Published 6:10 pm Friday, April 18, 2008
Slacker columnist runs out of excuses
Manages 900 words about mowing his lawn
I had to admit my wife was right. Our yard had become overgrown and overpopulated. It’s amazing how quickly nature can stake a claim to our one-third acre homestead. Weeds, vines and critters of all sorts created a self-contained mini- ecosystem. Since I last mowed the lawn in October, the Amazon jungle had replicated and new species had evolved. We even had our own weather patterns.
Our lawn had become as treacherous as a Wal-Mart parking lot. “Where’s the machete, Sweet Cheeks?” I hollered to my wife. “I had to use it yesterday to clear a path to the car,” she replied. “I think it’s leaning against the banana tree beside the termite mound.”
Exhausted from hollering, I decided to take an easier path to my tool shed, now obscured by overgrowth and the foggy drizzle of the rainforest. I grabbed the nearest vine and swung Tarzan-style to the roof of the shed, landing on all fours in my faux* leopard skin loincloth.
I opened the shed doors from above to avoid attack from the feral cat colony that had settled in. After they scattered, I began excavation for the lawn mower and found it under golf clubs, empty boxes, garden tools, beach toys, lawn chairs and a couple of bikes. After I reorganized the shed into new piles of randomly placed stuff, I searched desperately for excuses to get out of yard work.
You see, I don’t enjoy the labors of maintaining a nice lawn. I don’t care if we have the greenest grass in the neighborhood, or even if we adhere to established health codes. The “Yard of the Month” ain’t in my future. I don’t feel the pride of satisfaction in seeing a job well done or the feeling of accomplishment that comes by wiping sweat off the brow. After working in the yard, I usually just feel tired and sore. It often means I have to take a shower afterward — on a Saturday, no less. There ought to be a law.
My Craftsman 6.25 horsepower mower probably didn’t win any design/engineering awards. It is the most basic, cheapest lawn mower I could find. I go through lawn mowers like most people do toothbrushes. Apparently, the “care and maintenance of your new Craftsman mower” propaganda should be read after purchase. I glimpsed something about “oil and filter changing” (who knew?) as I tossed the documents into one of my shed’s “storage” piles.
I fear I may have given you the wrong impression of me. I am not lazy. I just don’t like expending energy, unnecessarily. There’s a difference. (Trust me.) I had every intention of doing my chores if the lawn mower would start. My fingers were crossed hoping it wouldn’t. (By the way, I don’t recommend pulling the starter cord with your fingers crossed. Painful.)
I pushed the little gas primer button a couple of times and tugged fiercely on the rope-a-dope cord with little more than a sputter coming from the infernal beast. “Cool,” I thought. “Let me just tug a few more times so the old lady will think I really tried to get it started,” I whispered to myself. Sure enough — on the first pull — the little red Craftsman fired up with a small puff of blue smoke and a humming little engine raring to go.
Now, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m what you call a “man’s man.” That’s right, you heard me, “a man’s man.” It is my belief that riding lawnmowers are for sissies. I don’t care if you have a 10-acre plot of land — you’re a sissy if you mow it with anything you can sit upon. Shoot, I don’t even have a self-propelled PUSH mower. You surely don’t need one with a steering wheel.
I have a ritual before I mow the lawn with my “Ray-propelled” Craftsman: I hold the mower aloft with one arm and exclaim loudly in my best impersonation of Charlton Heston’s famous declaration, “The only time I will use a self-propelled, front-wheel drive mower is when you pry it from my cold dead hands!”
(I realize that makes absolutely no sense, but it IS dramatic.)
Once I begin a project, I pursue it with passion and vigor. A scant six hours after I had begun, I felled the last patch of bamboo in the yard. I was tuckered and covered in sweat, poison ivy and leeches, but I was through. I then discarded the mower in the neighbor’s trash pile and marched straight to my wife for my $5 allowance. It was then she reminded me, “The job isn’t done until you have blown the debris off the driveway and patio.”
Hmm … I thought. Maybe the battery is dead in my leaf blower.
*No animals were harmed in the writing of this column. Photos of McKeithan in the faux leopard skin loincloth can be viewed for $5 at wdnweb.com (we accept all major credit cards). Parental discretion is advised. Do not view on a full stomach.