Time to mow again? Learn CPR first

image Men, now that spring is here, it’s time to start preparing for the very real possibility you will soon be neck deep in grass clippings. I know this because I received a Sears catalogue depicting what appears to be an all-American family taking time off from its busy modeling schedule to cook hamburgers on a brand new stainless steel grill large enough to accommodate an entire side of bull elk. As you would expect, children were in the yard squirting each other with water toys and running barefoot over a perfectly manicured lawn which, judging from the size of the family dog, must be self-cleaning. Mom was nearby, well oiled and laying on a lawn chair in her bathing suit, still recovering from her recent Victoria’s Secret lingerie shoot in the Bahamas.

Around the Hickson household, summer starts out a little differently. I was reminded of this yesterday as I stood in our back yard, waist-deep in weeds, swatting at a mosquito with a rusty spatula and trying to remember the last time I saw our hibachi.

“Do you think the grass is dry enough to mow yet?” my wife asked.

“It really needs one more day of sun,” I answered.

“Actually, I think it’s supposed to start raining tonight.”

I, of course, knew this already, which is why I’d like to submit the following performance to the members of the Motion Picture Academy for their Oscar consideration:

[Cut to: Close-up of Ned as he slowly turns toward the grass-covered window to meets his wife’s gaze. “You’re not serious, are you?” he says, watching as the yard sprouts a new dandelion. He lifts his gaze toward heaven and, with outstretched arms, hollars from between clenched teeth, “Please God! Just one more day of sunshine so I can CUT THIS LAWN!” End scene.]

Standing in front of our shed 30 minutes later, I realized — like a lot of men — I wasn’t prepared for the dreaded “First Mow” of the season. Aside from the fact that our lawn mower was buried beneath several layers of camping equipment and inflatable toys, I had a sneaking suspicion, once I dislodged the mower, I was going to find what was essentially a hardened glob of grass clippings with a starter handle.

And no gas.

And probably no oil, except for what was oozing out from under it.

Yes, our lawn mower is old. The last time I took it to the shop, a man at the counter (who I’m guessing repaired the first combustion engine) hobbled over, tapped my mower with his cane and said, “Well — That brings back some memories.”

This isn’t something you want to hear when it refers to an important piece of mechanical equipment you rely on to keep your spouse from wielding a Garden Weasel. While it’s true I’ve considered buying a new mower, I just can’t bring myself to spend that much money on something which, for all intents and purposes, I will eventually come to despise. Because of this rationale I found myself straddling the mower in the front yard, yanking on the starter handle and giving what would be the equivalent of CPR to a two-cycle engine with congestive heart failure.

“Spark plug! Starter fluid! Clear!”
Fwopp. Fwopp. Fwopp.
“More starter fluid!”
“We’re losing him, doctor!”
“I know that! Clear!”
Fwopp. Fwopp. Fwopp.
“He’s hemorrhaging, doctor!”
“Quick, another pint of oil!”
Fwopp. Fwopp. Fwopp…

I knew once I got it started, it meant a solid two hours of work. Or quite possibly less than 15 minutes, depending on how long took me to run over the hibachi. While I can laugh about it now, I wasn’t laughing last spring when I was blinded by a spark so intense it flash-burned the hair off my legs. The good news is that the neighbors who were unfortunate enough to be facing a window — any window — that particular moment regained their sight within a few days.

This still leaves me with a partially mowed yard and what is now a two-piece hibachi set.

So please, don’t looking for our family on the front of a Sears spring catalogue anytime soon.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Still looking for that perfect book for summer reading? Ned’s first book, Humor at the Speed of Life,available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: You should still use sunscreen when reading this book)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

54 thoughts on “Time to mow again? Learn CPR first”

  1. i happen to be in your league when it comes to mowing, so i understand this completely. it is always a hit or miss enterprise for me. mostly, miss.

  2. Gee, and I thought that was you all in those catalogues. Hilarious, Ned. 🙂
    I have a push mower, so I can avoid all that stuff and just relax from my tiring Victoria’s Secret lingerie shoot. 😉

    1. Yes, the thought of me in those ads is definitely hilarious 😉 By the way, if you happen to have a VS shoot on the central Oregon coast, I know a place where your push mower would be appreciated…

  3. Hi, Ned. It’s your 2nd biggest fan in Florida. Here, we girls hire someone to mow the lawn. Our guy shows up pulling what looks like a horse trailer and he has a riding mower that would be more appropriate for a stadium. Let’s just say I loved this post. You are so funny.


  4. Ha! Too funny Ned! Lawnmowers and I have a long and sordid history. When I want them to work they don’t and when I don’t want them to work, they do. Some years ago I boarded at a private home. Having worked all weekend I was sitting on the front porch having a beer one sunny summer Monday when I noticed the lawn need mowing. Being new there I figured I’d mow the lawn as a pleasant surprise for my land lady. I looked down the property line and spied a tool shed. Opening it up produced a lawnmower all fueled up – it started with one pull and I mowed the whole yard. With everything put away, I was having another beer when the land lady came home. She looked around in confusion and asked who mowed the yard. I cheerfully and proudly confessed and she asked how I got the lawnmower – as she unlocked the garage door and rolled it up to show a lawnmower sitting there. Taken aback, I stuttered that I used the lawnmower in the shed. Her next question was a hard one: “You mowed our lawn with the neighbor’s lawnmower?”

    I never lived that down – they still laugh at me when the topic comes up. 😀

    1. You are welcome to mistakenly use my neighbor’s lawnmower to mow our lawn any time, Paul. You’re also welcome to mistakenly drink their beer, too.

  5. Out here in carburetor culture, men love their lawn mowers more than our wives and children. So much so that it is not unusual to find a gift for the lawnmower under the Christmas tree and place set for it at the holiday table. We love them so much that we would never ask a mower to dirty itself with grass clippings, it is why corn grows right up to the house.

  6. I actually enjoy mowing the lawn
    It’s one of the few times I can zone out and leave the world behind.
    Which explains why my wife keeps losing so many flower beds…

  7. I have never actually mowed a lawn because I suspect it would go something like your experience. When we lived in our tiny townhouse with the teeny tiny yard, my husband used to use this non-motorized thing with rolling metal blades to cut our grass. He didn’t find this emasculating at all, and refused to buy a real mower despite the many times I told him it was fine with me to spend the money on it. HE didn’t want to spend the money on it.

    1. Nicole, there IS something hypnotic about the whir of those blades…

      Wha! Oh sorry, I drifted off

      For the record, I try never to use the terms “emasculated” and “mowing” in the same sentence.

  8. Just came out of the 94 degree humidity from mowing my dirt patch I have a 20 year old riding lawnmower and find myself engulfed for the most part in a cylcone of dust which proceeds to coat my neighbors homes in a light brown powder. I bought the machine to cut my 1/8 acre so I could A.) have a tractor which is pretty much every real man’s dream and B.) so I could spend more time with my son when he was young and then get out of the work myself when he was old enough to drive the damned thing. Amazing how long those things last if you only cut your yard about 3 times per summer. Suffice it to say, my neighbors hate me. Loved your blog….so timely.

    1. Haha! Yes, a big tractor and a big grill make the man. And between the smoke and the dust, it can drive the neighbors insane.

      Good plan.

      Thanks for reading, and good luck with that 1/8 acre!

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