When my neighbor gets ready to mow his lawn, mothers take their children off the streets and put them in front of the TV. They turn the volume up as high as is possible without doing permanent damage to their children’s eardrums. Walk down my street at this point and you will hear the muffled bass lines of the theme songs of “Elmo’s World”, “Jay-Jay the Jet Plan”, and “Dora the Explorer” and the sounds of one man mowing. For the first ten minutes, this sounds like any other man mowing, but my neighbor has a forgetful son. Despite specific instructions from the parents, this son leaves things in the yard. Sometimes, many things.
The gentle whirring of blades and humming of engine will invariably be interrupted by the telltale twack-twack-twack of an inorganic item meeting the twin rotating metal blades of a riding mower. Then there is a pause. The entire neighborhood holds its collective breath. Dogs stop barking. Birds stop singing. As surely as the sun rises in the morning, we all know what is coming next. My neighbor lets loose a torrent of curses that would put a blush on the face of a career Navy mechanic. These curses aren’t mumbled and incoherent like the ones spoken by the father in A Christmas Story; rather the elocution, enunciation, and projection would inspire all three tenors. The treetops shake with “sons of this” and “mothers of that”. Like fireworks on the Fourth of July, expletives explode above our roofs in dazzling variety, abusing our eardrums with the shockwaves.
The engine begins again. The whirring of blades and humming of engine return harmony to the world. We relax, but not completely. Until all the grass is cut and the lawnmower is returned to the garage, our hands will remain close enough to cover our children’s ears at a moment’s notice and our eardrums will remain clenched. He has a large yard.
Tomorrow: "Who's turn is to mow the lawn?"