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a little snip here....

I want a nice lawn.

No, I want a fantabulous lawn! One that is green, lush, beckons you to place your tender bare foot on its soft, velvet grass... What I actually have is somewhat of a cross between a furrowed field and bombed out Beirut, currently being overrun by a creep named Charlie, but does show some promise in the front yard (if I could just get rid of the thousands of dandy-lions prancing about).

I've inherited from my father the Anal Lawn Gene, which requires that I know such things as:

(1) First take two laps around the outside of the lawn (this is where you turn around). These laps should be with the clippings being shot TOWARDS the center of the lawn. Not shooting out to the street, or along the sidewalks, or at the house.

(2) Mowing should be done SLOWLY. If you're traveling a bumpy trail at warp speed the mower will "jump" - so will the blades. This means you will miss cutting parts of the lawn leaving you with a choppy haircut.

(3) Grass should be clipped between two-and-a-half and three inches in height. Scalping the lawn is not pretty. Sure, if you hit dirt it'll probably be another six weeks before the grass grows to a height requiring a subsequent trim, but for those six weeks the lawn will be U-G-L-Y.

I have many other lawn-care requirements (when to sharpen blades, alternating cutting in columns, rows and diaganols, etc.) but I can save those for a rainy day. My point now is to say that the Big V has not, does not, and will not prescribe to the above Lawn Commandments. Much to my delight, this means lawn care is left in my hands.

Considering Cletus the Fetus has taken much of the space my lungs would normally enjoy, not to mention draining me from pretty much every ounce of energy I may have once drawn from, pushing a non-selfpropelled ancient lawn mower around for two hours is not quite the aphrodisiac it once was. The Big V performed the first cut of the season proving to me that the only choice I now had was to pay for the outside services of lawn care.

Enter my brother.

Ah, yes. What a choice that was. I don't want to get into too much detail, but to quickly bring you up to speed this is the brother who brags about all the work he does, but spends so much time bragging he doesn't actually have any time to commit to the work itself. He used to drive a semi truck, but hurt his back and now can't. So he decided to start a lawn mowing service. (Don't get me started on how much more comfortable a lawn mower is to the heavy duty air ride seats of a Mack Truck...) Considering all he had on his calendar was to sit at the local bar monitoring his hoochie-mama girlfriend while she was working her shift as the popular beer disperser to ensure she didn't forget she was in a committed relationship and accidently go home with one of the better tipping patrons, I figured he had enough time on his hands to cut one lousy lawn.

I called him on a Wednesday, grass up to my knees, to see if he'd be a good fit. Yep, he assured me, he's as anal about his lawn as it sounds I am about mine. Yep, he continued, the lawn would be cut once a week and all clipping removed from the site. Yep, he convinced me, he'd do it right away.

Three sunny days later I called him up. Well, it was Saturday and he was busy with the hoochie... so, maybe Sunday... which happened to actually be Tuesday. Forty minutes later the hay field was cut, but his weedeater stopped consuming the weeds. Big V loaned him ours (which he still has in his custody) to finish the job. But it needed string which my brother went to get but never came back. The weeds continued growing. So did the grass.

A week later I called again: "So... my lawn's getting pretty long...." But he was busy. Doing who knows what. Seriously. He isn't employed. He should have lots of time on his hands. Nine days from the last cut (did I not specify once a week? A week is seven days people, not nine!) the lawn sat untouched.

By now I was experiencing heart palpatations every time I turned the corner to our house. I drove in shame as I imagined my neighbors with their trim greenery shaking their heads. "I know I can have the best lawn on the block! Trust me!" I wanted to scream.

Last night was the ninth day. Lawn untouched. My unemployed brother was busy. Again. This time clothes shopping for his six day trip to Vegas. He was leaving in the morning. (Who goes to Vegas for six days?! It's not like you're going to be taking historic tours all week.) This news meant two things to me: (1) My unemployed brother has more money than I do. And (2) my lawn would not be cut for at least seven days. That's a total of 16 days between cuts, people! Unacceptable.

I gathered my baby bump, threw on my sneakers and ordered the Big V to start the push mower! (It's too hard for me to start. Believe me, I have tried.)

After ten minutes or so a neighbor came driving by on his used Murry rider, complete with sign "$250 or best offer" attached. Proving the thing can cut grass he hopped right up to our lawn and started cutting away - not in the nice, straight lines I was doing, but in these wavy, curly, swoop arounds that made me just about pick up a stick and hit him in the head. But it did cut.

"What do you think?" Big V asked.

"I think I'm hormonal and uncomfortable and I think I hate my brother."

"No, I meant about the rider for sale."

"I don't care. Look, it's obvious I can't count on my brother. It's obvious I can't cut it. And it's obvious you lack the appropriate skills to mow the lawn my way - so let's get the rider. BUT - tell him $200 cash now is the best offer. Not a penny more. Not a single cent. Tell him all we have budgeted is $200 and we can't eek out another penny. Got it? $200 MAX. If he doesn't want it - walk away. We don't need it."

I spied on them as they were man-talking in the back yard. The doofus neighbor pointing out this and that. The Big V, arms crossed, shaking his head, looking very authoratative. I was so proud of my crappy lawn mower fiance! So he can't cut a lawn worth a darn - look how he was taking control.

Eventually my seething anger over my can't-depend-on brother, the non-selfpropelled push mower, and the fact that I can barely bend down and tie my shoes anymore wore off. I decided to wander to the back yard to see what was going on (and to get my boyfriend to stop yapping and finish up this lawn).

I met the doofus neighbor who shook my hand with his puffy, sweatty, boneless hand... (you know the type of hand - it's squishy, with no internal form whatsoever. So icky.) He told me how his wife is expecting too... yay! (Please don't let this mean we're going to be friends squishy-hand man) So we chit-chat about how his daughter's name is Ireland and her initials are I.R.S. and when he brought his taxes in he said, "And I brought the IRS with me!" and they said, "What?" And he said, "The IRS - My daughter's initials are IRS!" And we all had a good laugh over that. Twice. Because I guess it was so funny he felt the need to repeat it ten minutes later just in case we didn't fully appreciate the humor the first time around.

Eventually I managed to locate a break in his non-stop banter to announce, "I better get going and finish this lawn if I ever want to feed my kids. Nice meeting you."

As I was walking away I heard Big V say he should probably help out... to which the doofus neighbor replied that no problem, whenever we can get the remainder of the money to him that was ok. He understood about having to budget money.


I waited until doofus left to attack, uh, I mean, approach Big V.... To summarize the negotiations:

Big V: We'll give you $200 cash. Not a penny more.

Doofus: But we're poor and my wife is going to have a baby.

V: I talked it over with the lady of the house and all we are able to spend is two hundred.

D: But my house is in foreclosure and I'm on disability and don't work.

V: oh... I feel bad for you. Ok. Full asking price it is.

I think I should just be glad that Big V didn't offer MORE than asking price. What a haggler. But at least I have a rider now and can mow the grass just the way I want to.


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