Today I thought it would be a good idea to discuss foreign affairs. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but it has been difficult to find the time, what with one thing and another, such as the mysterious disappearance of our lawn.

This happened several months ago. It was brought to my attention by Jorge, a sad-eyed man who comes around every two weeks to mow the lawn, which I frankly do not have the time to do myself because of the time pressures involved in keeping up with foreign affairs via a program I have on my personal home computer called "F-15 Strike Eagle," which enables the user to gain many insights into various sensitive world trouble spots, plus points for blowing them up.

I was engaged in an air strike against an important target in Iran when Jorge called me outside to show me something. I hate it when people want to show me something. It's never anything good. Like, when the gas station attendant, checking your oil, calls you over, he never says: "Look what I found sitting on your engine! The Hope Diamond!" No, he says: "You see this little screw here? You see the way it's kind of shiny? That means you need a new car." Once, in Pennsylvania, a man made me look down into my septic tank, after which we had the following true conversation:

Him (shining a flashlight down there): See that?

Me: What?

Him: There's no scum.

Me (trying to look interested, like the kids on the "Mr. Wizard" show when Mr. Wizard shows them that ice is actually frozen water): Huh!

Him: There should be a layer of scum. From people using soap.

Me (defensively): We use soap.

Anyway, it turns out, as you have surely guessed, that if you don't have scum in your septic tank, you have to give this man hundreds of dollars. Which of course you do, because otherwise he might make you look down in there again.

So when Jorge called me outside, I knew it would be something bad. Jorge, who does not speak much English, looked at me with very sad eyes and pointed to the ground. I looked down, and right away I noticed -- in my line of work, you develop an eye for detail -- that there was no lawn. I know for a fact that there was a lawn when we moved in last year, but now there was just dirt and some fire ants, which incidentally are taking over the world, not that I wish to alarm anybody.

"There's no lawn here," I said to Jorge, using a fairly stern tone of voice to let him know he had darned well better have a good explanation.

"No," replied Jorge, this being the Spanish word for "no," and he went back to mowing the ants.

One possible explanation for what happened to our lawn is that we never fed or watered it, plus several hundred dogs are involved in a spirited ongoing competition to see who can wet on it last. But I myself suspect that the culprit is the Vanishing Ozone Layer. This is a popular new crisis that you may have read about. It seems that the Earth's protective ozone layer has gradually been stripped away by agents of Lt. Col. Oliver North, thus permitting deadly ultraviolet solar rays to penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and cause the "colorization" of classic black-and-white movies. No! Hold it! Wrong crisis! I hope I didn't scare you! What I meant to say is, these solar rays are turning the entire planet into a barren lifeless wasteland similar to my lawn.

Fortunately this is not a problem, because you can purchase sod. That's what we did. We called these men, and they came to our house with a truck containing a complete new lawn, Some Assembly Required. I don't know where they got this lawn. For all I know, they went to somebody else's house in the dead of night and stole it. For all I know, we bought our own lawn back. What would have been really great is if they had sold us the lawn belonging to our neighbor, Paul, a genial banker who has a beautiful lawn that he is always out puttering on, spreading ozone, etc. Ever since our lawn disappeared he has been dropping concerned genial hints about how maybe we needed to take some action, yardwise, and I would have truly enjoyed to see the look on his face if he came home from a hard day of banking to find our yard looking like the Augusta National Golf Course, and his looking like the lunar surface. Ha ha!

But this is not a time for lighthearted daydreaming, not with the current state of foreign affairs. Now, more than ever, this is an area of vital concern to all of us, for, in the words of deceased president Woodrow Wilson: "Foreign affairs are the scum on the septic tank of politics." Unfortunately, due to space limitations, we are unable to discuss this important topic in further detail at this time. But if I were you, I'd be worried.