God and LAWNS

"Winterize your lawn," the big sign outside the garden store commanded. I've fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterize it? I hope it's too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we've come up with outside of thong swimsuits! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four-step chemical dependency.

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis about this:

"Frank you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles."

"It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass."

"Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

"Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

"The spring rains and cool weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."

"Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it sometimes twice a week."

"They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?"

"Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

"No, sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

"Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

"Yes, sir."

"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

"You aren't going believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

"What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life."

"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away."

"No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?"

"After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

"And where do they get this mulch?"

"They cut down trees and grind them up."

"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?"

"Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about..."

"Never mind I think I just heard the whole story."

Brutal Toys -

WARNING: This describes the cruel, mental torture of innocent toy store employees. Readers under the age of 13 should be accompanied by an adult.

An "Anti-shopping" Trip with the Los Angeles Cacophony Society by Rev. Al

I had been thinking for a long time about making cement filled teddy bears. I wasn't exactly sure why. At first it was just a perceptual curiosity I wanted to experience, and I wanted others to experience: the idea of being handed what appeared to be a fluffy stuffed animal, only to have it go tearing through your relaxed fingers like a lead meteor.

The Christmas shopping season seemed an ideal time to get them on the shelves of Los Angeles toy stores, so late in November, members of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society gathered in my backyard to gut several dozen plush toys and replace their innards with Portland's finest.

We called them, "Cement Cuddlers".

Each bear wore a full-color laminated label identifying it as such complete with bar code from another toy. Inside the folded tag was the text:

Unfortunate Child, do not mistake me for a living thing, nor seek in me the warmth denied you by your parents. For beneath my plush surface lies a hardness as impervious and unforgiving as this World's own indifference to your mortal struggle. Hold on to me when you are sad, and I will weigh you down, but bear this weight throughout your years, and it will strengthen your limbs and harden your will so that one day no man dare oppose you.

The target was easy to select. Not far away was a large not-to-be- named toystore, the biggest and newest of the chain in Southern California, a massive thing like the newly christened Titanic just begging for its iceberg.

By 10:30, around a dozen Cacophonists had slipped in managing to place several bears on the shelves without arousing suspicion. Not content to just leave them there we appointed Cacophonist Todd to help direct the management's attention to our prank. At 10:35 Todd entered, located a Cuddler, and brought it to the register, informing the cashier he couldn't find the price.

Predictably, as he placed the innocent looking toy in those unwary hands, it went crashing to the floor like a particularly heavy bowling ball. After this, it just got worse. Todd began to demand a speedier price check, insisting that he had only minutes to complete this transaction before it would be too late to bring the bear to his nephew who was, as he repeated many times for our benefit, "in the hospital with a skin rash." This element of his story, however, did not appear to provoke the suspicion of the clerk, who apparently had no difficulty in imagining her customer entering the children's ward not long before 11 PM to dump a lump of fur-covered construction material in the lap of an ailing youngster.

However, as Todd's volume increased, backups arrived. One of the more astute clerks commented that she had never seen this toy before and wished to know what shelf it had come from. Indignantly Todd led them to the appropriate place. A half dozen clerks, and several customers gathered round in bewilderment, passing the four bears amongst themselves and shaking their heads.

I eventually moved into earshot, and heard one woman reading the tag aloud. "That's really deep!" she exclaimed. I could no longer resist. I moved in to express curiosity about this toy.

"Oh! That's a cute bear," I remarked as I reached for a Cuddler. Without warning, it was placed in my hands, which (naturally) were prepared to be unprepared for its weight. Another thunderous crash!

Now I was outraged! "Look here!" I said. "The labels say, for ages 2-10! How could "Nameless Toystore Chain" sell such a dangerous toy to 2-year-olds!"

Eventually I was calmed and began contemplating buying one for an older nephew. Cacophonist Frank became interested in buying one too. We all went to the register.

Thanks to the fully functional bar code, the farce continued. However, the bar code used was from another toy, and so the computer identified the toy as: Alien Face Hugger - $1.99. More panic and confusion. The manager was called. In the chaos, the bears are handed back and forth a few times more giving Todd one more opportunity to let one fall, this time "on his foot" (about 4 inches from his toes). He begins to wail and pulls off his shoe and sock. The clerks are incredulous.

"Would you say he dropped that on his foot?" one says to me.

