Had you seen me, ’round about six o’clock in the evening on Sunday, heading in the general direction of the People’s Lawn Tractor with a gas can, some matches and a distinct air of purpose about me – well, no one would have blamed you for feeling a little uneasy. That vague sense of foreboding may just have gained some urgency, if you were told that just minutes earlier, I had been studying intently a page on the Internet that used words like “fire”, “explosion” and “gasoline.” Let’s face it, there’s a certain gleam that a man gets in his eye when he’s fixing to blow something up, a gleam that you would recognize instantly though you’ve never seen it before.
Here’s the thing: Spouse, Furious G and I have been residing beyond the borders of little Juniorvania for about a month, or rather we had been away, living at my parents’ place, up until Saturday afternoon. The reasons for the exodus are complicated, but boil down to the serious strain placed upon the People’s Treasury as a result of paying for electricity to heat the house when it gets cold outside, which is “always” on account of Juniorvania’s extreme proximity to Canada. Accordingly, the People’s Department of Public Works, Heatery and Assorted Mechanicals contracted with an external provider to bash a bunch of holes in the walls of the house, install duct work and hide the workshop by placing a giant furnace on it. This arrangement, of course, has caused the People’s Treasury to ratchet up the level of complaining to “jet engine” volume levels, as the People’s Minister of Finance is incapable of understanding how such an enormous expenditure could ever “save” money, and is instead convinced that this is all some sort of preposterous and grotesque joke perpetrated at the expense of his fragile nerves and anxious bowels. In the silver lining department, however, this hugely destructive and horrendously unaffordable and unsightly project brings a bonus: air conditioning!
Where was I? Oh yes, explaining how Spouse, The Boy and I made like Jed Clampett and Clan, packed up the truck and moved to Beverley in order to avoid being demolished along with the walls and ceilings. Did you know that walls and ceilings are highly offensive to HVAC contractors? Well, based on the nature and extent of the destruction I have seen, I can only assume that walls and ceilings have an unfortunate habit of making intemperate comparisons between HVAC contractors and uncouth and unattractive individuals with small penises, because the walls and ceilings really do seem to take a walloping from these fellows.
Our month long banishment from the premises thus allowed the stainless steel behemoth to take root and grow within the house; outside the four (or fewer) walls of the house, however, also growing and taking root was an enormous rainforest where the front lawn used to be.
Now, I don’t want to say that the lawn was a little overgrown, but just this past weekend, scientists discovered three heretofore unknown species of snake, two tribes of nomadic peoples and a dinosaur roaming among the densely packed vegetation on the front forty.
The lawn needed to be cut, but this was not going to be just any mowing; in musical terms, whereas the usual lawn mowing is a three-chord doo wop tune, this particular excursion was going to be a Wagnerian opera with a side discharge chute. There were many technical problems to be confronted – how to keep the engine from stalling when asked to chop down the giant trunks of the grass trees, how to illuminate the path of the mower (with the dense canopy of the lawn blocking out the sun from above), how to keep the Operator’s beer cold for the prolonged Mission time – but chief among these worries was the Problem of the Clippings.
When you cut large amounts of long grass, you create a commensurately large pile of clippings on the lawn, which pile must be moved, because if you don’t move them then you have essentially just piled a bunch of dead stuff on your (now shorter) lawn, thus depriving the living part of it entirely of sunlight and making the whole damn thing dead.
Complicating the problem, it’s been raining continuously here since August 6, 1942, so the clippings were a little wet. Huge piles of wet grass clippings that need to be moved by means of manual raking means that the People’s Lawn Tractor Trailer must be utilized. Patience, I’m getting really close to explaining the bit about fires and explosions and such now.
The trailer was banished outdoors from the relative safety of the garage this past winter, and there was one casualty: the left tire on the People’s Trailer lost the bead on its rim and came up flat. The bead needed to be reset, and the tire re-inflated.
Like any reasonable person, I turned to everybody’s most trusted technical advisor: random and completely anonymous people with no verifiable credentials whatsoever. They taught me this trick:
I didn’t have ether, so I used (a VERY little bit of) gasoline instead. It took three attempts, but each one featured a very satisfying “thwumpf” sound, and enough of a fiery flourish to excite all but the most finicky of pyromaniacs. Still have all my limbs, didn’t set the house on fire, and did not launch any exploding fiery wheels through the upper story windows of the house either. Time elapsed: maybe five minutes (including time required to fill a really big bucket with water as a precaution measure, lest there be any unfortunate incidents).
Trailer’s working like a charm.