Casing your neighborhood, we couldn’t help noticing your front yard has a raised septic field the size of an aircraft carrier.
Land, ho! Or should I say, “Congratulations!”
Did you know there’s a group of people just like you who, due to state health regulations and zoning constraints, share similarly protuberant septic fields and therefore hate their homes, their yards, the outdoors, and their entire lives as a result? Did you know these people care about you?
We call ourselves the Alliance of Homeowners Who Are Bummed Out About Their Seriously Unsightly Septic Fields, or AHWABOATSUSF.
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. Founder of AHWABOATSUSF, I grew up in simpler times when no one considered how fecal matter was poisoning the water table and how, through capillary action, seeping up into our Nerf balls.
Back then, one simply flushed the toilet and then its contents were ushered out of sight and out of mind by a quick burst of Class 5 rapids. You’d then wash your hands, step back outside on the front lawn, maybe rub your belly and see if anyone wanted to play a little badminton. Never once did we consider that we stood upon a subterranean stew of stink, the final resting place of bodily discharges and dirty dishwater. Ick! (Good thing we didn’t know that or we would’ve ignored Mom and played ball in the house. Ha!)
But then I grew up, became wiser, a little scruffier, and disproportionately despondent. That’s because after my wife and I bought ourselves a little fixer-upper on a quarter-acre lot in a leafy neighborhood, we got ourselves a visit from the health inspector who pasted a yellow notice on our front door that read “CONDERMED.” (There was a typo.)
“But I … you know … I ‘take care of business’ at work during coffee break,” I pleaded with him. And my wife chimed in, “And there are two Dunkin’ Donuts within walking distance from here. I can imagine us just sneaking in one of those whenever we have to … to … you know … go.”
“And actually,” I said, “we don’t really even shower a whole lot. We like to use baby wipes.”
Needless to say, a contentious perc test and 20 grand later, we had ourselves an assemblage of pipes and risers embalmed beneath a carpet of fluorescent-green. To neighborhood onlookers, our new hard-edged hillock advertised: “We, the Carrolls, poop — big time. So there!”
Well, you know the saying: When life hands you lemons, do a drive-by and throw them at the town hall.
Once the backhoe pulled off the property, Gretchen and I stood hand in hand on the front lawn. We smiled at each other sadly, then we stared at our new septic field sadly, and then we walked inside our home and pulled down the shades. We were both constipated for three weeks.
But then one morning my wife — who has a true servant’s heart — woke up and spoke seven words that changed the world: “Above-ground septic-field-owner support group.” Now here we are, leaders of AHWABOATSUSF, 220 members strong and growing! What does it mean to be a member of AHWABOATSUSF? It means never having to say, “Oh, Honey, look at that stupid thing out on the lawn. Good grief. How much did that stupid thing cost again?”
In addition to our 24-hour grief-counseling hotline, we hold workshops, take bus trips, and form lasting friendships. Just last month, two dozen of us visited the historic Appalachia Outhouse Trail and came away holding our noses and counting our blessings. In our most recent monthly newsletter, handyman Jerry McGraff encouraged us to consider the strategic placement of wishing wells to hide those insidious gooseneck septic ventilation pipes. “Hey, it’s your life,” he wrote. “I don’t care what you do. I’m just saying —”
We typically invite speakers to come to our quarterly meetings. In January, Master Gardener Joyce Belcher gave an inspirational presentation titled, “Vegetable Gardening on Raised Septic Fields: Should I? Dare Me To? How Much Will You Give Me If I Do?”
We hold roundtables with area artists who can answer such questions as “Is there such thing as trompe l'oeil landscaping that could make an ugly septic field look like an aboveground swimming pool?” (Answer: yes and no.)
Feng shui expert Dora Windchime has visited us more than once to share all sorts of good tips about energy flow and the interplay between septic fields and cellophane unicorns or Mandarin ducks or some such thing.
We write letters to public officials urging support for a bill that would provide homeowners with a free pallet of vinca vine for every foot their septic field rises above sea level.
Perhaps most importantly, we perform outreach to homeowners like you who may not be aware of how unsightly their above-ground septic fields are. Then we try to assuage their anxiety by informing them they are not alone.
Or should I say “a-sewage" their anxiety. Ha-ha! See, we have a good time. Join us, won’t you.