Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Does Lawn Mowing Equal Insanity?

It’s unfortunate when you have one of those neighbors that always waits way too long to mow their lawn. All the houses on the block have pristine yards except for that one house, the one with knee high grass and tons of weeds that just seems to bring down the whole neighborhood. Well get over it, because complaining about it isn’t going to get me to mow my lawn any quicker.

As you can guess, I do not like mowing the lawn. I’ve been doing it since I was 12 and frankly, I’ve had enough. On the other hand Pat is a fan of it and isn’t on any medication that I’m aware of (or maybe that’s the problem!). Therefore we will now debate the issue. Go ahead Pat, convince me that you are still sane.

Pat: Okay, this might be hard. I realize that the task of mowing one's lawn is inherently dreadful. Aside from the eco-terror that the growing of a lawn represents, the act of building up a hearty sweat to simply make it look neat seems ridiculous. Further, as your latent ire with your parents for their unjust chore-assignment shows, for many people lawn-mowing symbolizes a form of suppression. Remember that forest that I used to live in? My parents assigned me the joyous task of mowing those damn weeds on a weekly basis. And my sister...I think her chore might have been to hang out with college boys or something. Is that chore-equity?! You're right...it can really suck. Lawn-mowing can equal bondage.

However, there is also a freedom in mowing the lawn. Think about where we are for a minute, Christian. Thirty-eight years, house, spouse, kids...life is good, right? And yet how many times do you find yourself spent, void of energy or thought, unable even to explain yourself in words that would make sense to a two year old. When that burden of having to relate to or connect with your kid, your wife, your postal worker, your tax agent, your dog or your own head becomes too much, what are you gonna' do?

You know what I do? I plug in my earphones, turn on some good rock (though, as the days turn and the sun brings out the autumn hues I find myself in much more of a folk mood. Ah, poetry!) and get out there to buzz-cut my fucking weeds, man! In that one hour, I can sweat (exercise!), bang my head out-of-time with the beat (Dude!), and yell at on-lookers that I can't hear them. It's awesome. Monks have their monasteries, I have my lawn. And if I need more, I might just whip out the edger to make some really clean lines. Therapy, meditation...whatever you wanna' call it, mowing the lawn is keeping me grounded on earth right now.

I'll credit you some points... being the one house on the block that looks like shit just sucks. But someone has to do it. Even Texas has a democrat or two... do you think they deal with their ostracism by not voting? Further, you may want to look into your device. For years I went the route of the no-footprint push mower. Great in terms of karmic debt, but terrible in terms of results, and, if you're like me, you find yourself with more self-inflicted gut punches than is necessary. Also, your lawn comes out looking like someone whose mom cut their hair with a butter knife. Go power...I prefer electric, but some folks I've talked to say that the smell of gas can't be beat. Device is key!

I just worry about you buddy... I hate to see you so cavalierly cast off something that might have the potential to bring you great joy. Give grass a chance, man.

Christian: I’m going to cavalierly cast off your argument based on the fact that you said “life is good, right?”. This completely undermines your argument. I have a three year old and a one year old at home. I’m too sleep deprived and exhausted to classify this as life is good. On those rare occasions that I actually have a little free time to myself, I do things like brush my teeth and shower. Not mow the lawn.

But I will agree with you on two points: 1) Device is key. There’s no way I would even consider a push mower. What am I an ox? Also an electrical mower is out of the question since I’m terrified of being killed by electricity and I would inevitably run over the power cord. Gas is where it’s at. 2) I also love the idea of yelling at on-lookers that I can’t hear them. Especially when they’re not actually saying anything.

What I want to know is how is it that science hasn’t given us grass that only grows to a maximum of a three inches high? Are we at least putting some research into this? Do we need more stem cells? Do we have too many stem cells? What’s the deal here? I think we need to get more of our top guys on it. Maybe we can get some of the cancer guys. We can hold off on cancer for now until we solve this grass growing issue. It shouldn’t take too long, then they can get back on cancer. Grass that only grows a few inches high would solve everything.

Pat: Touché, friend. Once again, I was victim to the bias of my own experience. Indeed, while life with a three-year old and a one-year old is joyous in its own way (and, I assume, we both know that that is the official line, for to say how one is really feeling about the situation and the human creatures that cause it relegates one to the deepest pits of parent hell...right?), I forgot that it may not be as sweet as the life that a 6 and 8 year old engender.

I'll credit you some more points. While I stroll lazily up and down my yard making delicious lines in the grass (TWO shades of green, either way you look at it!), my kids play delightfully on their own or dangerously close to traffic, all without me worrying a single bit. Yours are probably finding their way to the underside of the mower. While I pause from my trimming to sip a cool lemonade or double scotch, you have to pull the mower over in order to lift the child's bottle out of the pile of steamy dog shit it just fell into. While I grimace at the idea of dumping the bag of clippings into the yard debris receptacle, you struggle to fish the child out of the same receptacle after realizing that the Bjorn wasn't as tight as it should have been.

