July 25, 2003
I live next door to the house with the worst looking lawn on the street. Youd think it was something to get mad about, but I find its both a blessing and a curse. Its a blessing because no matter how bad my lawn looks, it still looks better than the neighbours. Its a curse because there isnt much of a motivation for me to make my lawn look much better than it does.
Even though I grew up in the burbs where my parents had a big lawn that earned me the princely allowance of five dollars a week to mow, I never acquired the feeling of pride that comes from a well-kept yard. Maybe its because I still remember all those stumps I had to mow around, or the horror of running over the dog deposits hidden in the lawn.
Ive even thought about taking the lawn out entirely and replacing it with a rock garden, except Im worried the rocks would probably go brown and wilt from neglect.
Even so, during the Canadian growing season (the last week in June to the first week in August) I dutifully get the lawn mower out every week or so to cut the grass before aliens decide to land and make crop circles. Last week I must have been a little slow getting around to it, because I came home to find my wife pushing the old toe-whacker around the lawn, and doing a fine job of it.
As a progressive man of the millennium, Im the last to suggest that mowing the lawn is mans work. I believe that if women insist they should be entitled to do any of the crummy jobs that have traditionally belonged to men - if we can con them into doing them. Still, seeing her out there mowing the lawn gave rise to a host of unexpected emotions. The first was shame. Not shame that I had let things get so bad Indiana Jones would have trouble getting to our door. Shame that the neighbours were witness to my groundskeeping inadequacies.
It might have been different if she had decided to only mow the back yard, which is frankly worse than the front. We dont just lose stray baseballs in the back yard grass - we have been known to lose whole little league teams. But there she was cutting a swath through the front yards underbrush in plain view of my amazed neighbours.
They havent treated me any differently yet, but I know I have gone down in their estimation. I think Im now ranked slightly below the guy down the street who can be heard constantly yelling at his wife. (For the record, she yells back pretty good too.) I know theyre thinking how can a man who isnt able to mow his own lawn be able to keep his wife happy, if you know what I mean.
Im hoping they think I have some sort of debilitating condition that prevents me from doing any yard work. Subconsciously I find Im sporting a fake limp when I get out of the car in the driveway and waving bravely at any neighbours watching me for signs of malingering.
Of course I complimented my wife on a job well done on the lawn. She said that she quite enjoyed it and would be happy to mow the lawn again. Now Im stuck with a dilemma - should I get back my pride and resume my rightful but miserable manly job of mowing the lawn, or am I able to con the neighbours with a fake limp until the fall?