The weeder

I have weeded my way five times across the United States. Obviously, I am a compulsive weeder. Or impulsive. I weed the instant I spot a weed that shouldn't be where it is.

There is an abundance of such misplaced weeds in every state from California to New York. I find them in planters in front of otherwise attractive restaurants. In well-tended borders along city streets. Beside shady paths through state and national historical parks and sites. At the entrance to theaters. In shopping malls and housing complexes. I can spot a dandelion in a petunia patch at 100 feet. Before I know it, there I am with a satisfied grin on my face and a wayward weed in my hand.

If there are other impulsive weeders out there, and there must be, they know the feeling I get when I walk up to the hostess at the Hilton and hand her a clump of limp weeds.

''Where did you get these?'' the hostess gasps.

''By your front entrance.''

''Our front entrance?''

The hostess simmers down when I tell her that the weeds were hiding behind the flowering zinnias.

My husband does not simmer down so readily. He ignores me and my habit as much as he can. He always walks into a restaurant and waits inconspicuously in the foyer while I am up front doing my weed duty. He pretends we are strangers when I put one foot in the planter box at the bank where he has gone to make a deposit and I come up with a withdrawal. He cringes when we go to an elegant gala and I end up with dirt under my fignernails because I manicured the flower box by the ticket booth.

To people like me the whole world is a garden waiting to be relieved of its weeds. Property rights are nonexistent as far as my weeding goes. And it goes rather far. I figure if I see it, it is my weed, and I have the right to pull it. A weed in time saves making a big job of it.

So watch for me the next time you go to town. I am the neat lady in the white pantsuit attacking the patch of weeds in the parking lot. Or at the drive-in. Or by the community center.

Or . . . ?

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