Friday, September 08, 2006

Lawn Care

We live in a modern suburb and have a modern suburban lawn, which consists of about 5 feet of grass around the perimeter of the house. It is nothing like the semi-rural, acre-sized lawns of my youth, where getting the whole thing mowed required Dad spend an entire Saturday driving the John Deere Lawn Tractor around in spirals. No, our entire lawn can be mowed and trimmed by one moderately fit person in about an hour and a half. That moderately fit person is usually me.

For the most part, I enjoy doing yard work (unless the temperature is 101 degrees with 156% humidity). I think I like it because there’s nothing else in my life where I can make such a big difference in the appearance of such a large area with such a small amount of effort. And as an added bonus, after I mow and trim I can rationalize that there’s no need for me to go for a run or clean something or really do anything else useful that day, because I can point and say “Look at what I’ve accomplished already today. I spent an hour sweating AND the lawn is immaculate!” And then I can eat peanut butter M&Ms and watch “Project Runway” free of guilt.

Doing it myself also helps me maintain my self-image of being a liberated, self-reliant woman-of-the-world who doesn’t need a man to mow her lawn. Of course, that’s totally stupid, because there’s nothing about operating a lawnmower that proves anyone is liberated or self-reliant. It’s just not that complicated. You push the priming button, you pull the little cord until the mower starts, and then you push the mower around until all the grass in your yard is the same height. It’s usually hot and dirty, but there’s nothing about it that requires a lot of physical strength or brain power or anything other than a willingness to get sweaty and dirty. I know all that, and yet it still makes me feel self-reliant to mow the lawn myself. However, I do applaud all the women who have convinced the men in their lives that they couldn’t possibly manage the complexities of pushing a lawnmower in circles. Those women are smart.

For a while we had a neighborhood kid mow our lawn for way too much money, but he has since grown up and gone off somewhere. He’s probably sailing the world in a yacht he bought with the money he made mowing our yard. I tell you when I was a kid you could get someone to mow your yard for five or ten bucks, sometimes we actually paid people to let us mow their yards for them, for the sheer joy of it…….OK, that’s total crap, but he was a little pricey. I’m just saying.

We briefly had a professional lawn care guy, but he wasn’t reliable about showing up. He ignored our requests for mowing until the grass had grown so tall that we started keeping a machete in the car glove box to hack a path from the driveway to the front door. DC wanted a scythe, but I thought that that might be too dangerous. A little advice: No matter how tempting it is, do not pay a lawn care professional in advance, ever, even if he makes you an extra-special deal on a package of 10 mowings. DON’T do it.

DC mows every now and then, but I prefer that he not because he has some allergy issues. Mowing the yard makes him cough up his internal organs, and he needs to keep those on the inside of his body. Plus, I have to listen to him cough them up, and I don’t have to tell you how annoying that can be.

Really, the only drawback of my doing the mowing is that I know it gives DC a twinge of machismo every now and then. Deep down inside, I know there’s a tiny little piece of him, probably in his testicles, that doesn’t like the neighbors seeing his wife mowing the lawn and then probably assuming he’s inside watching professional wrestling and drinking beer in the air-conditioning. I know, because it’s much like the twinge I get whenever someone finds out that DC does all the cooking and then gets “that” look on their face. No one ever says anything, but I know what they’re thinking. My womanhood is being silently questioned. Then I resist the urge to announce to everyone that I am indeed a woman and DC cooks because he LIKES to cook and there’s nothing wrong with me because I don’t like to cook and the fact that someone has ovaries does not mean that person will enjoy spending an entire day standing in front of a stove, cooking dinner for a house full of ingrates who will spend about 45 seconds eating that dinner and then go back to watching a football game without even thinking about helping with the dishes. So. Clearly, I have no issues here. Let’s just move along….

DC and I have both learned to live with our twinges. The occasional deviation from the norm in male-female areas of responsibility around the house works for us. We can handle the random look or assumption. The important thing is that we deviate in complimentary ways, so at least all the chores get done.


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