Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mowing with Thunder

Like most normal college students, I find myself working random, unwanted jobs in addition to my full-time job so that I can upgrade from Top Ramen to Pasta-A-Roni come fall semester. Also, these other jobs often provide the excitement and intellectual stimulation often lacking at my tool job...for example, one odd job I've taken up is mowing all my brother's lawns for him while he is surfing the Net and watching t.v. all day at my dad's house in Missouri. Now, by "all his lawns," I mean 3 patches of grass that take me all of about an hour and forty-five minutes each week to cut up (two hours if I feel like meandering extra carefully around the gladiolas and daisies). For an extra 37 dollars a week, I'll do whatever I have to.

To allow myself a slight tangent, I think that grass lawns must be about the stupidest idea since the month of January. I mean, whoever thought of planting a bunch of poky green(ish) needles that require constant watering, fertilizing, and cutting all in the name of a place to recreate just seems downright contradictory--like saying that since A equals B, A must also equal 7, even though there is no third equation to prove that theory. I think the people who do the Astroturf are onto something---a non-allergenic green carpet to suit all of your croquet and tea party needs. But I digress.

Two days a week, I don the same grubby red shorts and grass-stained "I Heart DC" shirt and slip on some flip-flops (to the dismay of my mother, who claims I'll cut off my feet, to which I reply, "The only way I'll cut off my feet is if I suddenly have a monstrous seizure, and if I'm going around having monstrous seizures, I think we've got a much bigger problem than a few missing toes on our hands"). At the beginning of the summer, being a rookie at this whole business, that's all the protection it took. But, as my long ponytail kept getting snagged by dying flower bushes and low-hanging tree branches, I bought a cute army-style hat so that all the crap from the flaking vegetation got on that and not stuck in my getting-almost-too-long hair. Later I added sunglasses to try and conceal my identity so I wouldn't have to nod at the neighbors every time I pushed the mower their way--I could plead anonymity. Almost, anyway.

I actually started doing lawns for my brother two summers ago, and with all the expertise I've gained in the journey, I knew to dread the end-of-July/beginning-of-August stretch, because it could only mean one thing: ripe fruit. More particularly, ripe apricots. Hundreds of them. On the ground. Now, if I was a more thorough sort of mower, I probably would stoop down, stretch my aging back, and scoop up the little buggers to throw away before starting in on the task at hand. Or at the very least eat them, or throw them in the neighbor's zinnia bed. Not me. I just mow right over it all, creating one fantastically sticky, gloopy, orange mess that somehow ends up all over my shins. To justify my laziness, I argue that I'm just helping to fertilize the lawn, since that's one of the responsibilites of having a lawn (as mentioned earlier). But the whole process does become a bit annoying when my feet start sticking for dangerously long periods of time to my sandals, which makes me wonder if I might have a rage-induced seizure that would cut off my toes and spew my foot guts everywhere, just as my mom predicted. It would probably serve me right.

Next to apricots, probably the biggest thorn in my side is sprinkler heads. And rosebushes (ha ha, forgive the pun). My stepdad spent all of his 4th of July holiday digging around one of the sprinklers that I'd probably damaged in the first place, and even spray-painted it bright yellow so I would know its exact location on the face of the grass-map. Well, not even 3 weeks later, I'm pushing my mower along as merrily as you please, thinking about smoothies and tropical birds and rat poison (like any normal person often does), when all of a sudden, I hear the sickening clunk of the mower blade hitting metal. Or more accurately, slicing metal. Yep, I had broken it again. If I was a swearing sort of person, I would have sworn. Instead, I settled for a few well chosen insults hurled at myself and the mower and the neighbors and the birds as I salvaged the little pieces of metal and carried them into the house, where I placed them on a top of a nice little note explaining why I was apparently color-blind. Lately I've just taken to taking a wide berth around the things, even if it does make for odd-looking squiggles in my mowing designs.

And then there's the matter of Thunder. Thunder is the name I've appropriately given to my neighbor's rambunctious, overexcited dog, who goes ballistic at the sight of my red mower. The first summer I started mowing, Thunder scared the grass right off of me--he would throw himself madly against the chain-link face with a crazy look in his bloodshot eyes as he barked so furiously that he started foaming at the corners. By the time I'd made a couple of passes, he would start digging (yes, digging) to try and get under the fence and at the mower (which I've affectionately named Bo because it sounded masculine but not too tough-guy. My mower's got a soft spot for daylilies). Since then, Thunder has put on a bit of weight and started graying a bit around the haunches, which means no more throwing himself at things. But the dog still has it in him to bark as loud as a rock concert every time I start pushing the mower in his general direction. Which brings me to why I named him Thunder----it's because I can't help but hum a little AC/DC under my breath every time the battle of decibels starts up again: uh a uh ah ah THUNDER uh a uh ah drives him crazy. But Thunder's easy to please---the second I turn the mower the slightest decimeter away from him to head the other direction, he'll trot off, all smiles and foam.

To Thunder, to the rosebushes that have probably permanently scarred my forearms, to the sprinklers lying in wait to screw up my blade, I say this: Bo will be back. And he'll do the exact same thing he's done for the past three summers---mow straight little lines all around you. So take that.


  1. good reading, fantastic writer...I digress for i cannot hold a candle to such a commentary.

  2. I too love your writing style. You're awesome Torrie.


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