I think the Latin for “lawn mower” would be something like resecans agros (“that which cuts fields low”), although resecans agrorum (“the cutting low thing of the fields”) sounds cooler. This is important to know because I seem to be starting a collection of them, or at least their remains. When I pin them to a large board, I need to know what to put on the associated identification labels. If this were an old cartoon, they would have faux Latin names like mowerus worthlessium, failum immediatum, or scrappum metalis. Does anyone know how to make my life a cartoon?
The whole business is getting out of hand. I have so many dead lawnmowers in my yard that I suspect my house is starting to get an unsavory reputation. It’s going to become the sort of place that neighborhood kids reference in their scary stories: “Billy got too close to the mower house, and he vanished!” Even worse, it might actually be worthy of those stories. If Billy gets too close, he might vanish because our lawn might eat him.
Our lawn is the reason for the mower collection; it keeps killing them. In the Gospels Jesus talks about grass as though it were something fleeting (Matthew 6, Luke 12). He was not talking about our grass. For us, lawn mowers are fleeting.
Specimen #1 – Sputterus Anstallus
First it killed the one mower we own. Our mower isn’t fancy, but we bought it because it was supposed to last forever. Instead, it spends forever being serviced. We didn’t so much buy a mower as we bought an incredibly expensive claim ticket. We knew we had a problem when we started ending our conversations with the service personnel by saying, “See you later.”
Specimen #2 – Victimus Nearbyus
Our neighbor’s mower died next, so when we asked to borrow it, we couldn’t. I suppose it’s a stretch to implicate our lawn, but I think the timing is too suspicious for it not to be involved somehow. What are the odds of his mower failing right after ours? It’s especially strange because he’s the neighbor who can fix anything. Something nefarious was keeping his lawnmower down. Clearly our lawn has agents in his, and they perpetrated some sort of dastardly sabotage. Our lawn knew we would turn to him so it tried to eliminate the support he could give.
Specimen #3 – Losta Wheelum
Then things took a serious turn. We should have heeded our lawn’s obvious hints and not continued the fight. Instead we borrowed a mower from a friend. I can only hope that it didn’t know what fate awaited it. When our lawn realized that we weren’t backing down, it got angry. After that it wasn’t satisfied with merely causing mower failure, it wanted to break them into pieces.
Of course, our friend’s mower wasn’t exactly a touchstone of mechanical excellence. It had personality, in the way that emphysema gives lungs personality. Our friend warned us that we would need to run forward while pulling its starter cord, and that we should expect it to stall about five times before building up the gumption to last through an entire yard. Even then, she said it would likely wheeze and jerk, in the manner of a machine with both emphysema and the hiccups.
She should have warned us that we could only mow in a single straight line. As soon as my wife tried to round a corner, one of the wheels continued forward and rolled away down the sidewalk.
My wife wanted to cry over the absurdity of it all. She called me out to look at the mower, to see if I could fix it. This was possibly the most absurd part, but she loves me and therefore remains optimistic about my abilities. Even I could recognize broken and twisted metal, though. I didn’t know what our lawn could have done to have caused the damage, but I knew enough to stand on the sidewalk after seeing it.
Specimen #4 – Scaredan Smokan
By that point our grass was approaching a height that would prompt police action, and possibly pre-emptive military strikes. We knew that we needed to mow it, but we were running out of friends who were naive enough to lend us equipment. The odds of us returning it compared unfavorably to the odds of winning the lottery. Thankfully we know some generous people. In the future however, we need to try to meet generous people who own nice things.
The next mower we borrowed could have been from a children’s book, albeit a children’s book about how people shouldn’t beat up the dirty saggy mower. Still, it had a plucky quality that gave us hope. It seemed like the sort of mower that might repeat, “I think I can. I think I can.”
Our lawn did not think it could. Our lawn was right. Every inch was a battle as the poor little mower’s engine strained against the thick tall grass. Soon it started sputtering and smoking. I should have stopped right then, but I was pretty desperate not to go to jail. A minute later the mower wasn’t really even cutting the grass; it was just dying noisily near it.
All told, I mowed about ten feet before the mower locked up completely and started ejecting fluids out of every vent and opening. I have to admit, for a moment I was hoping it would catch fire. I thought fire might have a chance against our lawn.
Specimen #5 – Fancius Loaneri
Finally, when we told the service center about all of our troubles, they agreed to loan us a mower. It’s easily the most extravagant lawnmower I’ve ever seen. A part of me is expecting it to transform into a robot to battle evil. Although, instead of other robots, I’m imagining that the evil in question is the jungle that’s threatening to swallow my house.
Unfortunately, having already sacrificed an unprecedented string of mowers, my wife and I are both too afraid to use the loaner. Frankly, as nice as it probably is, we don’t want to risk breaking it, then having to buy it, then having to wait while the service center repairs it.
Of course, the other day I saw a police car turn into onto our block and my heart started racing. I thought it might be coming for me. Pretty soon, I’m going to have to face one fear or the other. Is it sad that I can’t decide between mowing and arrest?