Grass in the Mist is a compilation of actual footage taken by nature enthusiast Skippy Leadwell on his voyage to the African savanna to study the complex social patterns of East African grass. Compiled and produced by Semi-National Films.
Daybreak. A camera wobbles, pointing towards a field of tall grass that's blowing in the wind. A man, coated with mud, walks in front of the camera and pulls an eight foot leech out of his leg before looking up at the camera.
NARRATOR: This is Skippy Leadwell, perhaps the most influential and devoted naturalist the world has ever known. Here, we will be chronicling his time in the wilderness through his own eyes, and will also hear what his old friends thought of him. But now, let's see what Mr. Leadwell had to say when he first arrived at the African Savanna.
SKIPPY: Well here I am! I've finally arrived in this African wilderness, and am SO damn excited to finally be here, so I can begin my study of the social patterns of grass.
He steps back and points to a patch of grass about 50 feet behind him
SKIPPY: That is the herd I have chosen to study. I'm really going to have to take my time with them, because wild grass can be incredibly skiddish. I plan to sit out here without moving for at least a week, maybe a week and a half to stay on the safe side. Then and only then can I hope that they'll accept me as one of their own.
He sits down in the mud and starts watching the grass through binoculars.
SKIPPY: Oh yeah, I can see the alpha-male already. (points at the tallest blade of grass) Yes, he's definitely the oldest and wisest of all the males in this colony. Probably at the top of the pecking order. Think I'll call him Humphrey. Hello, Humphrey! Wow, you're a big guy, aren't ya! Yes! Yes you are! (turning back towards camera) So, if I'm to get accepted into this colony, and live among them as one of their own, I'll have to work very gradually. Hopefully, if I sit here long enough, they'll become accustomed to my presence and permit me to approach them, maybe even to touch them. God, I'm so excited. As a personal health note, these African diseases I refused to vaccinate myself against aren't affecting me in the least (he throws up violently).
NARRATOR: How did Skippy come to be so fascinated with grass, you might ask? Well I was wondering the same thing. So let's take a look at my completely and totally unscripted interview with Skippy's Mother, Gertrude.
GERTRUDE sits on a couch, looking nervous.
NARRATOR: So Gertrude, when did your son start getting interested in grass?
GERTRUDE: The little tyke loved grass, even when he was a baby! We gave him a toy piece of grass to play with, and he loved it like a brother. Soon, he started watching the grass in our backyard for hours on end, just staring out the window at it. He started naming the blades, all 78,000 of them. He studied them all, and wrote a report on their social interactions for high school. But he didn't care about school too much, he'd rather spend a week sitting in our backyard, watching a blade of grass. Yes, right from the start he was enchanted by grass.
NARRATOR: I see. Now, some of the footage we'll be showing later on in this film indicates that your son may have been a tad...uh...unstable. No offense intended, Gertrude, but uh....was he?
GERTRUDE: Oh definitely, even as a baby. The first thing he ever did after he was born was try and strangle the nurse with his umbilical cord because she didn't recycle her rubber gloves.
NARRATOR: He tried to strangle her with his umbilical cord? That's dreadful!
GERTRUDE: It actually made us a truckload of money on America's Funniest Home Videos.
NARRATOR: Let's take a look at some more footage of Skippy's time in the wilderness. The reason he took this footage is not known, all we know is that he videotaped himself doing everything, even sleeping, though we've cut out that footage for the sake of time.
Dawn. Skippy is sitting in the mud, watching the grass through his binoculars. He is coated with leeches, but doesn't seem to care. He turns around to face the camera.
SKIPPY: Well, this is my second week of observing the grass from afar, and now I think they're growing less and less scared of me by the day. I think today's the big day: the day I finally approach the grass, I think they're ready. They've grown accustomed to my presence. Oh, God, I'm so tense! This could be the longest I've gone without grass...without being near grass, that is...since I was a little kid and grass first caught my eye!
He points at the leeches that are all over his face.
