Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yard Sign

"Who doesn't love a free yard sign?" the email wanted to know.  

I don't love yard signs. It never occurred to me that yard signs were lovable.  If the yard sign is for a yard sale, I'm interested, but hardly in love. 

When I grew up, the only yard signs I saw were crosses burned into lawns, and those are fairly unlovable symbols of hate. Where I grew up, near the alphabet agencies, people didn't advertise their affiliations for fear of losing employment opportunities. We handed over cash rather than write checks to political parties, we quietly marched off and voted on the appropriate days, and rarely discussed national politics in groups of more than three. "Who doesn't love a free yard sign" tells me more about the age of the writer than it does about the candidate they want me to volunteer to help.

Some yards are veritable thickets of names, supporting every candidate from president to city council. Some yards sport a new biblical quotation each week. Some advertise niche festivals, love for a specific breed of dog, the fact that a child has graduated from high school, joined the Marines or has a birthday. Every contractor who works on a house, from roofing to installing vinyl flooring, wants to put out a yard sign. Houses for sale have additional yard signs proclaiming open houses on Sundays. What this really means is that traffic will be very slow because cars will line both sides of the street, which is not really able to accommodate 3 lanes.

Yard signs are like Facebook. People can't take time for personal interaction, so they put up yard signs, some of which are 6 feet tall and have guy wires on each side.  They're like small scale billboards, and they stay up for MONTHS. You know the ones, they're printed in red on screaming yellow plastic and they have streamers at first, until ripped of by the wind or children.

The wire frame from the yard sign has its uses. Several of them support chicken wire to protect a garden from grabby pests. A single one supports bloom-heavy flowering plants. When imagination fails, the frames can go in the recycling bin.