I’ve done a terrible thing that is assailing my conscience in a troubling manner. No, I haven’t taken to drinking gin before sunup, smoking opium or cavorting with teenaged nymphets or anything quite so colorful and debilitating.
The terrible thing I’ve done is to sign up with a lawn-maintenance service. That’s right, I have taken the step to now sit back as a slack-assed sluggard while a couple of young bucks lime, fertilize and mow.
The decision was a long time coming. For years Wendy had said we should have somebody else do the lawn so that it wasn’t hanging over us and we didn’t have to make arrangements when we went on vacation. And, I did think that my old man likely never cut a lawn past the age of 40. I am, ahem, a tad past the age of 40 so why should I be doing it still?
But, balked for a long time in giving in to the inevitable. You see, grass cutting was, for me, a symbol that I wasn’t yet entirely past it. In bowing down to this decision it seems like it puts me one step closer to the grave, or at least to riding around on a scooter rather than continuing to exercise my personal myth that tells me if I were single I’d still be bigtime date-bait.
As it is, we live in the heart of suburbia and in North American suburbia lawns rule. When we moved into this house over a decade ago it had huge lawns front and back. The previous owners obviously cherished their herbaceous verdancy and had installed underground sprinklers and all the other accoutrements of lawn care. Over the years we have whittled away at a lot of the lawn and put it into neato little flowerbeds and the like. But, there is still a lot of it left and what’s left does need mowing on a regular basis.
There are those anal enviro sorts that maintain lawns are wasteful and hence evil. Well, actually they’re not. They serve nicely in cooling the house on those 11 torrid days we get each summer. So, I don’t mind them and I like them to look good, neat and trim and verdant, and the sprinklers take care of that.
I also suffer from lawn maintenance guilt. For a few days prior to actual mowing I would fuss and fret how the lawn needed cutting and I would chastise myself for not getting to it by focusing on things like earning a living in the manner I do.
And sometimes my neighbor would beat me to the task. That would send my guilt into the stratosphere, especially a few years ago when Dale, my former neighbor would beat me to the task. At one level I loved it when Dale cut her lawn because she would wear skimpy enough to be barely legal shorts and had tanned legs to her armpits, but it would still make me guilty when I got there first. Dale told me later that if I’d cut my lawn when she was out, she’d feel compelled to cut hers. Actually I knew that, and that meant she’d be out in her bitty shorts. It doesn’t take much to amuse me.
What really prompted my decision at this time juncture is that age had finally taken its toll on my mower. It has been a good mower that we bought when we moved into the house in 1998. But, time and wear had done what they do and beginning a few years ago bits began to fall off; then the plastic wheels broke and had to be replaced, and finally the recoil starter cord broke no less than three times and I had to go through the ordeal of rewinding a new one.
When it broke for the last time, late last summer, Wendy said she was going to be firm about it all. She didn’t want to get a new mower; she wanted somebody else to have the headache. I grudgingly agreed after we’d had a service come in to do the final mowings of the season. I had to confess that was kind of nice.
Yet even now, I look out and think I could be out there cutting the thing if only I had a mower. I had to actually stop myself from perusing the mowers at Home Depot last weekend, but damn it, they look so nice, so inviting, and so seductive.
But, Wendy’s ‘no!’ was firm, so I guess I’ll just have to adjust.