SKIPPY: These are my little buddies. I named them Spot, Cuddles, Fluffy, Fuzzy, and Sweetums. They love me very much, and I love them. Just look at them giving me kisses!
He pulls one off of his cheek with a slurp
SKIPPY: Oh, yes Fluffy, you love your daddy very much don't you? (He kisses it enthusiastically before planting it very firmly on his nose.) Yes, he loves me very, very much. Now, it's time that I approach the grass, and see if they'll accept me as one of their own!
He pulls out some green paint and pours it all over himself
SKIPPY: Making myself look like a blade of grass is one sure-fire way to get them to accept me as one of their own!!!
He lies down on the ground, and begins crawling very slowly towards the grass. Every two feet or so, he stops. He carries the camera with him.
SKIPPY: (whispering) Well, I seem not to have triggered any anxiety or fear in the herd just yet, but then again I am fairly far away. But I'd say that they seem not to be afraid of me, or at least not yet.
He crawls on, in silence. Soon, he's about five feet away from the patch of grass.
SKIPPY: Oh, my God!!! This is so damn exciting! To think that I've been given the honor, the unbelievably mighty honor of coming within 5 feet of a patch of wild grass...I feel like I'm in on the ground floor of the scientific breakthrough of the century! (A live dinosaur walks up behind him, and sniffs his boot, then walks away. He doesn't notice.) Oh, the exhilaration of being so close to wild grass! The incomparable thrill! I think I'm getting aroused! Oh, my heart is pounding! I feel light-headed! (He passes out)
The camera wobbles as Skippy balances it on a rock. It finally steadies itself, and Skippy runs out into the middle of the grass field. He has a long, scraggly beard, with a bird's nest inside. A very old and fat leech dangles from his chin.
SKIPPY: Well, it's been four months since I first approached the grass, and I think they're really, really starting to accept me as one of their own now. It took me a while to win the trust of the leader of the pack, Humphrey (he points to a particularly tall blade of grass), but now I believe I am completely trusted by each and every blade of grass here.
A vulture lands on his shoulder and starts taking bites out of his ear
SKIPPY: Oh, hello Betty! (To camera) This is my friend Betty. She loves me very much, and I love her. She loves me so much, she gives my ear kisses all the time! (He tries to pet her. She bites off his finger and flies off with it)
SKIPPY: (Watching her go) What a sweetheart. Anyway, I've named each and every blade of grass here. Some of my favorites are Leviticus, Nancy, Bartimus, and Louise, to name just a few. You might wonder how I figure out whether a blade of grass is male or female, which is a very good question. I use a highly scientific process referred to as "flipping a coin," which is my preferred technique in identifying the sex of a blade of grass.
He pulls out a notebook
SKIPPY: (As he messes around with the notebook) I've been out here for four months now. I eat mud to keep myself nourished, trying to reflect the way grass digests food. The more time I spend with grass, the more enlightened I feel. God, I love grass! And I've had no problems with eating mud day in and day out...when I first came here, my travel agent told me this place has all sorts of parasites living in the soil. A downright lie, of course. I've been eating the soil for four months now, and I haven't noticed any parasites! (A 35-inch worm crawls out of one of his nostrils).
He gazes admiringly into his sketchbook
SKIPPY: I've done detailed drawings of about half the blades of grass in this field, along with their names and notes on their personalities. It's been loads of fun. I ran out of ink weeks ago, so now I use blood (He pulls out a needle)
The screen fades to black
NARRATOR: And so, the years went by. As they did, Skippy attempted more and more to emulate the behavior of the grass, by standing still in a completely upright position for hour after hour after hour. We won't show you all of this footage, because it's frankly boring as hell.
Five years have passed. The grass is all much longer. Skippy's beard has reached his ankles. He is covered in green paint, and a lion is walking away with one of his arms.
SKIPPY: Well, here I am. My study has become much more in depth as I discover more complexities about grass every single day. Take these two for instance (pointing at two small blades of grass that are tilted across each other). These two youths are forming bonds that will become crucial in adulthood. And--OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A blade of grass is on its side, dead.