So, alright...you win on that one. For now.

I still contend that, while it may not exist for you now as a perk, it one day will, and thus you should strive for it with vim and vigor. It sucked not being able to drive, especially when you saw those around you obtain their sacred holy license, driving crazily down the street, blowing by you on your Schwinn Varsity Deluxe (sorry...that might be a little projection) but did that stop you from saving up for that sweet jet-fighter blue Subaru wagon? (a very sensible car, by the way...I have always meant to tell you that. Good choice in my opinion) No. We do not let the hindrances of today delay our dreams for tomorrow.

So I beg of you Christian, while you may cast aside that mower and all it represents, do not give up hope for the future that it holds for you. I guarantee you that some of life's sweetest moments-- a child's graduation or wedding, a significant promotion, a benign tumor-- will be made all the sweeter as you reflect upon them while mowing your lawn.

Peace, brother.

Christian: I can’t believe you’re now claiming to have some kind of spoon bending mind powers that can predict the future. Are you serious? I think you may have finally cracked. But fortunately for us, I do happen have these powers. It’s one of my two special purposes.

In the future we’ll be eating expensive smoked meats from tubes, riding space elevators to the moon while sipping martinis, and I will still not enjoy mowing the lawn. I have foreseen it. It’s similar to how I know in the future I won’t be sexually attracted to staplers. Yes, even chocolate covered staplers.

But don’t worry I’ve got the future covered. One of the main reasons for having kids is to have future candidates to take over lawn mowing duties. I’ve already got my three year old a plastic toy mower so he can train now. I have him go back and forth across the carpet making sure he covers the entire thing. I’m very strict about it too. I’m constantly pointing out spots that he misses and making sure he goes over them again and again. It’s a lot of fun. So as you can see I’ve got a happy no lawn mowing future ahead of me. Should be starting soon. I just need to get him to figure out how to fill the mower up with gasoline.

But in the mean time, I did find a way to make lawn mowing tolerable for myself. I started paying someone else to do it. It’s unbelievably awesome. So in the end I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. You can go ahead and unreasonably continue to enjoy lawn mowing while I’ll continue to be known as the sane one.

Pat:  I don't think you even like Martinis. Smoked tube meats I'll concede you, but not martinis.

I hate to get you on a logical technicality, but I'm stubborn, and I refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a world where lawn-mowing does not bring joy. Three things I believe:

1. The fact that you are priming your own son for the chore of lawn-mowing means that, in time, you will take incredible pleasure in the mowing of your lawn. It just won't be you mowing it. But, technically, the lawn is getting mowed and you are getting happy. I win.

2. You may not enjoy mowing the lawn now. You may not have enjoyed it in your youth. You perhaps have been utilizing the wrong mechanisms to employ such a task. You may have been tasked with shearing a lawn so fraught with weeds that mowing proved too arduous a duty. But you will, someday, enjoy mowing the lawn. You won't know where, and you certainly won't know when, but someday you will find yourself drawn to the act of retrieving the mower from the garage (or the space-portal of your future) and gliding it effortlessly, or with considerable effort, across your overgrown yard. And you will revel-- dare I say dance a little jig-- at the sight of your newly preened green space. Such is the food of faith, and if you discredit me this argument you may as well tell the billions of followers of unseen gods that they are wrong too. You confident enough to do that, infidel?

3. There is a chance-- albeit slight-- that I am totally off my rocker on this one, that I have repressed so deeply an inner hatred of lawn-mowing that I circuitously have convinced myself that I love it. If that is the case, I call upon your sense of compassion for other humans. Is it really so important to you to win this argument that in doing so you totally unhinge my sense of peace, calm, rightness and justice, rendering me utterly useless as a husband, father and contributing member of society. I need this one, man. I need it like I've needed nothing else. Ever. And I can't really fathom what might happen if you take it away from me. Please.

So...there. Glad you found someone to mow your lawn. Are they cheap?

Christian: Yes.  I’ll hook you up.


  1. Yes, Christian, you're an ox. Maybe an ox that can see into the future, but you're still an ox that will never be attracted to chocolate staplers and likes to yell at onlookers. Sorry, but someone had to tell you.

  2. Dedrick - When you put it that way it seems so obvious now.

  3. I think that Pat's on to something here Christian. You need to find your own personal zen in lawn maintenance.

  4. Thanks for the props (or, as the kids these days are saying- "big ups"), Megiweg. Y'know, I just mowed my lawn in anticipation of the rapture, and something tells me that Jesus will reward my hard work in the afterworld.

  5. By the way...I don't think the kids are really saying that these days. 38 year old lawn-mowing men, yes, but not the kids.