11 January 2008


One summer, sometime in the early 1970s, when I rented a farmhouse from Farmer Young, out a few miles from Lexington, Kentucky, deep in the Bluegrass region, I went out West for a few weeks and let my younger brother Joseph live there free, out of the grace of my heart. That proved to be a mistake.

Brother Joseph, who was five-sixths the size of my farmhouse bathroom, decides that using indoor toilet facilities was a bit inconvenient, since he needed to enter sideways and in consideration that he is not the most fastidious person when it comes to cleaning domiciliary interiors. He thinks that a good solution would be to urinate off the front porch, always mindful, of course, of Farmer Young, whose house was a bit more off the narrow county road and up the hill; and watchful of cars coming down the hill in that direction and cars coming around a curve in the other. Somehow, though, Brother Joseph, being the athlete with good sense of timing and mindful of the tempo of traffic on DeLong Road, manages the application of concentrated nitrogen to my turf and prized flowers directly off the front porch. He evidently was also trying to set new records for human urination distance, as my stout bluegrass turf was thoroughly withered a distance of 11 feet from the front porch. Brother Joseph assures me he never walked out to the yard for the liquid fertilizer applications. His thoughtful explanation was why walk an inconvenient few feet, when you can gain a better vantage from a height to watch the golden parabola.

It must have been great fun. Never mind that the boards at the base of the house showed advanced urinary rotting; never mind that visitors complained of burning nostrils from ammonia fumes when walking down the stone paving near the front porch; never mind that half my yard was prematurely yellowed.

Yes, a great life lesson was learned and I will now always be cautious. One never knows when a relative will turn out to be a killer, both herbicidal and maniacally ammoniacal.

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