SKIPPY: (Sobbing hysterically) NO!!! Oh, not Petunia!!! She was one of my favorites!!! WHYYYYYYYYY?????????????????
He gently carries the blade of grass away from the field. He puts it down next to him and covers it with a handkerchief as he pulls a shovel from his backpack and starts digging a grave.
NARRATOR: He spent two days digging the grave, relocating it several times to make sure Petunia would be buried in a suitable place. He spent the next half a year carving her a gravestone. After that was complete, he went back to his study of grass. For 11 more years, Leadwell lived in the grass in total solitude. Then, something happened that would shock Mr. Leadwell...(Dramatic music ensues)
Skippy is singing a lullaby to a small piece of grass, when he hears a motor running.
SKIPPY: What the FUCK is that?
A man walks out of a nearby bush, pushing a lawnmower.
SKIPPY: Who are you and what are you doing here?
MAN: I work for the resort hotel that's about twenty feet away from here. I'm here to cut the grass. We've been pretty lax about beatifying the hotel lately, but we really need to catch up with keeping our garden in tact. Who are you?
SKIPPY is too horrified to answer, he just stands there, either crying or drooling (the film is too grainy to tell which). He finally works up the nerve to speak
SKIPPY: You must not harm my brethren!!!!
Skippy pulls a knife from his pocket, and runs at the man, who runs away, screaming. Skippy kicks the lawnmower repeatedly, then smashes it and eats it.
NARRATOR: Thus began Skippy's crusade to defend the grass from human harm.
The next morning. The field of grass has been completely surrounded by a twelve foot high barbed wire fence. Skippy stands inside, looking immensely pleased with himself. He holds a large gun in his left hand.
SKIPPY: I'd like to see that fucking hotel guy get in here now!!! HA HA HA HA!!!! Don't worry, Pete! No need to fear, Larry! I'm here to protect you guys from the mean people, don't you fret! (To camera) Well, here I am. Protecting my fellow grass blades from the horrors beyond my fence. I would have moved Petunia's grave in here, but I didn't have the time, after all, the fucking hotel guys will probably send the fucking African army after me now. But I have no reason to fear! I must protect nature!
A butterfly flies over the fence. Skippy looks at it accusingly, then shoots it.
NARRATOR: Mr. Leadwell went on to make a very long rant, in which he criticizes the National Park Service, the U.S. Government, the African government, and the United States Stamp Collecting Agency of plotting against him. After that, he stayed in his barbed wire fence for two weeks, shooting at anyone who came too close. What follows is the last footage ever taken of him before his mysterious murder.
Skippy points the camera at himself
SKIPPY: Hmm...I have to take a crap.
He pulls down his pants, and poops in the mud. He grabs a squirrel, and wipes his anus with it. Then he turns off the camera.
NARRATOR: I'm here at this morgue to interview a coroner about the circumstances of Skippy Leadwell's death.
The coroner walks into the room, naked.
CORONER: (Pressing his face against the camera lense) I suppose you want to hear about Leadwell, huh?
CORONER: Well, his death was mysterious because the cause is still unknown, though it may have had something to do with the bullets. Who did it is a mystery, though the bullets did have the phrase "Handed out for free at the Holiday Inn, Mgumbay, Africa" on them. Scientists are analyzing this phrase for coded messages as we speak. It was also unusual because of the toilet seat that was stapled to his head.
NARRATOR: Toilet seat?
CORONER: Yes, a toilet seat. With a Chinese proverb written on it in red crayon.
NARRATOR: What proverb?
CORONER: According to Babelfish, it can be translated as "Young cheese did never banana banana poultry."
NARRATOR: Hmmm...what condition was his body in? Did it seem like he'd been dead for a long time?
CORONER: (itching his balls absentmindedly) Well, Leadwell's body was in decent shape, though there were quite a lot of small parasites living inside it. Thankfully, his cute little ass was in perfect shape.
NARRATOR: Really? Can I see?
CORONER: Certainly. He's in the other room, next to the soda machine.
The narrator and the coroner walk out of the room, holding hands.