Friday, August 15, 2008

In the Weeds

This week, our dappled duo hits the back yard to battle Beau's consuming fear of histamine-inducing herbs ... with a hose.

Done with the yard work, Beau? It looks great! Give me a big hug—

Don’t touch me, Mandy!


I’ve been fighting a tangle of weeds and briars in the back. It’ll take a few days to clear the whole thing out. There’s poison sumac all over me.

Aw, honey, I don’t care about—

Have you ever seen someone with a poison sumac rash, Mandy? Not pretty. My cousin Bernard got into a patch of it once while hiking shirtless. He blew up like a puffin! … A puffin!

But I don’t see any poison sumac on you.

Yes, but the juices, Mandy. The poison sumac juices cling to and seep into every fiber they come in contact with. My gloves, for instance, are practically dripping with them.

What do you want me to do?

Grab a paper sack. I’m going to have to burn these clothes.

But I bought you that hat. It looks so nice—

Sentimentality isn’t our ally here, Mandy. We’re going to have to be strong.

OK, OK. But, Beau! Not the shirt that you wore on our camping trip last summer!

Need I remind you what happens when one comes in contact with poison sumac, Mandy?

So you’re down to your skivvies. Can I hug you now?

What?! If so much as a mosquito happened to graze a poison sumac plant stem and then skim the lining of my boxers when I was bending over—

Alright, fine. Throw them in the sack. So now you’re standing buck-naked on the back porch here in “Mosquitoville,” Texas.

Grab the hose, Mandy.

What? Here?

Not euphemistically. The actual garden hose.

Are you out of your mind?

The poison sumac juices … they absorb into one's clothes and mix with one's sweat and eventually get sucked into the pores. I just want you to get the surface layer off my skin before I hop in the shower.

This is ridiculous. I’m going inside.

Need I remind you—?

Fine! OK, fine!

A puffin, I tell you! A puffin!

I’ll just do a gentle spray.

No, you’re really going to have to press the handle all the way in. A real power clean. The surface of the human body is as stubborn and clingy as grout on a tile wall.

If you say so, Beau.

Ow! Watch my sensitive areas, Mandy.

Something feels really wrong about this, Beau.

A puffin!!

The next day, after more yard work

First off, I want to apologize about the incident that occurred yesterday. I don’t know what got into me.

Apology accepted. Does that mean you’ll put your clothes back on now?

I mean, what was I thinking, asking you, a white woman, to turn a hose on me? It was like my blind hatred of poison sumac rendered me completely insensitive to the history of the Civil Rights Movement, the fire hoses turned on 1960’s protestors of Jim Crow.

I’m glad you’ve seen the light, but can we continue this discussion indoors?

That’s why today, as a symbolic gesture meant to distance what we’re doing from this ugly chapter in American history, I’ve brought a bar of soap.

Beau, no—

Ready the hose.

I was afraid you were going to want to go through with this again. That’s why today, I’ve invited my supervisor from work, Akwasi, to do your dirty work.


What in the—? Mandy, I’m naked!

And here we go!

You’re not shy about being au naturel in front of Akwasi, are you? He is your “brother,” isn’t he? Part of the African American community?

Ow! Akwasi is African, not African American! There’s a difference.

This ees fun!

Hmm, is it wrong of me to watch? Should I go inside? I want to be politically correct.

Ow! Akwasi, get behind my ears!

And the next day, after yet more yard work

OK, so I messed up yesterday for a second time. I admit it. I’ll accept the blame. But I vow to you, Mandy, it will not happen again.

So we can finally end this ridiculous ritual now?

Don’t be silly, Mandy. Do I have to remind you about what happens when one comes in contact with poison sumac?

Yeah, I know. I know. A puffin.

We just hadn’t thought it through yesterday before involving Akwasi. He being West African, his ancestors are just as complicit in the selling and exploitation of my African American ancestors as yours are. We might as well have been handing the hose to a Klansman.

Beau, can we please just go inside and forget about this?

Last time, Mandy. I’ve brought out shampoo and conditioner for formality’s sake—

I don’t want to do this anymore!

And I’ve asked Akwasi to stay home this time.

I’m going inside.

Mandy, we have to stay strong. … Ready the hose.

Unbelievable. After all this, you still … sigh … I knew this was going to happen. That’s why I’ve invited over our across-the-street neighbor, Lester.

Hey-oh! I was just out walking my dog and she called me over.


Lester will be doing the honors today.

She’s paying me that eight dollars you wouldn’t lend me last week. Remember?

OK, whatever. Let’s do this thing.

Here, Mandy, hold on to my pit bull for me.


Ow! Hey, Lester, watch out for my sensitive areas!

Where do you think I’m aiming?


Whoa, pup! Easy!

Ow! Mandy, keep a good grip on that leash!

Heh heh heh

This is OK, right? I mean, this isn’t a German shepherd. So it’s PC … right?


Think I can get that eight dollars now?


Shawna said...


Shawna said...

oh cool. i just noticed you added me under "Friends". I'm honored. :)

Abdel Shakur said...

You got problems.

Jackson Brown said...


Marcus Wicker said...

This joint just made my morning.