It was the sweet, yet somehow guilt-ridden aroma of fresh-cut grass wafting from my neighbor’s yard that inspired me to uncover the mower and plot a course for adventure last weekend. Though I knew my decision would alter the course of an entire ecosystem that had evolved within our front yard over the past month, I had nothing but the best of intentions when I set out to cut the grass last on Saturday.
Keeping in mind Murphy’s Law says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, those of you who experienced a problem-free day of activities on Saturday can thank me — because Mr. Murphy spent the day at my house.
Given the fact that any yard hazards (dog bones, garden hoses, hibachis, small bicycles, etc.) had long been swallowed by what appeared to be grass genetically altered to grow at the speed of light, there was no small amount of trepidation in my hands as I unscrewed the gas cap to check my fuel supply.
And, of course, the tank was empty.
After a trip to the bank and a draw against the mortgage, I filled the gas can and returned home even more determined to accomplish my mission. As the sun approached noon, I curled my fingers around the pull cord and made the first of 50 yanks on my E-Z Start Mower until finally, on the 51st attempt, the rope snapped.
I wasn’t particularly ready for this when it happened.
So when my arm continued backward, the rest of me went with it. Fortunately for me, an English walnut tree was there to break my fall. As I slid down the tree trunk and face-first onto the grass, I was reminded of how much I hate walnuts. I rolled onto my back and lay there for a minute, still clutching the rubbery pull-cord handle while staring up through the grass at the sky, contemplating my next move.
I would disassemble the mower and reattach the cord.
Honestly, how hard could it be? If I could fix my daughter’s “See-And-Say,” which is basically the same thing (just turned sideways and with animal noises), surely I could fix this. Things started out harmless enough: three small screws around the outside of the compartment that housed the pulley. I removed them, lifted the cap off and peered down at what appeared to be a rather simplistic mechanical configuration thingy. Centering the pulley was one large bolt, which probably threaded itself into the motor somewhere (I’m still not sure). I adjusted my crescent wrench onto the bolt head and turned it — just a little at first.
Then a little more.
A little moooore.
Until I felt the bolt completely strip out. At which point I realized the bolt actually threads backwards.
It wasn’t over yet, I assured myself, and retrieved the Weed-Eater from the back porch. It would take longer, and look about as choppy as a hair-cut from a barber school dropout, but I would get the grass cut.
Feeling more than a little satisfaction knowing that Murphy had met his match, I raised the Weed-Eater and pressed the trigger, listening to the solid “whirrrr” of fishing line slicing the air — then watched as the spool shot off like a rocket launcher, still whirring as it disappeared somewhere between Nopal and Bay streets.
I stood there with my Weed-Eater, which had gone from whirring to whining to screeching, and relented.
So, to my neighbors: I promise to get things spruced up by this weekend. To my kids: I’ll find your bikes soon. To my dog and cat: Stick together and you’ll be safe.
To everyone else: Any chance you’d be willing to entertain Murphy for me this weekend?