One of my earliest memories from childhood is pink flamingos in the front yard. No, I didn't grow up in Florida, or wherever flamingos are indigenous. I grew up in upstate New York. And the pink flamingos in my yard were plastic.
Sticking so-called decorative objects in the yard or on the sides of houses or fences isn't new. Flamingos in the front bushes were popular 50+ years ago, as were gazing balls and kissing figurines and (eek) lawn jockeys. Some of the more unfortunate of the yard decor over the years are items like the bathtub flower pot, the flower "bed" made from a real bed frame, with the head- and footboards buried on either end of the daffodil patch, tires with petunias popping up from inside, and perhaps the most objectionable of all, the toilet bowl planter. Okay, I suppose we can chalk some of this up to people without much taste trying to be creative. I guess they figure flowers are nice no matter what they're planted in.
Just lately, though, maybe in the last 10 or 15 years, lawn "art" has gone a little haywire. There was the cut-out of the fat lady bending over in the garden, the squatting gnome with his bare bottom showing, the giant butterflies stuck to the side of the house, and, more recently, the creepy dark and shadowy figure of a bear lurking near the back door, or even worse, the creepy dark and shadowy figure of a cowboy-type leaning against a post smoking a cigarette. I can't count the number of times I've spasmed in the car at twilight when driving by somebody's house and seeing that guy skulking near a neighbor's fence.
Now there's a new one. Stars. Big stars, little stars, giant stars, dozens of stars affixed to barns and homes. What's with all the stars?? I've gotten into the habit of paying attention now to the explosion of stars that people have decided to tack to the doors and gables and clapboard. They're bothering me so much I've come to believe it's some kind of cult and that the star people know something we non-star people don't.
This kind of thinking, of course, led me to ponder Dr. Seuss's story about star-bellied sneetches. Sneetches, yellow creatures who live on the beach, are split into two groups: those with a green star on their bellies and those without. The story is Dr. S's way of teaching kids about discrimination. The star-bellied steetches think they're somehow better and cooler than the sneetches without stars. When a crafty entrepreneur comes along and charges the non-star sneetches to put a star on their bellies with his special machine, the star-bellied sneetches get crazy and want their stars removed, which is accomplished with his other special machine. The sneetches run back and forth between the machines until, as Dr. Seuss put it, "neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one or that one was this one or which one was what one or what one was who." The sneetches ultimately run out of money and, in true Dr. Seuss fashion, learn to get along.
I can't look at a star on a house these days without thinking of the Star-Bellies. Do the star people think they're cooler, or better, than those of us without stars? Is there some kooky star cult out there that us non-star folk know nothing about? Or is this just one more goofy outside ornament that a crafty entrepreneur has come up with to bilk money out of unsuspecting consumers? I suppose time will tell.
In the meantime, I'm keeping a sharp eye on the star-people houses. Because you never know.