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Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Am Not A Star-Bellied Sneetch

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.


11 comments:

Yard Police said...

The star people are keeping a sharp eye on you, too, wondering if you think you are cooler or better because of your choices in decor. Crafty entrepreneurs "bilking" money out of unsuspecting consumers? Please. This is America. As long as people keep their lawns mowed, what's a couple of pretty stars gonna hurt?

Larry Underwood said...

Dear Yard Police: Perhaps those long dead followers of "Reverand" Jim Jones thought, "it's only a glass of Kool-aid, what can it hurt?" And "pretty" is in the eye of the beholder. I, too, have long wondered what these stars mean. Initially, I thought them to be Christmas decorations, only seen during the winter months but, alas, this was not to be. I agree with Ms. Squeaky Pen - the stars are just one more decoration that, hopefully, will become out of favor in time. One star on one or two barns is interesting - dozens of these stars affixed to houses and barns in the span of a few miles is creepy.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Yes, Larry, the stars are creepy. And Yard Police? I'll bet you have one, don't you...

Yard Police said...

I do not have one. I think the people who have them are the Jim Jones types who put butterflies on their houses to announce that the mortgage is paid off. Cult symbols? How about the Confederate battle flag? I've been seeing a lot of that. If you're really "wondering","Larry", why don't you Google "meaning of decorative stars"?

Rose 10e said...

My grandma had the plastic duck with her ducklings poked into the lawn at her house when I was a little girl. Always struck me odd that a farmwife would use plastic birds as yard decor when they could easily have had the real thing there (except the plastic ones didn't poop.)

Bo said...

The Duck Family cult was particularly sinister. Right up there with the Pinwheels and the Gazing Balls. It's all creepy. With stuff like that on the lawn, one can only imagine what goes on INSIDE these homes.

Larry Underwood said...

Dear Yard Police: I don't need to google the meaning of decorative or stars. Nothing hidden there. I know the meaning of both. It is the INTENT of the people who place the stars on the barns and houses that I wonder about. A little difficult to google the intent of someone, don't you think?

Harry's Aunt said...

Dear Squeaky: It is also United Nations Day.
P.S. Enjoyed the Beatles "Birthday"

Yard Police said...

Dear Larry: Knowing the meaning of "decorative" and knowing the meaning of "stars" is not going to help you much on the road to finding the "meaning of decorative stars". I think that if you google, or otherwise research the "meaning of decorative stars" you will gain some insight into the possible intent of the "star people". There seem to be a number of traditions represented by stars, and they all seem to be about as evil as the tradition of planting daffodils.

Larry said...

Dear Yard Police: Obviously you misread or misinterpreted something - I never said the stars were "evil" - I said creepy, which is not the same. Frankly, I don't care enough about the meaning behind the stars to research the origins - I simply don't like them, and isn't that my prerogative? Final word on this tiresome subject.

Yard Police said...

Not liking them is your prerogative, as is drawing analogies between the people who display them and Jim Jones. I merely thought that your protracted "wondering" and professed unease about them could be mollified.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum