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Dad

Mowing to Adulthood

Posted on 2010.04.12 at 13:15
Current Location: 75070
Current Music: Horner - Avatar
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When I was but a lad in shortpants I couldn't wait to show my father I was capable of mowing our lawn - to push that mower back and forth across the yard for a feeling of accomplishment which can only come with a well-shorn plot. It was a year of discoveries as well. Discovering that using a $500 LawnBoy the elderly lady down the street owned to mow her lawn for cash was a dream to use compared to our aging push-mower, which, while excessively vibratory, could indeed launch me from start to finish in about 30-seconds if you leaned against the handle just right while pushing. But once dad handed me the reins, he never mowed our yard again. From about 12, until I left home, it was entirely my responsibility, and let me tell you - it gets old. Fast. And the replacement mower ran far too smoothly for any collateral joy, but I digress.



It dawned on me this weekend that I'd never bought a mower. As us kids left the house, and my dad got older, he starting buying nicer mowers, which I inherited every couple of years to replace the $99 push-mower he got us for our first house which didn't die for fully TEN YEARS. God I hated that mower. And he was so proud of our first custom home that he mowed my yard - for fun and exercise. So I've never had to buy one. At any rate, the last one he'd given me was a nice 6.5 horsepower self-propelled Toro...with a broken drive. "But you're young, and strong," my old man told me when he gave it to me. "You can push it...Besides, your yard is small."

And its true. But self-propelled mowers are heavier. Much heavier. And you push against the gears when they go out, which still turn, so its additional friction. In fact, I've been fighting that sonofabitch for the past two years, but I never realized exactly *how* hard that mower was to push until this weekend. I'd bought the 5.5 horsepower Yard Boy at Wal-Mart for $170 during lunch Friday, the one just below this one. It was sitting in my car in the parking lot at work when Mr. Witwicky (not his real name, but what my wife calls him) noticed it in my car and asked if it was the $195 one from Home Depot? The Yard Machines? Which is made by Troy-Bilt? And has the 6.75 horsepower engine? Because that's important, especially for tall grass. And the large back wheels? Which turn and push so much easier than small wheels. He'll never get small wheels again. And it was down from $220. Did I get that one? No?

[Mr. Witwicky exits stage left]

I left work with gritted teeth and drove to Home Depot to verify his claims. There it was. Beautiful. Then on to Wal-Mart where I tugged that huge friggin' box out of my Tib, got a refund, drove back to Home Depot and bought the mower. "That Mr. Witwicky sure knows what he's talking about." My wife says. His word is now hallowed in the halls of our house. And let me tell you something - its not yet summer, the weather here was high 60s, maybe low 70s. A good, constant breeze, but not windy. I cracked open a New Belgium 1554 Black Ale, reached into my humidor to discover a forgotten cigar my wife's biological father had sent me for Christmas, and I mowed the lawn more tediously than I ever have before. One handed. I made half-swatches. I went back-and-forth over the thick spots, and I walked really, really, slow. I've never mowed a lawn of any size more slowly than this weekend, and it was heaven.



In fact, my whole weekend was fantastic. I made banana pancakes for the kids, we worked around the house, my wife re-laid our flower bed and the kids and I gamed quite a bit: Age of Empires III and UT2004. My weekend seemed very long - sometimes Production Maintenance eats up a weekend, but since mine was in the middle of night, and I'd gotten three-hours sleep prior & after, it really just seemed to extend my waking hours. What a wonderful weekend. What a wonderful family. Pretty soon, it'll be my turn to hand over the reins.

Comments:


pgrtop
pgrtop at 2010-04-12 18:31 (UTC) (Link)
Congrats on your new mower! Have you ever noticed how having the right tool for the job (any job) makes the work so much more satisfying? You almost look forward to performing a task which you used to dread.

One additional, and very important, added benefit of Mr Witwicky's involvement. You can rest assured that his recommendation came from hours and hours of exhaustive research, to a depth most of us mere mortals would never consider. I like to call it the "Witwicky Approach", which I learned from being "Witwickied" numerous times. Being Witwickied involves having to answer his questions during project reviews. It can be painful until you learn that he is always right...and that is a rare thing indeed.

I hope your new mower provides years of dedicated service and fulfillment to you, Sir!
ehowton
ehowton at 2010-04-12 20:25 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I just wish the entire Summer would be as pleasant as this weekend was. Having worked under the tutelage of Mr. Witwicky as Data Center Manager, he would often ask us if we'd considered completely left-field scenarios which left us feeling dazed and just a little bit nauseous because he often sounded a little off his rocker. But SURE ENOUGH everything he spaketh came forth, just as he said it would. He's a lot like a prophet, and nowadays I actively seek his council.
Lelf Treperra
ubet_cha at 2010-04-12 21:00 (UTC) (Link)
New tool! Awesome. Here’s to it lasting a decade or more for you.


I’m curious about the plants your wife selected for your flower bed, since we’ll be working on ours this spring. Always looking for new ideas
ehowton
ehowton at 2010-04-13 00:45 (UTC) (Link)
Bluebonnets (The State Flower of Texas), pineapple sage, basil, catnip & marigolds:



It was just disclosed to me that she let my daughter pick out the flowers (she's seven). Now we know.

Edited at 2010-04-13 12:56 am (UTC)
xx_adamo_mangie
xx_adamo_mangie at 2010-04-12 23:24 (UTC) (Link)
It's amazing how objects such as a lawnmower are so deeply embedded in our childhood memories. I remember curtains. And I remember playing with my dad, by hiding behind them.
I remember the push manual lawn mower- because it was probably the most retro thing I've ever seen, and the most painful thing to wake up in the morning after using. But it was fun. It was a responsibility that I fulfilled.
I mean- now I'm 18 and I just say "Fuck that" and pass it over to my brothers. But back then- it was cool.

You don't remember all the money, the expensive toys, or the oodles and oodles of candy. You remember that normal everyday stuff that most people sort of scoff at.

Du rigour-
ehowton
ehowton at 2010-04-13 00:57 (UTC) (Link)
I never really thought of it that way, but there's a certain poetry to it.
Samantha
thesweetestnote at 2010-04-13 04:58 (UTC) (Link)
SUPER KICK ASS DUDE!!!! That mower rocks! Add a beer holder to the handle and BANG ZOOM! Now, you know you need to paint "BAD ASS MOTHERFUCKER" on the sides. Hell...even sport the fro. And you'll need to acquire a theme band to follow close behind as you mow.
ehowton
ehowton at 2010-04-13 12:39 (UTC) (Link)
And you'll need to acquire a theme band to follow close behind as you mow.

Now that's what I'm talking about!
Samantha
thesweetestnote at 2010-04-13 16:14 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Hell Yea!!! I want in the horn section!!!!
pgrtop
pgrtop at 2010-04-13 12:51 (UTC) (Link)
I am hearing "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin...Jimmy Page wailing on his Les Paul....
ehowton
ehowton at 2010-04-14 01:19 (UTC) (Link)
What happened to, "Born to Mow?"
pgrtop
pgrtop at 2010-04-14 02:04 (UTC) (Link)
I misspelled "tattoo", was embarrassed and deleted it.

Here is the original, properly spelled post:

And a tattoo that says "Born to Mow!"
Jas
exorhi at 2010-04-13 23:59 (UTC) (Link)
We tilled our garden and started planting recently. I hope its a good season
ehowton
ehowton at 2010-04-14 01:21 (UTC) (Link)
I grew a lot of eggplant when I lived in Irving. I want to plant eggplant. And I hope this summer is the most amazing summer we've seen in years ;)
irulan_amy at 2010-04-14 04:15 (UTC) (Link)
I've heard that kids are exceptionally talented at mowing lawns. ;)

Somehow, and I don't know how, but I never mowed the lawn. I think mostly because dad liked it mowed a very particular way. I've only used a lawnmower maybe ten times that I can remember. I've driven a tractor more. Weird huh?
drax0r
drax0r at 2010-04-15 15:11 (UTC) (Link)
I don't know that I'd go so far as to say they were exceptionally talented, but they can generally be made to do a job acceptable enough to allow adults not to have to sweat so much.
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