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My yard has been assaulted by bugs: grasshoppers, beetles, wasps, grubs, ants, and potato bugs. They have marched in, burrowed down and feasted. I can imagine them meeting underground and dividing up the yard. A Grasshopper would be the leader, with armored potato bugs on either side. After a round of “We Got the Whole World in Our Hands,” everyone would be assigned a post: “Okay you ants, draw their attention by creating mounds in the flower beds. Beetles, you eat bushes, grubs attack the lawn, and wasps, see what you can do to keep the humans indoors.”  

Our neighbor has one of those lawns that really is greener on the other side of the fence. Several times each summer, a white van pulls up to their curb and a man in a green polo sprays their lawn and bushes. We have tried to shift for ourselves, but we were losing the war. So my DH had me call the company with the white van. For no less than the cost of a trip to Disney Land they’d come get rid of our bugs. Not the lawn grubs. Not the weeds. That would be the Danube River Cruise package. We decided to try plan B.

My DH put a scalloped leaf, like a lab specimen, into a baggie, took pictures of bushes with his phone and we went to IFA.

Right away I felt out of place. I wore capris, sandals and a pink top. My DH had a baby blue polo on. At IFA they wore wranglers and buckles and talked in deep voices that could make a girl’s knees grow weak in moon light.

One man listened politely, examined the leaf encased in plastic and squinted at the pictures on the tiny display. Then, [while biting back a smile—I’m sure] he said, “You need Joe.” He led us through the store to where Joe was and presented us as if we were about to receive a special audience with the great Kahuna of Nature. Joe didn’t even pretend to look at the leaf and disdained the pictures on the phone. He was tall, trim, and smelled of leather. When he said “Give them 30,” I wanted to squeal like a groupie. Then he walked away in his tight jeans and I swear I could hear a cowboy singing about sun-streaked skies at dusk and his faithful horse.

[Yes, I know there’s several differences between farmers and cowboys. But neither one would wear a pastel polo.]

We were led to the Aisle of Poison. The man reached up to a high shelf. “This one you could spray on your pet, your livestock,” a quick glance at our city clothes, “your petunias. It’s a 4.” Putting it back he showed us another one. “This one is the mother-in-law formula. It’s a 30.” ‘Nuff said. That’s the one we got.

Back home, Sherlock and I were banished to the house while DH put on rubber boots that came to his knees, yellow rubber gloves to his elbows, a mask, hat and sign that said, “I’m Susan’s husband.” (Well not quite that much.) Then he proceeded to spray the yard with his gleaming new sprayer and enough poison to break up the camp meeting underground.

It’s been two days and it’s still hard to tell (since leaves don’t grow back where they’ve been eaten). But I have learned something from this.

Next time I’m going to IFA by myself. And I’m doing my hair up first.