exercise: N 1.13

draft 2:

N exercise 1.13 draft 2
Mow Low, Sweet Chariot
Logan Bright

For years I cut the grass with my old push mower, which squealed and screeched despite all the oil in Kuwait. At last, it broke beyond repair, and I was faced with a dilemma. Could I really make the switch to an electric? On the first day of spring I brought the ailing mower into my workshop and tinkered. The blades were dull, and its creaking unending. By the time I’d put hours into its repair, the old thing was worse off than when I’d started. At dinner that night, dishearted, exhausted, I caught sight of a flyer that would change my life forever.
A VG-522, with twin-exhaust and a thirst for premium diesel, on sale at CanTire for way below half-off. When I first saw you printed in that glossy photo spread on the flyer’s cover, my heart twinged, and I reflexively covered the ad with the rest of the paper. My wife, alert as a squirrel, saw me, and chittered about “too much money” and “why don’t you fix your beloved push mower for Pete’s sake.” I went deep red and kept my eyes from hers, feeling the warmth of you coming off the flyer, permeating the stack of worthless newsprint atop it. The glossy photo of you, smiling.
I had to have you.
CanTire was bustling with people but I didn’t see them. Only you, in shiny, cherry red, with your plush black patent-leather captain’s chair, your Brazilian rubber tires. Headlights like the eyes of some eager puppy-dog. I stood admiring you for many minutes, before a salesman sidled up, his sandy mustache gone to grey.
“Bud, you’re gonna love this mower,” he said. And I did. Fanfare filled my ears as he rattled off the list of specs, highlighting this feature and that. I was sold. I got you home and mounted you under a full, golden sun.
You were glorious – you mowed faster than God. I zig-zagged all over the lawn, leaving darker stripes and light, like the groundskeeper at a major league stadium, lost in the artistry of your dance. You hummed happily under my weight, and your captain’s chair was heaven on my behind. The thrum of your motor felt like the purrs of affection of a beloved house-cat enjoying its morning scratch. My wife watched from the window as you and I yelped and yahooed our way across the grass at first light, again at dusk, and whenever I could squeeze in some mower time. The old push mower went to rust in the garage as I polished you to a shine after each mow.
The first day of summer, though, I came to realize that you had some problems of your own. Your unquenchable desire for diesel, so evocative of raw power and capability when presented in the flyer, sent me to the gas station with jerry can after jerry can. My wife complained that I reeked of an auto shop. My credit card strained under the force of the gas, and the Sunoco attendants on every shift came to know me by name. I’d stop in for a can or two on my way to work, slip home to fill you on my lunch break, only to find you thirsty still. Another two cans on my commute home, only just enough to satisfy your evening cravings. The whole thing again the next day.
And then there were the breakdowns – the sputtering, rage-inducing, why-won’t-you-work breakdowns. First it was just a click, a little ‘pock’ noise when I started you up – soon you were fuming with a greasy purple smoke whenever I came near you. I wept many a frustrated tear at work in your Byzantine insides, your mechanical guts mangled by my inexpert hand. I called technicians and mechanics, and they’d set you on your wheels again, until the next calamity.
Soon, my home was overgrown. Thick weeds in all colours sprouted up through my once-beautiful green lawn. The clipped, manicured parcel of grass came to be an untamed jungle full of plants and beasts unknown to science. I left you in the dark of the garage, to gather dust. Each particle that settled upon your scuffed red chassis magnified my guilt. I heard your soft, rumbling voice reproach me as I sank into sleep each night. My wife chewed me out about our unruly lawn.
So here we are.
I’ve tidied you up, with a clean, soft rag, shined your captain’s chair, polished your dual chrome exhausts. The final technician in an endless parade has come and assured me that you’ll run all right another day or two, at least. I’ve taken photos with my phone from every angle, catching the sunlight glinting off your happy crimson curves. I’ve written a poetic blurb that felt more like a eulogy, extolling your many virtues, concealing your vices. My wife has shown me how to post all this, these photos and words, on the web. Replies from prospective buyers have already started to feed into my inbox. In fact, a nice guy from Wynona is coming for a look at you today. I’m sure you’ll like him.
I never thought it’d come to this, but you’re on Craigslist, and as much as it pains me to admit it, so am I. After a wracking night of soul-searching I put the words “push mower” into the search box. The results were astounding. After the Wynonan comes to see you, I’ll be taking a look at some push mowers myself.
I’m sorry it had to come to this. I hope some day, when you’re mowing that green lawn somewhere in Wynona, you’ll understand. And as I gently push my mower back and forth, I’ll think of you and smile.


