Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Victory lap in Mow-town
My wife approached with the same look of grave concern she bore when she told me the 18-year-old cat I couldn’t stand was about to die.
“I have bad news about the new garage door,” she said. “Actually, it’s double bad news. Which do you want to hear first? The bad news or the worse news?”
Like the impending 2008 death of Buster, the foul-breathed, weak-kidneyed cat I’d stopped caring about in 2002, I knew nothing she could tell me was going to ruin my day. We’d already dipped into the savings for the $1,100 and gave it to a reputable local guy. If there was a problem, I knew it was his problem, not mine.
I feigned fragile distress.
“Oh, no,” I moaned. “I’m not sure I can take any more bad news. Start with the lesser of two evils.”
“Well, the manufacturer shipped him the wrong parts. He didn’t realize it until he’d installed it. Now, we won’t be able to open it for two weeks.”
Of course, I was right. Summer’s in the air. The one-car garage won’t be needed to shield either of our vehicles from harsh blizzards. So this wasn’t bad news. It was barely inconvenient news.
I let my face fall into my hands and began shaking my head like someone told me a minty-smelling cat I really, really cared for was about to die.
“What could possibly be worse news than that?” I wailed.
“The lawn mower’s still in there. You won’t be able to cut the grass for two weeks.”
I love this woman. She’s a great wife and mother. So it would have been unfair for me to jump out of my big easy chair and start cart wheeling around the living room while singing “Celebration!” the 1980 cheesy wedding staple by funksters Kool & The Gang.
So I stood up and strode zombie-like to the door. “I’m going to the bar,” I said. “I need a drink.”
I dashed straight to The Pond, pulled open the door and yelled a triumphant, “I win!”
I know I can’t say this without sounding like the world’s worst father, but the euphoria I felt at that moment differed little from the two times I walked through that same door and told those same men, “It’s a girl!”
Every year, we have an informal pool to see who can go the longest without having to start mowing his lawn.
This is the time of the year all our lawns seem like they’re on steroids. Mow them once and we’re bound to be mowing them every five days. I know some men who are now mowing their lawns every three days.
That used to be me at our old house where we lived for 15 happy years. I loved that little house and was peacock proud the day we paid it off. But I knew in my heart that I didn’t own that house. It owned me.
It was in a traditional neighborhood with finicky neighbors slammed right up against our fenceless borders. That meant that if my anal retentive neighbor felt duty bound to cut his grass every four days or so, then I’d have to keep up the pace or the boundary would look like the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. One side would be order and neatness while the other would be a shaggy sort of squalor.
It took about 90 minutes of grueling labor to push the old mower around all the trees, shrubs and week-old beer bottles I liked to leave around to give the place atmosphere.
Now, our new home is up a mountain deep in the lovely woods. Maybe a car an hour goes past at 50 mph. The shade from the trees stunts the scraggy patches of grass, as does the much higher elevation
So I’m now a strong contender for the last man to mow title. This puts me in a confrontational role with my buddy Paul who lives in similarly remote homestead. He goes so long into spring without mowing that his wife has lost dogs and small children in the deep, thick shag.
He was distraught when I told him my John Deere LA100 had become a ship in a bottle. He’d been confident he’d win and began griping I was cheating, it was unfair, blah, blah, blah.
Then he straightened up on his bar stool, got a glint in his eye and said he was going to try and hold out. He was serious, too.
It’s game on.
Of course, our wives think it’s ridiculous. They lament that if the men they’d married put as much thought and exertion into doing work as we do into getting out of work, they’d be married to titans of industry.
But we don’t care.
It’s just another boredom buster that gives us something about which to yap. Beats watching grass grow.