For the past several years, we all know that there has been an emotional issue that has divided the nation. The other day, Connecticut became the second state to make the practice legal. After that happened, I interviewed Frank Wilson, the head of the Campaign For The Preservation of Keeping American Families The Way We Like Them. When I talked to him, he was a bit upset because he thought that his proposal should have been on all of the ballots across the country in the recent election. He calls his proposal Proposition 8A and it deals, of course, with the controversial issue of making it illegal for "anything other than the traditional lawn to be legally called a 'lawn.'"
We conducted the interview on his beautiful green lawn:
ME: Mr. Wilson, why shouldn't couples be allowed to have whatever kind of lawn they want?
WILSON: If you look up "lawn" in the dictionary, you'll find that it's defined as "a stretch of open, grass-covered land." It doesn't say a lawn is something that contains a rock garden, a waterfall, or a big tree in the middle of it like some people are trying to get away with these days.
ME: So, you don't like the way some of these non-traditional lawns look.
WILSON: We do not object to the way they look. What we object to is calling them "lawns."
ME: What do you think they should be called?
WILSON: Civil Union Front Yards. But they say that's not good enough.
ME: Maybe in the spirit of equality, they feel the same word should be used for them as the one used by more traditional lawns.
WILSON: Tough. We had the word first. Look, sure they should have the same legal rights as those who have normal front lawns – water, sunshine, etc.— but they are certainly not entitled to the name. These people have an agenda of changing a definition that has been important to the sanctity of American families for generations.
ME: What does a lawn have to do with the sanctity of American families?
WILSON: A lawn is where Americans have tossed baseballs and footballs around. It's where little kids wrestle. It's where young couples have sat and smelled the recently mowed grass.
ME: Yes, but...
WILSON: A lawn is made of American grass. Period. It's not a place where people admire a rock formation or listen to a waterfall. If two consenting adults want those kinds of things, they should put them in the privacy of their backyard. We don't want our children being taught about non-traditional lawns that belong to a small, but loud minority.
ME: Mr. Wilson, maybe it's time to accept that over the years, the meaning of the word "lawn" has evolved.
WILSON: Please don't bring that ridiculous "evolution" theory into this.
ME: But obviously, the vast lawn and garden of something like the Palace of Versailles is quite different from your own front lawn.
WILSON: Let's not bring the immorality of the French into this discussion.
ME: Mr. Wilson, you don't only object to couples having non-traditional lawns, but you claim that their having these lawns somehow denigrates your own lawn. Could you explain that, please?
WILSON: Glad to. If a couple has some weird thing in front of their house and they are legally allowed to call it a lawn, that diminishes the status of my own lawn. Next, anything could be called a lawn. A monkey could be called a lawn. And we don't want to allow monkeys to replace American families frolicking on their lawns.
SUDDENLY, THERE IS A LOUD NOISE COMING FROM NEXT DOOR.
ME: What was that?
WILSON: Next door neighbors. Those Macmillans are fighting again. One of them probably threw something at the other. It happens all the time.
ME: That's terrible.
WILSON: Yeah, it's one crazy family. Each of them has been married three times, their kids are on drugs, empty beer bottles come flying out of their house at all hours,...
ME: And yet, their lawn is perfectly manicured green grass.
WILSON: What's your point?
ME: Isn't it just possible that the couple down the street that has the nontraditional lawn with a rock garden and a waterfall might have a loving, caring family?
WILSON: How would I know? I've never met them. And I don't plan on it, either. Hey, is that crabgrass?
As Mr. Wilson bends over to weed his lawn, I resist kicking him in his traditional, American rear end.