The woman who invented the wheel was a genius.
The man who invented anything that was intended to work on four wheels was a knucklehead.
The wheel works mighty well – where would we be without it?
We would be without some terrific B.C. comics, that is for sure. Along with the bicycle, the automobile and one terrific invention – the lawn mower.
Except the lawn mower was built for four wheels.
And, as I discovered this past weekend, it doesn’t work so well with three wheels.
When it comes to keeping up with the Jones’ – and unless you’re a minister or priest you know you do it, we ALL try to keep up… it’s the American way – I never care much when a neighbor drives home in a new car.
But when I step outside and see a neighbor with a new tree, a dandelion free lawn or – and this one really gets me – a new and improved mulched front yard, I break into a competitive sweat.
Over the years, I have become a late starter in my competitive quest to have the best lawn on the block. Back in my 40s, I was out there in March, stomping around the yard, picking up loose leaves, cutting back a few dead limbs and looking for the right weekend to lay down my first bags of fertilizer.
What a joke. When I started in March, I had no more success, no more approval from neighbors – especially when I burned out on keeping the lawn beautiful like a Fourth of July sparkler every July 5th.
So I gradually talked myself into not even thinking about the lawn until April.
“The lawn will still be there in April,” I would tell my wife during her Spring Break. “Besides, if I put time back into it next month, I’ll still be going strong in late July and even August. Let’s see old man Morgan down the street – he wilts when we have triple-digit temperatures and I’ll just be getting started.”
My wife has worked with me enough in the yard to know different kinds of fertilizers – and she recognized this fertilizer for what it was.
Which is how I became known as the Last Guy on the Block To Mow each spring.
While you could even hear a mower or two on those 70-degree days in February – who are we kidding, that was just for show, Mr. Billingham! – most on my block waited until the first weekend in April to break out the mower.
Oh, I got the mower out. I took it to the guy who cleaned it up, changed the oil, sharpened the blade, etc. etc. When I got it back four days later, you could eat off that mower deck. The blade was as sharp as a new blade. Now, all I needed was to get the weather to cooperate. So, I waited. And waited. The baseball season started and those major league stadium fields looked inviting… and still, I patiently waited.
“OK, don’t give me that ‘patience’ bit,” my wife barked at me on Saturday. “It is time to mow the lawn. I can’t see the dog when he steps off the deck,” she added.
“The dog is a punk Boston Terrier,” I noted, lying on the couch, wishing anybody but Matt Adams would be playing left field for the Cardinals.
“The dog has allergies and can’t take more than five breaths of air because he has to use his head to plow through the grass that’s up to my knees!” she argued.
It was time to mow. It’s one thing to have a fuzzy-faced dog crawl over you in the middle of the night, it’s whole other party to have him sneeze his way to a spot on the bed.
The mower started perfectly. The blade sliced through the grass better than new. Not halfway through the front yard, my rear wheel broke.
Right off the mower.
I stopped. Tried to pick up all the parts and, like a certain President of the United States, stupidly exclaimed: “Who knew that rear-wheel assembly was so difficult?”
While I tried to piece the mess back together, there was no wing-nut or enough duct tape to keep that wheel on my mower.
After an hour of work, I was smart enough to realize that a mower on three wheels could still complete the front yard.
However, I quickly learned that holding up one left rear wheel really meant supporting the entire back end of a heavy, walk-behind mower.
The mower done, I felt as though I had gone through one of Kip Batye’s YMCA weight training workouts.
At least we won’t lose the dog in the tall grass. Sometime in May, before I mow again, I’ve got to figure out how to replace that wheel.
I’ll get serious about having the best lawn on the block around Memorial Day.