Jeannie Roule was stunned. She took a step back. Standing at her front door the other day to let her dog out, she couldn’t believe what her eyes were not seeing in the front yard: Her 10-foot-long cigarette.
It had been stolen the night before in a brazen yard art theft.
“I personally want to say this was planned,” she said. “You have to make sure you have enough guys. You have to make sure you have a pickup truck.”
That’s because the wooden cigarette, painted to look real, with a Marlboro label around the filter, was in its previous life a telephone pole that weighs 150 pounds.
The cigarette was the pièce de résistance in a Silver Spring yard filled with other notable art works, including a yellow upright ladder, a parking meter, and the red silhouette of a man whose shape looks like it was cut out from an episode of “Mad Men.”
Roule, who works at the FDA, and her husband Trifin love art — the more abstract and quirky, the better. They like art scattered on their front lawn, and they like art scattered around the house. They bought the telephone pole in its original condition in either Kentucky or Wisconsin — Jeannie can’t remember which — and had planned to display it in their house, with wires streaming out, as a commentary on our wireless world.
The plan didn’t work out, mostly because the pole was too heavy for hardwood floors.So one day Trifin said to Jeannie: “You know, we should paint it to look a cigarette.”
And that’s what they did. There was no intended commentary on smoking or tobacco or anything like that.
“We like to make use of found objects,” Jeannie said. “If you think about things for long enough you actually come up with an idea.”
Jeannie insists that some neighbors actually like the yard art, and her post about the crime to a neighborhood e-mail discussion group was met with messages of disdain for the thieves and sympathy for the victims. One reply said: “I love the art in your yard. Thank you for sharing it with us. People are idiots.”
They are also determined. Jeannie and her husband had secured the cigarette onto their lawn with heavy brackets and cement.
“I was afraid of a kid kicking it and having it roll,” Jeannie said. “So we secured it. If you pushed with all your might — which is probably what they did — it would pop from the metal brackets. I’ve kicked it myself. It’s heavy.”
Jeannie intends to report the crime to police . But really, all she wants is the cigarette to come home. It’s special.
“Sometimes I think people don’t get it,” she said. “You don’t have to get it. It’s just there.”
Until it wasn’t.
What’s the strangest item you’ve ever seen in a yard? Tell us in the comments below.