Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mowerly Musings (Volume 1, Number 1)

Goin’ Yard
Since I’m pretty much locked into a serious story with my current series, I kind of wanted to get something else out here that I decided to do this past weekend. I’m posting it now before continuing on with the series because it may well become an oft-recurring theme and I don’t want to let it get any colder than it already is.

I’ll get back to my current “What a Long, Strange Trip” series forthwith.

As I’ve mentioned before, yardwork, and more specifically, mowing the lawn, is my therapy. It’s a once-a-week dip in the think-tank to which nothing else seems to compare for me. I sometimes wonder how it is that I survive without it during the winter, yet I never really seem to miss it until the cycle all begins anew in the spring.

My lawnmower is not self-propelled, but my mind always is while I’m using it. This will be a recurring series of short, anecdotal stories about some of these oft-disjointed thoughts that fly through my mind while at the helm of my Sears Craftsman 6.5 HP. Some of these mowerly musings you may later see developed into longer, more complete stories, but for the most part, I’ll be throwing ‘em out there just for fun.

This past Saturday April 2, 2005 was the inaugural spring clippage of my front yard after having mowed the back for the first time two weeks earlier. Once again I found my mind in overdrive, so I decided to grab a piece of paper and a pen to jot down notes on some of the things passing before my mind’s eye as I went along…

• State of the cul-de-sac
I love my neighborhood. I really do. As I prepared to begin my labor of love, it occurred to me how much change has occurred in the eleven year history of the ‘hood.

I have to admit that it’s getting a little disconcerting, the amount of turnover that has happened in my cul-de-sac alone. Besides ours, there are only three of the original ten families remaining on my end of the street. Among the most active in its change of occupants have been the next-door neighbors on either side of my house.

Hmmm…is someone trying to tell me something here?

Two families, the current of which was split two years ago by divorce, have occupied the house on our left. They have two teenage boys, both of which still live there with their Mom (SM1).

The house on our right is currently on occupant group #3, another single Mom (SM2) with another two teenage boys. Unlike the other family, this one didn’t move into the neighborhood until after the divorce. The good news is that they’re all good kids and don’t cause any trouble at all. The bad news is that with no Dad to guide them, the quality of upkeep on the respective yards and home exteriors are rapidly falling further and further away from the standard that we all once held, when all of the original young families arrived on the scene. We were all bursting anew with the pride of home ownership, and secretly competed to see who could make their home and yard the most beautiful.

I dunno, maybe they all looked at my yard and realized that they just couldn’t compete…

…and if ya believe that, I’ve got some lovely oceanfront property in Montana you might be interested in…

• Wake up AJ, I think I got somethin’ to say to you…
I was about ten minutes into mowing the front yard when it happened. There I was, going along in my happy trance, wondering where the HELL all those weeds had come from, while simultaneously reveling in the juxtaposition of warm sunshine and the cool breeze (which are destined to be replaced by oppressive heat and suffocating humidity in a little more than two months time). Suddenly I was more than mildly amused to recognize that in the background of these thoughts, a familiar melody was playing. I laughed out loud when it dawned on me that I was humming along with Rod Stewart singing, “The first cut is the deep-est — BABY I KNOW — The first cut is the deep-est…

I can honestly say I don’t remember beforehand making any kind of cognizant connection between that song and what I was doing.


• Every man has a fantasy
Recently it has become apparent that this new neighbor on the right, SM2, has a boyfriend — at least that’s whom I believe him to be. Michelle would prefer to believe that he’s her brother, but I think I know better. His work van is parked in the driveway from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. “Brothers” don’t spend every weekend night over at Sissy’s for a month straight.

I’ve never met the guy, just seen him coming and going. On two different occasions prior to this weekend, I saw he and SM2 standing in their driveway talking when I would walk by or pull up in my car. Both times she made it a point to say hi, and I returned the greeting. The boyfriend just stared. She never offered to introduce me, so I just continued on my way.

Now if you know anything about me you also know that I’m a pretty gregarious sort, but I don’t normally force myself on to anyone — I can usually tell when someone wants to reciprocate on a greeting, so I normally react based on that. So I can’t exactly say my opinion was all that high on the guy after these first two encounters.

He’s a decent-looking guy, appearing to be in his mid-to-late thirties, as is SM2. He bears the look that is ever so popular for white, thirtysomething males here in Nashville, something I refer to it as “David Wells chic.” The look features a ballcap on a shaved head with a goatee. More often than not, the companion of this fashion statement is a fair-to-middling beer gut, which this guy had as well(s).

I know, I know…bad pun.

Anyway, I began to mow the strip of property that separates SM2’s property from mine (I usually mow both halves of it rather than just mine alone). The boyfriend’s panel van was parked extremely close to the left-hand edge of the driveway, somewhat impeding me from doing as good a job as I would normally do on her half of the strip. The thought did occur to me that given the proximity of the vehicle to my lawnmower, it might be possible that a grass clipping or two might come in contact with the van. So, considering my already somewhat lukewarm opinion of the guy, combined with the stream-of-consciousness mindset I had at the time, I did what any self-respecting red-blooded-TV-violence-bred American male would do.

I fantasized about kickin’ his ass.

Yeah, I admit it. I don’t know this guy from Adam, yet I there I was imagining myself goin’ all pugilistic on his ass. I imagined him storming out of the house to castigate me for getting grass clippings on his van. The thought just kind of flowing, so I allowed myself to go with it.

First, he starts yelling. I deny that I had done any such thing, and why doesn’t he just take his fat can back into the house and swill back a few more beers?

Then he charges toward me and…BOOM! BOOM! I catch him with a left-right jab-hook combo.


I stand over him, sneering like Cassius Clay over Sonny Liston.

I rule…

Oops…I screwed up! I just violated the first rule of Fantasy Fight Club, which is, NEVER talk about Fantasy Fight Club!

Oh, you’re appalled? I guess you’re not a guy. Fantasy Fight Club isn’t something that you join, it’s more something you’re born into. We guys all do it — some of us more than others. Fortunately most of us don’t act out our violent tendencies, but we all think about them.

Now while I don’t go looking for trouble, I’m confident that I would be able to take care of myself if the situation ever called for it. I honestly hope I never have to find out, but when my mind is on auto-pilot, it is sort of fun to imagine.

But then again, maybe that's just my imagination too.


Special thanks to my cyber-editor supreme
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