If you stop by here with any regularity, you know that I’ve written a time or two about my general lack of interest in mowing the lawn. I pay a guy to come by and cut it when it’s reached ankle depth, but if he doesn’t show up for a while it’s been known to get long enough to hide a small dog.
So all that is a given, but I got to thinking today about what might have created my lifelong aversion to grass mowing — other than, you know, my natural laziness — and I think I might have figured something out. It just might have its roots (no pun intended) in an experience from my childhood.
I’ve written before about my youngest uncle, mostly in a piece called Summertime And The June Bugs Are Buzzin’, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that for a few Summers he maintained a small lawn service. Most of his jobs involved mowing small cemeteries in the rural area where they lived, with the occasional churchyard thrown in. He had fixed up a couple of used power mowers he’d scrounged somewhere, and I was old enough by then to help him mow whenever we visited.
Power mowers were still kind of a novelty at that time, and I remember that I was sort of fascinated by the feeling that I was wrestling with such a deliciously dangerous contraption — especially because all I’d ever used was a hand-push model. I also found the noise level strangely seductive, in the sense that I felt like I could roll along and say almost anything because the mower would drown me out — and that’s what got me into trouble.
As a young guy, I had been exposed to my share of bad language from a variety of sources, but I was way too straight-laced to repeat any of it in front of anybody. But as I walked along behind that noisy mower, I found myself strangely liberated, and every time I’d hit a stick or zing a piece of gravel into my shin I’d let loose with some choice curse words. After all, my uncle was way over on the other side (and had probably heard far worse, anyway) so I began to really enjoy myself. It became almost a game as I rolled along, blissfully spouting every raunchy word and phrase I had heard but never used out loud.
Unfortunately, my little game ended as someone startled me by tapping me on the shoulder. It was my mother, who had come by to bring us some lemonade, and she had a stormy expression on her face. Turned out the mower didn’t quite mask what I was saying like I thought.