Friday, June 18, 2010


Reality is starting to sink in.

In less than four weeks, barring any weird unforeseen termite-inspection-related catastrophes, I will be a home-owner. This fact is intimidating and terrifying enough on its own, but I'm starting to realize some of the repercussions of my actions.

It's just beginning to dawn on me that owning a home means that I also own the land my home sits on. I am about to possess my own little square of Rock Island. In a primitive way, this is pretty cool. Me have land. My land. Mine, not yours. "This land is yoooour land, this land is myyy land." No. That land might be your land, but this land is MY land so step off. It's empowering as heck. There's just one teeny problem -- I now have to care for that land.

I have lived 39 years very strategically. Some may argue that I've coasted my way through life to avoid any sort of mental or physical stresses. I would argue this point. While it's true that most of my life is spent either slouched at a desk or lying on a couch, it takes WORK to achieve a level of slothfulness such as mine. You can't just say, "I'm going to lay around all day and do nothing." In order to be really successful at inactivity, one must have an action plan.

For instance, I have made it thus far in life without ever having cut a single blade of grass. I honestly don't know how one mows a lawn -- but I've seen it in the movies and frankly, it looks unpleasant. How did I escape lawn-cutting chores as a child? By employing my strategic action plan of inactivity.

As you may know, I grew up on a farm. Wait, scratch that -- my parents did not "farm" and I think it may require the verb farm in order to justify the noun farm. My folks weren't farmers, but they just kinda liked the idea of living in the middle of nowhere. So my dad took a 50-acre parcel of land that's been passed down in our family and built our home smack in the middle of it. And when your yard is farm-sized, mowing the lawn becoems an all-day affair.

We didn't have a lawn mower. We didn't even have a lawn tractor. We had a TRACTOR tractor. A full-sized, gas-guzzling behemoth that my dad attached mower blades to. And every week, the family would go out on an all-day mowing binge. And by family, I mean my mom and dad. I'd be inside performing any necessary video-game-playing and/or MTV-watching chores.

One day, my folks decided it was time to pass the tractor-driving gauntlet my way. This was kinda cool in a way. I mean, what kid wouldn't want to be behind the wheel of a blade-spinning, exhaust-spitting monster? Still, learning to mow = having to mow and that's no good. So on my first lesson, I did what any uncoordinated nature-shy cybergeek would do: I got flustered and drove the tractor full throttle into the side of my dad's shed until both tractor and shed were mightily damaged. Shockingly, my folks never asked me to mow again.

Yet now here I am with my very own lawn and a now absolute and total lack of knowledge of how to mow it. Happily, my new lawn is infinitely smaller than that of my parent's house, but I still have no clue what I'm doing.

The thought of having to mow in the first place just irks me. What are we paying our nation's top scientists for if not to invent grass that stops growing at a given height? Come on. This is the 21st century. We're supposed to be technologically above all this. You never saw George Jetson mowing a lawn.

Look at corn. Agricultural geneticists have spent billions of dollars perfecting today's corn crops. You plant them and they grow. At some point, they stop growing, out pops the corn, and we reap the harvest. We don't have to mow the corn to prevent it from ascending to the heavens. Corn is smart. It knows when to stop growing.

Grass, on the other hand, is stupid. You cut it and it's like, "What the...? Guess I'll just have to grow some more!" You should be able to buy grass seed that sprouts, grows to exactly 1.5" out of the ground, and then stops to enjoy a leisurely life of photosynthesis and oxygen production.

No such luck, so I figure I've got a shortlist of options at this point. They are:

(1) Pave the entire lawn. Nothing says home-sweet-home like an expansive blacktop slab. Just ask a skateboarder. Wait, if I paved my entire yard it'd be like an open casting call for skater punks to loiter about, wouldn't it? And if one of those dudes fell down and broke his coccyx while doing an inverted backside 540 McTwist off my siding, I'd be sued seven ways to Sunday. Hmm...

(2) Build the world's biggest deck. One that wraps around the whole house and consumes most of the yard and hence the yard work. So if anyone wants to come and build me one of those for free, step right up. Note: I prefer the kind WITH a hot tub.

(3) Scour the neighborhood for Little Timmy. Every block has to have a Little Timmy, right? There must be an enterprising sucker (cough) I mean SWEET LITTLE KID who owns a push mower and needs extra change for the ice cream truck, no?

(4) Grass won't grow if I cover every square inch of my yard in lawn ornaments. If there's one thing I love, it's the pageantry and magic of a good ol' Civil War re-enactment. So why not simply replicate the entire Battle of Gettysburg on my front lawn with concrete gnomes? At Christmastime, we could dangle lights off 'em and -- presto -- they become Santa's elves. It's a win-win. Now to convince my girlfriend...

(5) Speaking of which, perhaps I should just remind her of a conversation the two of us had when I was wavering over such a huge decision. I believe it started with me going, "I dunno, if I buy a house, that means loads of yard work" and HER going, "I tell you what, if you buy this house, I WILL DO MOST OF THE YARD WORK FOR YOU." And now that sentence is in print in a major local publication, which is pretty much the same thing as a legally-binding contract, I'm fairly sure.

(6) Give up and look to the heavens for help, and that was clearly the best answer... because when I did that, I looked up and saw the state of my gutters and that made me forgot ALL about the lawn. Gulp. I need an action plan.

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