Debating with Pesticide-Spraying Peers
Note to self: Leading an eco-life may make me an easy brunt of jokes at parties and if I am invited to a high school reunion, I need to try and stay quiet and blend in. Drink a can of regular beer and look chill eating some non-organic chips. Try to make small talk...ask everyone innocuous questions like how have the last 25 years been treating them, etc., etc. Behave, Wendy…
Then, inevitably, yet when I am least expecting it…
“Wendy… I hear you are ‘into’ the environment.” Gesticulates with air-quotes
“What??! How did you hear that?” Feigns shock…puts down beer
“I read some of your letters to the editors a couple of years back.”
“Oh those...yeah, that was a…a phase.” Keep it cool Wendy—don't draw attention
“You were trying to change the by-law on pesticide use or something.”
“Oh…that…Yes. Right.” Busted
“Then you may not want to know that I keep the garden stores in business with my regular purchase and spraying of lawn pesticides.” As I'm walking barefoot on said property
I have been baited. Eye roll. Shrug. Sigh. Here. We. Go.
A familiar feeling rises from my feet into my chest and the dandelion roots begin screaming under my feet as a protective instinct runs through my body. I take a breath, close my eyes, clench my fists, and Mother Earth is invoked. We’re a super-hero league. It’s on.
I helpfully suggest, “Why not just weed by hand? Or grow cover crops instead of leaving bare spots in your garden?”
Laughing devilishly, the evil instigator replies, “Why do the work yourself when you can have chemicals do it for you?”
Appealing to the father in him, I plead, “What about your children? Or your puppy?” Perhaps this will melt his stone cold, pesticide-loving heart.
This sparks the lighting round:
“I spray early in the morning and wait 24 hours until I let them on the grass.”
“Where do you think it goes?”
“The instructions on the bottle say it’s safe.”
He leads me into the garage where an arsenal of chemicals is displayed and snickers, “See? The two large bottles tell me I don’t have to worry and I can sit and relax and drink beer instead.”
Wondering briefly if the label actually advises the user to drink beer, I dismiss it as preposterous and look around, nodding to the flowers and trees also silently screaming for help. We got this, I tell them telepathically.
“Wow. You sure are lazy. Why not get in touch with your land? Feel the soil? Care for your property instead of just standing there spraying stinky toxic crap?”
Looking at my bare feet, he snickers, “Yep. I'm lazy and proud of it, tree hugger granola.”
Countering the evil with fact, I offer, “Did you know that my neighbour’s dog died of cancer from those chemicals?”
“Whatever. That's just granola propaganda to get more people to buy hemp clothing, support the organic food industry—which is all crap by the way—quit their jobs, not contribute to the economy, and dance around with bare feet in the forest, hugging trees.” Curses!
“Are you really that bitter at people who actually consider the earth to be something more than a dumping ground for human laziness? I have the scientific research if you want it. That's if you can read...” Ok, too far, but we couldn't lose this one…
“No thanks. I don't need any of your hippie crap,” he laughs again, and beckons to the rest of the reunion crowd to try to gather reinforcements. Hmm…maybe he’s a little intimidated after all
“Hey guess what, everyone? Do you ever wonder why you can't buy pesticides anymore in our city and you have to drive 45 minutes to get them?” The minions nod in unison…grumbling ensues
“Yes…I heard the city banned them.”
“Guess why? Wendy, here, went to city council with all her granola friends and lobbied for it!” Hang in there, Mother Earth! We will not surrender!
One genuinely interested soul asks, “Really? Why did you do that?” A soapbox opening that I need to negotiate carefully
“Because we didn't think cosmetic pesticides were necessary. Our waterways were being contaminated as were our playgrounds and children. They presented a health risk we didn't think anyone needed for the sake of a well-manicured yard.” Pow!! Information unleashed!
“Plus dandelions and other weeds are beautiful AND useful!” I look for a dandelion to eat, but obviously no survivors remain after the chemical slaughter. And now it’s MY turn to do the baiting…
“Useful for what? C'mon...”
At that moment I wished I had brought my sidekick: a box of dandelion tea. “Did you know that dandelion root tea is an aphrodisiac? And who wouldn't like to have easily accessible aphrodisiacs growing freely in our neighbourhoods? I asked city council the same question and they went for it!!” A tie-in to sex…the ace up my sleeve
A subtle chuckle goes through the gang followed by a pensive quiet. Good…I can still bring a little humour to an event. But sometimes “we” just don't know when to stop…
“It was really neat to make a meaningful change in our city. I never learned how to go about it in school so it was quite a learning process, but the chance to be heard and make a difference was the experience of a lifetime. I also wanted my children to know that they have a voice in their community and how to get it heard. Obviously, you won’t always achieve the results you want, but if you are passionate enough, it is definitely worth the effort!” Too far! Too far!
A party-pooper lull falls over the crowd and once again I realize why I never get invited.
“Wow, Wendy. You sure know how to kill a party vibe.”
“Thanks! You want to me weed your garden for you next time?”
“Not a chance. I love my sprayer! Keep your granola hands out of my dirt!” Sigh
But a sly smile emerged on my face. The secret weapons of the earth had been unleashed on this unsuspecting crowd and now it was time to wait for the results. Reading their minds, I could hear them wondering, “Dandelions? Could it be true?” I had faith that at least one would not be able to resist the temptation and would be converted. The dandelion aphrodisiac always wins the day.
Never a dull moment when you have superpowers.