My Uncle Sam’s Back Yard

Note: Originally published Friday October 27, 2006 on an old defunct project.

This is the story of a border, 2,100 miles in length; a story that is rich in historical significance; a story that is rich in cultural implications; or rather, a story that is about as ridiculous as my opening.

The Yard

Look, Uncle Sam, I love you—no, no, don’t say that, I really do. I didn’t want to be the one to have to tell you the obvious, but you see, you have a problem. Yeah, it turns out your neighbors have kind of been walking into your yard and using your pool and grill, and I guess they’ve been walking in your house and actually cooking your food on that grill, too.

I know, you know, but, uh, they’re kind of trespassing, which I think is illegal in this county. Punishable by deportation to the next county; yeah, it’s pretty serious stuff.

Oh, you have a plan to remedy the situation? Well, that’s great. Oh, and you’ve run it by the missus and she’s ok with it? Even better! So what is it?

Ah, you’re putting up a fence, you sly devil. What kind of fence, like a really tall one, with barbed wire, or…? Oh, I see, you’re putting up a chain-link fence, and its only covering how much of your yard space? One third?

Look, Sam—can I call you Sam— I’m not sure that a short chain-link fence covering a third of your yard is really going to stop your neighbors from getting in. Oh, we’re only talking about one third of the back line of your yard…look buddy that might be worse. You’re probably only going to slow your neighbors down a little, because all they have to do is walk twenty feet to their east and they’re right back in your yard doing the same thing as before. And it looks like, uh, your wife isn’t going to allocate any extra money to the project, so how are you paying for it?

Oh, you want your friends to think you’re tough on these illegal trespassers; yeah, I guess you look that way. But, don’t you think that you’re offending your closest neighbor in the back by only putting up a fence on the side that he touches?

Yeah, I understand you’ve also got to be tough on those neighborhood terrors, the darn kids; always plotting ways to get into your yard so they can vandalize your house. I remember when they took down your tall oak with a chainsaw—unbelievable, especially how they did it from the top down. Kids are inventive, aren’t they? But they haven’t really bugged you since then. Since you bought the house of, well, what you thought was one of the ring leaders. I guess he really wasn’t though, was he? But you wanted that 1.2 acre plot of rich land anyway, so it all worked out.

But, really, if you want to keep things under control at home, a longer fence might help, or a couple more dogs; something to patrol the yard a little. It might scare people off a bit.

And really, you’ve got to stop leaving the garage doors open, and your house doors unlocked, it really sends the wrong message.