My Grass is Greener Than Your Grass

The lawn of a garden taken from a low level.

The lawn of a garden taken from a low level. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was awakened this morning by my furiously barking dog a little earlier than I had planned. I ran to the window to see what all the fuss was about…not a garbage truck or a pack of wild dogs roaming the neighborhood, but the TruGreen guy, adding chemicals to my front lawn.

Let me first start by saying how dumbfounded I was to transition from Condo life to owning a home in the burbs and learn about all the ridiculous expenses you incur taking care of a home: the guy who cuts the lawn and trims the bushes, the company that collects the garbage, the guys who clean the gutters, the exterminators and finally the guy who keeps the lawn green with chemicals. And these are just the regular recurring expenses…not to mention fixing old pipes, cutting down excessive trees (there is such i think, as I have learned from the Weed Eaters Central spring issue), replacing the heating and cooling system, building new front steps because the old wood is rotting, etc. And I have only been here about 2 years!
And i can understand most of the incurred costs of suburban living. There are lots of jobs you don’t want to or don’t have the time / skills to do. And the time / money factor plays a big role. At the end of the day I am pleased to employ somebody else to do my landscaping and clean my gutters. And of course I want to make sure my 30 year-old AC system doesn’t blow up / find ways to lower my energy costs in the long run.
But the green grass thing is the one thing that gives me pause. In my past reading / study of American culture, consumerism and the middle class / leisure classes, I have gotten a basic understanding of the “green grass” phenomenon. Having a home with land that you don’t need to use for subsistence / farming / etc. is a priviledge of those who are “better off”. It’s a fairly basic “hierarchy of needs” thing. The property then has necessary aesthetic value and should be kept up for literal sake of keeping up appearances. Being able to a keep a lawn green and manicured (maybe have a few flowers beds) means you either have the time or money to do so because you don’t have to spend all your time working and all your money on basic survival.
And then you get into the peer pressure part of it. If you are in a neighborhood where people (regardless of having excessive means) are keeping up their lawns, then it is your obligation to do the same lest you incur sideways stares from neighbors when you are walking your dog.
I liken it to the concept of fake tans. People who want to be seen as members of the “leisure class” will get fake tans to make it look like they have all kinds of time to lay out in the sun or go on expensive beach vacations.
My lawn has a bad-ass tan and is so leisurely it’s practically asleep.
And my suburban anthropological experience is starting to give me a trace amount of anxiety.
But I am sitting here on a paid vacation day, sipping on my home-made Nespresso latte, tip-tapping away on my overpriced MacBook and complaining about my “rich people problems”. I may be a narcissistic anthropologist, but I am nothing if not self-aware. 😉

But in all seriousness…my lawn is really freaking green.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Ethnography, middle class, Participant Observation, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “My Grass is Greener Than Your Grass

  1. I love this – growing up my grandfather cared for his lawn like it was a professional baseball field (literally), and when I explained to others which house was his, they’d remark “Oh, yeah, the place with the lawn.” I think his ego grinned from ear to ear. Oh, and btw, his address was 57 Suburban Drive. seriously.

  2. Great post. Green chemicals?! I had never heard of that before, although it doesn’t surprise me. Thanks!

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