Jon de Vos: Rambo versus the pond slug " part 19
May 23, 2008
This time every year, my wife starts looking at me like a Swiss-Army Garden Weasel, as if I should be able to clean up entire yards in a single bound. She is ever an enthusiastic source of my motivation.
One day, she decided our backyard was boring. It needed a “water feature.” A “water feature” is just another way for a woman to say, “No, I think it would look better over there.” Her vision was a gurgling pond out of Better Homes and Gardens in the backyard, while mine was a 1963 Porsche GS Carrera convertible in the front yard. I hate to spoil the ending of a nice column, but she hates the pond and I don’t get the Porsche.
I met her early demands for a pond with spirited objections, “What happens when we’re overrun with deadly waterheads and copper moccasins?” This worked for a couple of days before she glared and said, “You’re stalling.” Ultimately, I was forced to resort to a move that some would label bold and inspired, while others would say pathetic and desperate. I asked her, “Have you ever stepped on a pond slug?”
“Slug,” it turned out, was a poor choice of words, being both a noun and a verb.
Knowing when to fold ’em is so important for the enduring marriage. So, I took up my shovel and walked off to the backyard, where I dug an alarming hole and packed it with local rocks for authenticity and topped it off with some water. I packed rocks high. I packed rocks low. Eventually, I achieved a certain look that my wife referred to as “Abandoned Quarry.”
Neighbors gaped in wonder, showering me with equivocal remarks like, “Gosh, you must have really worked hard, uh, you know, getting all those rocks. Together, that is. All in one place. With water in the middle, you know, sort of like a pond.” I admit it lacked that certain flair, but it got me off the hook for a few years. Everything could have been fine until my wife disturbed the babble of our artificial brook to whisper sweetly, “Your stupid pond sucks.”
As it was with the builders of Stonehenge, the local stones weren’t good enough. A prophet is never recognized in his own country. Apparently, local rocks were sadly inadequate to express the subtle but elegant ambiance of my wife’s vision. So, she sent me to the Pebble Boutique, hundreds of miles away, to purchase designer rocks to hide the offending native rocks. Seems like rocks are only dirt cheap when they’re underfoot. The imports were priced such that you had to dress up like Tom Shane to buy them.
I packed designer rocks left, I packed designer rocks right and when I was done, darned if the new pond didn’t look like the old pond made out of imported rocks. The neighbors came flocking back, gushing with compliments like, “I thought it would be bigger.”
One stepped up to the edge, looked into the distance, and said, “Where is it?”
Perhaps they expected a lap pool or an afternoon of water skiing. Maybe they’re buying a boat and looking for a place to dock it in Fraser. After they left, my feelings were hurt and I wiped away a tear. I noticed my wife looking at me oddly.
“What?” I finally asked.
“I thought you were my new water feature,” she replied.