"I don't want to get involved," I say, secretly gesturing that Todd seems crazy.

The manager arrives, and he is young and sour-looking. Easily a control freak. We feel he is our divinely ordained victim.

They explain the difficulty with the scans, but he seems to pay little attention to the computer. Instead his eyes keep darting to Todd as he leaps around on one foot howling about the lethal bears to other customers.

"Come with me, sir. We'll see what we can do for you," he snaps, dragging Todd off to his little manager pen.

Frank and I continue as good cops to Todd's bad cop routine, but continue to hover at the register insisting on the purchase. We discuss with the clerks how troubled Todd seems and reread the label.

"This is weird," one clerk finally realizes, "a Teddy Bear literally filled with cement."

I suggest it might be a doorstop for children's bedrooms.

Then a ray of light descends on Nameless Toystore. "It's like a joke someone's playing or something," says one of our blue-vested assistants.

"You mean," asks Frank, with wonderfully stylized naivete, "like someone made them themselves? Maybe just this weekend? Took out the stuffing and replaced it with cement?"

"Or maybe that crazy guy did," says the clerk.

"No, no. Can't be," I say. "Why would he insist on buying from you something he made himself. That's illogical!"

Suddenly we hear Todd's voice booming again from the front of the store.

They have emerged from the manager pen.

This will mean so much to Bobby. God Bless you!" And he leaves with the bear in bag. $1.99! Lucky bastard!

Manager-man hurries to the counter with his panicky stick-up-the-rear gait, one ear pressed to a cellular, doubtlessly consulting the Nameless Toystore overlords. We mob him, insisting to know the price arrived at.

"They're not for sale."

We are incredulous, indignant. "This item is discontinued." He bites off the word and rushes to the shelves to haul the Cuddlers away. We continue to needle him as he gathers the bears. Suddenly, he swings around holding the furry blocks of cement as if he might do some harm. Perspiration has appeared on his forehead.

"Look!" he sputters, "I don't know how these things got on the shelves! They DON'T track correctly on the computer. I've never seen them before. I have NO explanation. It's like someone's playing a joke on MY STORE!"

It's in that word "my". You can tell. He's gotten that look like he's just seen the first crack in the brand new ceiling. We understand that if that crack widens by even a hairline, he's going to see through it. He already suspects Todd. He is probably 90 seconds from realizing that we're all part of it.

And so we decide to take advantage of our time.

"Could you at least tell us the manufacturer so maybe we could order the toy?"

He whips the label over, and reads, Brutal Truth Toys.

This is a good time to leave. There's still a half hour before midnight, so we take advantage of the energy we've gathered to make a few prank phone calls. I call a rival Nameless Toystore asking for Cement Cuddlers.

I'm put on hold and another clerk picks up the phone and claims to have actually pulled up the info on my Cement Cuddlers on the computer. He tells me I can get a raincheck. Sadly, when I ask for the stock number, he suddenly loses the record that he "just had, just a minute ago."

After going through three or four baffled and fairly easy to baffle clerks, I finally get to the manager. I am slightly indignant at the delays and feigned ignorance of a product I JUST PURCHASED THAT VERY NIGHT at their rival, the new Burbank store, we'd just invaded. The manager explains that this new store carries certain promotional items not available to the other stores because it is the newest and largest. I detect a note of envy in his voice, and soften my approach. I become confidential and ask if the new store hired away a lot of good workers.

"You know," I tell him, "I know it's big and everything, but it's so new... I mean, they didn't quite seem to have it all together yet." He agrees. He's heard rumors to this effect. "All the employees seemed, I don't know... nervous somehow. It's like the store's too big for them to handle. I get a nervous feeling when I go in there."

He knows what I mean.

"I think it's that manager, maybe. He seemed so tense and kinda angry somehow. He doesn't give me a good feeling. He seems a little odd. Have you heard anything like this?"

He's heard some funny things about this upstart.

"Yeah. Odd manager. Odd store. Come to think of it this whole cement teddy bear thing is pretty odd. Maybe this was just a special thing he wanted to order. Maybe they were his idea." He agrees, but he won't call the other store to see if they still have them in stock there. So I tell him I'll check back later.

And I will. It was a good night, and we still have 18 more bears to distribute.

Received from Packy Humor from The Good, Clean Funnies List



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