Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
As I kid, I hated doing yard work. I know this isn’t going to get me into any sort of exclusive club; you’re supposed to hate yard work as a kid. Hating it is as much a part of your job as DOING it. And then at some point you become an adult, possibly with a yard of your own, and you continue to hate it but pretend you don’t. Your lack of yard work hatred – in fact, your display of what appears to be enthusiasm – makes your kids hate it even more. Which is really the whole point.
Well, I don’t have kids, so I have no need to pretend. For the past 15 years my living arrangement has required me to do some regular yard work. Not much, and only in the summer, AND I didn’t have to be too meticulous, but still … I’d kick and scream for days before dragging out the mower. And even though it only took about two hours for a basic yard mowing, and it was only a few times a month, AND it wasn’t really all that hard, I hated it. I did it, but I hated it.
Hate. Ed. It.
It’s hard to sustain that sort of hatred for 15 years, but I did OK. Sure, there were times when the Zen of it all would creep in, when I’d find myself being calmed, nurtured or even inspired by the metaphor of weeding or pruning. I even recall experiencing something that felt a lot like satisfaction – that glowing sensation of a job well done – but this would quickly pass when it came time to fire up the weedeater.
There is nothing Zen about a weedeater.
Especially this weedeater – this hard-to-start two-stroke smoke-belching banshee was about as Zen as a yappy dog with an air horn. What is the sound of one hand slapping you in both ears? What do you think happens when a Grasshopper meets a weedeater? Exactly.
When we were packing up to move, just over a month ago, I opened the door to the shed and grabbed all my stuff from inside EXCEPT this weed eater. As I stared at it, propped in the corner, I realized then that this weedeater and I have a lot in common. When this machine needs to be fed more cutting line, you just tap in on the ground and out it comes, in a seemingly never-ending supply. I’m exactly the same way. Only not with string, but with hatred for weedeaters.
Ahhh, but in this new house, things are different. First of all, there’s exponentially more ground that needs to be weed-eaten. And this is my house. A house that I own. These are MY weeds. My previous house was fantastic, and I felt like I loved it as my own for all those years. Except that I’d never had my own house, so I didn’t know the depths of that kind of love.
And love can make you do crazy things. In my case, it made me excited to get a new weedeater.
Like weird excited. I spent hours online researching trimmers of all sort, hours that could have been much better spent on Facebook. I studied comparison charts, read reviews, sourced consumer reports and user feedback. If there was such a thing as weedeater porn, I would have watched it. Yes, I checked.
I finally settle on one that’s got some real horsepower and titanium-laced cutting line and apparently starts on the first pull and is sleek and well-balanced and aerodynamic and …
As the guy is loading the box on a cart for me he says, “Wow, you really went all out and got the best model, huh?”
Really. He said that!
Before opening it I took a picture of myself next to the box. I wish I was just making that up. But it’s true. I’ll email it to you if you don’t believe me.
I gas it up, and it starts on the first pull. No smoke. It’s loud, sure – but a nice, soothing loud. A cutting-weeds-that-are-mine loud.
And I weedeat. All day long … ahhh … yard work …
And do NOT get me started about my new chainsaw.
(Next time: Without any external prompting, Barry gets started about his new chainsaw.)
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