When spring arrives, one of my home maintenance projects is to chop the five foot tall ornamental grass down to a stubble and haul way the blonde-colored stalks. Then the plant spends the next six months growing skyward. I suspect this landscaping item is actually a weed with a damn good marketing team. It has no purpose except, according to females and gay men, “it looks nice.” This patch of beauty grows thicker and larger after each annual haircut. The good news, if you can call it that, is that a section of the roots can be dug up and replanted in another area of the property. This spreads the joy and guarantees more work the following year. Yippee!
I use an ancient, heavy and loud electric hedge trimmer to get the job done. That does not make the job easy, just doable. The grasses are thick and uncooperative. To get the jiggerty-jaggerty trimmer blade as close to the ground as possible, I have to get into a squat. Getting down into a squat is no problem. Standing up after twenty minutes? That’s a different story. And it poses a serious problem.
Deep in the grass, there’s a large, hideous snake waiting for me. He knows after I squat long enough, I won’t be able to get away. Clever bastard. Mind you, I’ve never seen this snake. But I know he’s biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. So, I never let my guard down. Vigilance is the key to survival.
I finished my snake inspection and was getting down to the work at hand. The commotion attracted the interest of a neighborhood preschooler. He rolled up my driveway on his trike, dismounted and walked over to get a close look at the operation.
I turned off the trimmer and said to him, “Back up, Adam, you’re too close.”
He shuffled his feet a little.
“No, stand over here. I don’t want you near the trimmer. Yeah, right there. That’s good.”
I turned around and started cutting.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
I barely heard him over the whine of the trimmer. I turned it off. “What did you say?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m trimming the grasses.”
“They need to be cut down every year.”
“Because my wife says so.”
He nods. He has a mother and understands the power of women.
I turn around to go back to work.
“So what’s that?”
Off goes the trimmer. “What?”
“What’s that?” he points to the hedge trimmer.
“It’s called a hedge trimmer.”
“What’s it do?”
“I use it to cut the grass.”
“It helps me get this job done quick,” I said knowing full well that ship had sailed.
Back to work. I get six inches into the next cut.
“So do you…”
Off goes the trimmer. “Look, Adam, I have to get this job done and I can’t hear you when the trimmer is running.”
“Now listen to me. I can’t keep stopping to answer your questions. So you only have one question left. Okay?”
“Just one more, then I have to get back to work.”
“Ummm…” Suddenly, he was out of words.
“So, what’s it going to be?”
“Ummm…” he looked around and zeroed in on my house and pointed. “Do any grandparents live there?”
“No. It’s just Mrs. Fink and me.”
He nodded. “Well, that’s okay because you’re old.”
“No, I mean you’re really, really old.”
Now it was my turn to be out of words. I picked up the trimmer and went back to work on the giant weeds. I kept my head down and kept cutting.
With the interrogation session at an end, boredom quickly set in for the four-year-old.
“I gotta go,” he yelled over the din.
“That’s too bad,”
“Yeah.” And with that, he hopped on his trike and was gone.
A few days later, his Mom was pulling out of the driveway and I waved her down. I recounted the whole sad story. I guess I was hoping for a comforting comment like, “What does he know? You don’t look old at all.”
She took a different approach.
“What can I say? The kid’s keeping it real.” She laughed, rolled up the window, ripped up the street and left me in the dust.