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Friday, May 27, 2011

Product Review: Outdoor Fireplace Lawn Ornament

In memory (and celebration) of the destruction and disposal of our outdoor fireplace lawn ornament, I’ve decided to write a review of one of the most useless products on the market.

We’d been looking for an outdoor fireplace for a while and immediately fell in love with the look and price of this one. We brought it home, presented it with its own throne in the corner of the patio where it could reign forever as the majestic focal point of the yard. It fit perfectly. Then everything went sour.

It’s not that it was ugly. It was actually very classy and beautiful. It was a nice addition to our patio and artfully hid the weeds in the flower bed behind it.

It’s not that it was expensive. We actually got a great deal on it. It was on clearance in the lawn and garden department. Now we know why.

The problem is…it wasn’t supposed to be a lawn ornament. Yet, that’s essentially what we got. A giant, attractive, useless lawn ornament.

What we bought, without knowing it, was an outdoor fireplace that really couldn’t handle burning anything or be exposed to the elements. Yes, that’s right. The directions clearly stated that after each use we were supposed to lug our 200lb stone fireplace into a shed or garage because it could not be exposed to rain, snow, or cold air. Right. Like that was going to happen.

For a while we tried to compromise with the thing and wrestled with a hideous blue tarp to protect its sensitive little façade from the nasty-wasty wain. In a little over half an hour we could have the sleek faux stone successfully hidden beneath a cheap plastic liner and packaging twine. Now, instead of gazing out the window at a backyard park oasis, we locked eyes on a slightly unsettling blue monstrosity that bore just a little too close of a resemblance to a giant body bag. The effort involved with the tarp, however, was too much, and eventually the blue mound just became a permanent fixture in our yard.

Every so often we’d take the plunge and try to use it, mostly out of guilt. This mistake exposed major problem number two: the basic design. Instead of having a single chimney to exhaust the smoke out the top and away from people, this brilliant piece of equipment had an identical front and back opening – perfect for a face full of smoke regardless of where you sat and which direction the wind blew. At least everyone on the patio was equally miserable. We were always reminded once again why we hated it and put the tarp back on indefinitely.

Finally about a year ago we decided since it was completely useless as a fireplace, but looked nice, we might as well embrace it as the lawn ornament that it was. Thus, we removed the tarp once and for all and enjoyed many evenings of gazing at it in adoration and dreaming of what could have been.

As the seasons passed, and our fancy faux stones were exposed to the natural elements that any piece of patio furniture should be able to endure, it began to chip and fray as promised in the instruction manual. It provided a nice mansion for the local rodents and still did an admirable job of disguising the weeds.

Then, one day, it wore down to the point where it no longer passed as an ornament. It had lost one too many bricks and the rusted metal begged for a toxic encounter with our preschooler. It was time.

The expensive, heavy, cumbersome, useless lawn ornament made its way to the curb on trash night and we said goodbye. There is now a bare, desolate corner of our patio framed only by a messy, but functional, mint patch.

Yet, I am strangely relieved more than anything, knowing that our sad, delicate fireplace is no longer suffering in the harsh outdoors, struggling daily to be something it wasn’t. May it find peace and happiness in the next phase of its life which is hopefully in a capacity that’s more true to its nature than a fireplace. A scented candle showcase maybe?

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