War of the weeds

Most television commercials leave you: (a) talking back to the TV and (b) wondering about the general level of intelligence of your fellow citizens. This, of course, is not news. But it does at least provide fodder for columnists like me, engaged as we are in relentless weekly searches for fun things to skewer.

My favorite ad of the summer so far is the one where the two burly next-door neighbors meet in a face-off on the front sidewalk, about 20 feet apart. One burly dude is packing a bottle of RoundUp weed-killer, the other is burdened with the inferior spray herbicide from Acme. At each burly dude’s feet is one medium-sized weed, growing through a crack in the sidewalk. As the frenzied, vigilante music builds to its melodramatic climax, each burly dude blasts his target, and—no surprise here—the RoundUp blastee dies a quicker, more shrivelly, perhaps even agonizing death in just a few hours.

Now, sure, these two slobs can’t be expected to act like Mensa candidates here, since, after all, they are paid lackeys pushing domestic poison, and as such, are slaves to the director and scriptwriters. That’s fine and understood. The image that assails my mind is that of the millions of wanna-be macho slobs out there in TV land who see this ad and think, “Aha! The virile new way to kill weeds! I’ll pick up some RoundUp on my next trip to Big Mart and kill all weeds from this day on with a barrage of deadly squirting!” These gents predictably let those thoughts slide into fantasies of weed-free sidewalks, inspiring lusty pool parties among tank-topped coeds.

One wonders if any of these RoundUp guys would, just for a minute, interrupt his psychotic musings to consider the possibility that, instead of showering his dastardly weed with a spray of corporate slime that does its job in hundreds of minutes, he might instead get up off the sofa (a bit of a struggle, considering the tenacious sinkhole that his body has crushed into the cushions), walk out to the sidewalk, and assume a standing position directly above the weed. Then, bending at the waist, comfortably flexing his knees so as to not strain the muscles of the lower back, he would grip the offending weed at its vulnerable, leafy base with the first three fingers of his dominant hand. At this crucial point comes the moment of truth: pulling upward with a firm, steady motion, he would completely uproot the offending flora, instantly rendering it lame, harmless fodder destined for the nearest trash container. And in approximately one one-trillionth of the time it would take the RoundUp to do its job.

Of course, “pulling” the weed, as it used to be called, would involve actually touching the plant itself, and, I don’t know, that just may be an extremely uncool thing to do here in the new millennium.