Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Lawn People

The neighbors arrived two by two, planted themselves on our front lawn and didn't budge till the big budget movie was over. We should've monetized the situation, sold popcorn and lemonade, we could've cleaned up. But back then, pre-microwaves, popping Jiffy Pop over the stove to feed that many lookie-loos would've taken an eternity. All those lawn people. My poor daddy. He had a thing about the lawn. He was always yelling at kids, "Get off the lawn." It didn't boost our popularity in the neighborhood. The kids he yelled at did the opposite, stomping on the lawn, riding bikes on the lawn, egging the lawn on Halloween. Daddy and his lawn. A big issue. Huge. Not this time, though. He wouldn't dare boot anyone off the lawn. Not when they'd found a front row seat to all the action. He was a Hollywood writer, after all. He appreciated the cinematic moment.
There was so much real-life drama that day. Sirens blaring. Firetrucks. Big burly heroes in uniform, bravely trying to save a house from ruin. But in the end, the fire won. The house directly across the street burned right to the ground. The lawn people kept asking, "Was anyone home? Did anyone get hurt? Did the family get out in time?" Maybe the captain said, "No one was home. Show's over, folks." Maybe he didn't. They say it in movies all the time, so it would've made sense that day. I can't remember what started the fire, it was so long ago. But I do remember how sad I felt, watching the house collapse and the smoke fill the sky. And then the curtain came down and the lawn people went home. And weeks later, the construction crew arrived. They carted off what remained of the old traditional house and put up a new one, an ultra-modern one that didn't look like the other houses in the neighborhood. It was the late '60s. Things were changing, even houses. I don't remember how long it took to build the new house, or when the family moved back in. But I do remember the day the lawn people came to watch a house burn down. And I remember thinking, "I hope that never happens to us."

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