. Although not as much effort as doing it all manually with your teeth. But while the time and effort to mow a lawn may be an annoyance, the most dangerous effect is that American adulthood sneaks up on you.

Every time I mow the lawn I worry that I am becoming a caricature of 1980s suburbia, constantly checking over my shoulder to make sure nobody is trying to sneak around and put up a white picket fence behind me — or worst of all, try to hand me 2.3 children. (It's always very messy when someone tries to hand you .3 of a child.)

I've heard there's a horror movie called Lawnmower Man, which I presume is about a normal man who thinks he's leading his own life in the way he wants rather than bowing to the pressures of society, but one day he wakes up and he's pushing a lawnmower across his lawn, looks down and sees that he is wearing a tie and a wedding ring.

It's not that I hate society. I just have an uneasy relationship with it because it wants me to do things and I don't want to do them. I want to do my own things, and it looks at me strangely and thinks I'm weird and can't understand why I won't just get married and get a regular job like a normal person. And so I resist society, and society continues to view me with suspicion.

And by society, I mean my dad.

But it really all comes down to the lawn. Being a good member of society isn't something you can instantly tell about someone by looking at them, but it is something you can tell by looking at their lawn. My old lawn was always overgrown, which brought shame on my family. I recently moved to a new house, a process filled with various challenges and obstacles, and many potentials for unpleasant complications. And my parents had one big worry about the new house, which they asked me repeatedly:

"Are you going to be able to keep up with the lawn?"

Well, having now lived here for a few months, it turns out, we have been able to keep up with the lawn. And it also turns out, that's also not a perfect bellwether for whether or not someone is a productive member of society. Because I'm still not.

Sorry, Dad.

— Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse", and refuses to join any society which would have him as a member. His website is


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