I don't like mowing lawns, and I've been doing it all my life. At the moment my lawn needs to be mowed, and I'm delaying the inevitable by writing this blog. It's far easier to write about mowing the lawn in my air conditioned office with a diet ginger ale than to actually go out in the heat of a July afternoon and really mow the lawn. Yeah, I know it's just delaying things, but I'll take what I can get.
My first memory of mowing lawns was back in the very early 1960s. We were living with my grandmother, and although she really didn't have a very big yard, it was my responsibility to mow it. No, they didn't have riding mowers back than, or even gasoline mowers. We had a push mower with rotary blades. If you've never used one … don't. They're horrible contraptions, even though they do a great job on cutting grass. You have to actually push them, and it's lot of work.
I did such a good job on my grandmother's lawn that my mother volunteered me to mow a neighbor's lawn. Yes, I said “volunteered,” which means “free.” I dragged my push mower up to Mrs. B's lawn and cut the grass. Apparently, I didn't do any trimming of the edges, because Mrs. B was quick to point out my lack of effort to my mother. My mother would make me go back and Mrs. B would stand there watching me as I crawled on my hands and knees around her yard clipping every blade of grass that was higher than the others. This was taking most of the day! Time for a new deal. Renegotiating, I found myself being paid to mow Mrs. B's lawn for the princely sum of $5.00 including the trimming. I'm rich!
I became so good at this perfect mowing that my mother wanted me to go out and get other neighbors to hire me. No deal. I hate this.
Going to college finally meant I didn't have to mow any more lawns … until my sophomore year. That year I got a job in the maintenance department of an apartment complex. In the summer, my main responsibility was … wait for it … mowing all the lawns. There was so much to mow that even with a riding mower it took all week. In my junior year I got promoted. I could now mow the lawn without Jesse, the head of maintenance, inspecting my work every day.
Funny thing about that junior year: There was another guy named Pete who was also mowing lawns. I was a philosophy major at UMass, and Pete had just gotten his doctorate in philosophy. At the time, I was working on an early master's thesis about Immanuel Kant, a new interpretation of the Fifth Postulate of his Categorical Imperative (I know, right?). I asked Pete why, if he had his doctorate in philosophy, he was mowing lawns with me. He told me it was the only job he could find. After careful consideration, I realized I already had the same job as a doctor of philosophy. I left school that spring and never went back. Immanuel Kant was forgotten.
What followed was years and years of mowing my lawn. I mowed and mowed and mowed until 2007, when my wife and I separated. I found myself in a rental house, where I learned a wondrous thing: Lawn care was included in my rent. I thought I might rent for the rest of my life! But then I met the Lovely Louise, and in 2010, we bought a house with a huge yard.
Not to worry. We also had two teenage boys who could help pay for their keep by mowing the lawn. I figured they could use the power mower, since it would help keep them in shape, and when they finally moved out I would buy a riding mower, since it would then be my responsibility. Great plan … until one day I saw Alex calmly mowing the lawn with clouds of smoke coming from the mower. Eventually he had to stop because the engine seized. Time for a new mower.
Off to Sears, and while we were looking at the regular mowers, the Lovely Louise spotted the lawn tractors. She thought one of these would make it easier for the boys, and couldn't understand why I didn't want it easier for them. I wanted them to work. I'll bet you can guess who won that debate. Yup, we became the proud owners of a brand new John Deere riding lawnmower.
Well, the boys are gone now, and one of them has his own lawn to mow. The other was smarter, and moved into a complex where the management company keeps the grounds tidy. Me? I'm looking out my window, and it's abundantly clear that the lawn is screaming for me to come outside and give it a haircut. I can't put it off any longer, so I'm going to finish this up and do what needs to be done.
Maybe when I'm done I can swim in the pool, and Louise will take pity on me and bring me a little snack and an icy beverage while I'm floating comfortably in the deep end!