Sunday, September 09, 2007

Getting mowed down

When my buddy Don found out that my wife Kara and I were moving to a new house, he decided to get us a second-hand tractor as a housewarming present. “It’s from a friend of mine who lives up in the hills. He has all sorts of tractors sitting beside one of his sheds. I’ll grab one of them for you,” he said.

Having some experience receiving hand-me-down machinery, I was hesitant. A couple of years ago, my father-in-law inadvertently handed us down a snowblower that functioned excellently as a gasoline squirter. Now that I think about it, maybe I was supposed to burn the snow off the driveway.

The next week, Don smiled with satisfaction as he said, “I got a couple of nice tractors from my buddy last weekend. One of them doesn’t have any blades, and the other one doesn’t have any brakes. I saved you the one with no brakes. I gave the one with no blades to my buddy so his kid can ride it around the yard.”

I stared at him blankly, my spider-sense tingling.

“Oh, don’t worry. It runs nice and smooth. It came from Montgomery Ward’s,” he said.

“Don, I don’t know about this. I’m sure your friend Montgomery means well, but aren’t brakes kind of important?” I asked.

“Oh, no. You don’t really need them on a tractor. Just don’t take it on any hills,” he said.

I pictured myself slaloming around the neighborhood, children diving into the bushes as I tried to steer to where the anchor could grab hold of a tree. At the very least, I’d need to put a bumper sticker on the seat reading: “This Vehicle Does Not Stop. At All.”

When I told Kara about the snazzy piece of equipment that Don had retrieved for us, she said, “Please don’t take a tractor with no brakes. We don’t need another project.” This may sound like reasonable advice, but Kara doesn’t have a whole lot of credibility when it comes to lawn-related issues. Just about every person who gets stuck with mowing the lawn attempts to develop some semblance of an algorithm to keep grass going under the blades. Back-and-forth. Ever-shrinking concentric circles. Here is Kara’s mowing algorithm:

1. Aim for tallest clump of grass

2. Repeat for five minutes

3. Return mower to garage

When Kara gets done mowing, the lawn looks like a Gremlin’s haircut. But still, she was right about Don’s tractor. I just wasn’t sure how to best handle the situation, as he’d already gone through so much effort to do something nice for us. It was like when your cat offers you a dead bird.

Luckily, fate smiled on all of us, reaching down with its wispy fingers and snapping the front axle as Don was trying to put brakes on. If it had to die, at least it died with someone who truly loved it. The tractor is dead. Long live the push mower!

Since we still haven’t sold the house that we vacated earlier this summer, I’m now mowing both of our lawns with my trusty old push mower. I don’t go anywhere without it. It’s the Silver to my Lone Ranger, except Silver probably required less pushing and, I would suspect, preferred a less invasive refueling procedure.

With so much of my time spent mowing, I fear that I may be slowly and irreversibly turning into Groundskeeper Willie. It’s only a matter of time before I start pushing a cart around the neighborhood yelling, “Get your haggis, right here! Chopped heart and lungs boiled in a wee sheep's stomach. Tastes as good as it sounds!”

Until then, if you need me for anything, try looking on the lawn. I’m the one in the kilt.

You can hit Mike Todd with a tractor beam at


  1. I think you should buy a goat. hehehehehe

  2. Hey, that's not a bad idea. 'Cause the wife sure ain't cuttin' it. *rimshot*

  3. Poor Mike Todd. I don't think anyone loves you no more.

    'Cept for me.

    poor you.

  4. Say, I've always wondered what the dudes wear UNDER those kilts....

  5. Algorithm? What are you? A computer scientist?

  6. Okay, time to give Kara a break. At least she has a method. My own is:
    1. Look out window.
    2. See husband cutting grass.
    3. Think how THIS is how he spends his free time.
    4. Feel guilty.
    5. Go back to reading Gawker.

    I would have said 'hey' earlier, but I was busy trying to figure out Britney Spears. I think the answer is 42. I'll keep you updated.