Logan Bright

 

N exercise 1.13
For years I cut the grass with my old push mower, which squealed and screeched despite all the oil in the world. At last, it broke down beyond repair, and I was faced with a dilemma. Could I really make the switch to an electric? On the first day of spring I brought the ailing mower into my workshop and tinkered with it for hours. Still, the blades were dull, and its squealing never-ending. By the time I’d put hours into its repair, the old thing was worse off than when I’d started. At dinner that night, exhausted, I caught sight of a flyer that would change my life forever.
A VG-522, with twin-exhaust and a thirst for premium diesel, on sale at CanTire for way below half-off. When I first saw you printed in that glossy photo spread on the flyer’s cover, my heart twinged, and I reflexively covered the ad with the rest of the paper. My wife, though, quick as a squirrel, saw me, and chittered that “it’s too much money” and “why don’t you fix your beloved push power for Pete’s sake.” I went deep red and kept my eyes away from hers, feeling the warmth of the flyer permeate the stack of worthless newsprint atop it. The glossy photo of you, smiling.
I had to have you.
CanTire was bustling with people but I didn’t see them. Only you, in shiny, cherry red, plush black patent leather captain’s chair, Bolivian rubber tires. Great big headlights like the eyes of some eager puppydog. I stood admiring you for many minutes, before a salesman sidled up, his sandy mustache gone to grey.
“You’re gonna love this mower,” he said. And I did. Fanfare filled my ears as he rattled off the list of specs, highlighting this feature and that. But I was sold already. I got you home that afternoon and mounted you under a full, golden sun.
You mowed faster than God – you were glorious. I zig-zagged all over the lawn, leaving darker stripes and lighter, like the field tender at a major baseball stadium, revelling in the artistry of the dance. You hummed happily under my weight, and your captain’s chair was heaven on my behind. The thrumming of your motor felt like purrs of affection from a beloved housecat getting its first morning scratch. My wife watched from the window as you and I yelped and yahooed our way across the grass at first light, all through the spring, and again at dusk when I could squeeze in some mower time. The old push mower went to rust in a corner of the garage as I polished you to a shine after every mow. I well remember those halcyon days of lawn control.
The first day of summer, though, I came to realize that you might have problems of your own. Your unquenchable desire for diesel, so evocative of raw power and capability when presented in the flyer, sent me to the gas station with jerry can after jerry can, such that my wife complained that I smelled of an auto garage. My credit card strained under the weight of the gas, and the attendants on all shifts at Sunoco came to recognize me by sight. I stopped in for a can or two of gas on my way to work, slipping home to feed you on my lunch break, only to find you thirsty still. Another two cans in on my commute home was only just enough to satisfy your evening cravings, and the whole cycle began anew the next day.
And then there were the breakdowns – the sputtering, angry, why-won’t-you-work breakdowns. I cried many a frustrated tear tinkering with your Byzantine insides, your mechanical guts mangled by my inexpert hand. At first it was just a click, a little ‘pock’ noise when I started you up – soon you were fuming with a greasy purple smoke whenever I came near you. I called technicians and mechanics, and they’d set you on your wheels again, for a few days at least, before the next calamity.
Soon, my home was overgrown. Thick weeds in all colours sprouted up through my once-beautiful green lawn. The clipped, manicured parcel of grass came to resemble an untamed jungle full of animals and plants unknown to science. I left you in the dark of the garage, to gather dust, each particle settling upon your scuffed red chassis magnifying my guilt. I heard your soft, rumbling voice reproach me as I sank into sleep each night. My wife became upset about the unruly lawn.
So here we are.
I’ve tidied you up, with a clean, soft rag, and shined your captain’s chair, polished your dual chrome exhausts. Another technician in an endless parade has come and assured me that you’ll run all right another day or two, at least. I’ve taken photos with my phone from every angle, catching the sunlight glinting off your happy red curves. I’ve written a poetic blurb that felt more like a eulogy, extolling your many virtues while concealing your vices. My wife has shown me how to post all of this stuff, these photos and words, onto the Internet. Replies from prospective buyers have already begun to feed into my inbox. In fact, a nice gentleman from outside of town is coming to look at you today. I’m sure you’ll like him.
I never thought it’d come to this. But you’re on Craigslist, and as much as it pains me to admit – so am I. After a wracking night of soul-searching I put the words “push mower” into the box and pressed ‘search’. The results were astounding. After the out-of-towner comes to see you, I’ll be taking a look at some push mowers myself.
I’m sorry it had to come to this. I hope some day, when you’re mowing that green lawn somewhere outside of town, you’ll understand. And as I push my gently-used mower across the lawn, back and forth, I’ll think of you and smile.


Logan Bright

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