Lawn Care or Mutually Assured Destruction, Part 1

I think we accidentally challenged our lawn to some sort of brutal gladiatorial duel.  We don’t understand any of the rules, but we’re pretty sure that our lawn is winning.

Looking back, the trouble might have started with our voracious mutant cucumbers.  They attacked everything in sight.  Maybe the lawn didn’t enjoy being smothered in vegetable evil–as difficult as that is to imagine–so it undertook a vast and sprawling plot for revenge.

The first salvo was bronchitis.  I don’t know how our lawn could have made both my wife and me sick, but if we’re imagining grass that’s an evil mastermind, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say it has plague-based powers.  It made us sick and kept us sick for more than a month so that it could use the time to grow as though it had been subjected to the same bizarre science-fiction radiation that created Godzilla and basketball players.  By the time we were able to mow again, it was marching on Tokyo with plans to slam dunk.

As a momentary glimmer of hope, my wife is the weird but useful sort of person who enjoys mowing.  Once she was well enough, she charged out into the yard with her characteristic enthusiasm.  What we didn’t realize was that our lawn’s plague powers extended to motors: it had gotten our lawnmower sick as well.  Halfway through the lawn, our lawnmower started making a series of grisly coughing sounds worthy of a heavy smoker who’s drowning in butter.  It did not die peacefully.

That probably had something to do with why it took the repair center more than a month to fix it; they had to clone new parts or some such.  I’ll come back to that later, though.

Having granted itself a reprieve from our attempts to restrain it, our lawn enjoyed another month of wild and reckless living.  Apparently, it grew so much that it counted as a civic danger, which is something about which I really wish I were exaggerating.  The police literally woke us up one morning to reprimand us for not intervening.  (More on that another time.)

Obviously, we tried to be more diligent, and our diligence managed to stave off our lawn’s machinations for a little while.  Unfortunately, our fear of getting arrested married our fear of losing our daughter in giant weeds, and together they begot a new fear: the fear of lawnmower failure.

Thus, at the beginning of last month, when our mower wouldn’t start without immediately stalling, my wife ran frantically to me to recruit my assistance.  As evidence of her terror, she came to me even though I’m the least likely person in the neighborhood to be able to do anything.

We live on a street filled with classically masculine men.  They drive pick-up trucks, have garages full of tools, and repair things for fun while knowledgably discussing machines, sports, and how the government is unbelievable.  I drive a timid little compact car, own four tools–three more than I know how to use effectively–and can sometimes fix grammar mistakes.  I knowledgably discuss baby food, philosophy, and what it feels like to be embarrassed in public.  I know nothing about lawnmowers.  To be completely honest, I don’t even know how to start one.  I know you pull a string, the sort that a lot of dolls have, except that the lawnmower doesn’t say anything pithy.

Nevertheless, I dutifully followed my wife outside to investigate our mower in the hopes that my presence alone would inspire it to function.  For the record, it did not.  My wife tried to start it again and it rumbled to life for a second, but then it stalled.  I looked at it sagely, fiddled with a couple of harmless looking pieces for good measure, and pronounced, “Yup, it’s broken.”

In the silence that followed, our lawn managed to look snarky.

Luckily we must have looked as desperate as we actually were, because the classically masculine men flocked to help us.  One man brought tools; another man brought some sort of super-powered engine chemicals; another man brought drinks.  It was a bit like a gathering of the A-Team or the Justice League, as certain a rescue as we could possibly have wanted.

In a matter of moments the mower was running, although they were somehow managing to sustain it with their hands.  Impressive looking pieces of the engine block were strewn around on our sidewalk, and they were reaching into the openings that were left behind, doing something mysterious and probably dangerous.  Whenever they stopped doing it, the motor stopped too.

Finally after several minutes, they extracted themselves from their surgery, put their mechanical patient back together and stepped away.  With a few sympathetic glances at us, they nodded knowingly at the mower and declared, “Yup, it’s broken.”

Sure, I’d said the same thing, but I’d said it with the same level of conviction I would have used to say that the lawnmower was made of peanut butter and pixies.  On the other hand, they had said it with gravitas.  Gravitas is naturally convincing.

In part 2, I consider buying a truck, our lawn claims another victim, and my wife yells at strangers.


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