It was a simple arrangement, one that both somewhat satisfied and somewhat annoyed the both of us; like almost everything in marriage.
We reached this agreement on the day we bought our lawn tractor. It all began shortly after she said, “Show me how it works.”
I told her no. I said the tractor was mine and I didn’t want her on it.
Okay, I admit it. It was a totally macho thing to do but I don’t care what anyone thinks. I have given up enough guy stuff in my life to earn back one little thing.
When I was single, I controlled what went into the refrigerator. I stocked it with only the essentials: beer and day old pizza. Now that I am married, I share the refrigerator, which means that it holds only skim milk, low fat Greek yogurt, asparagus and kale.
When I was single, I decorated my living room in minimalist style, limiting the decor to a not-that-badly-rotted couch and a TV. Now, I cannot tell you what my living room holds because the instant I get a grasp on it, it changes.
Like I say, I have given up enough ground, so I drew the red line of death all the way around the lawn tractor. It was mine and I was not going to share.
You see, I love that tractor. I love the reassuring drone of its engine. I love the gentle sway as it rolls over the swells in my lawn. I love nothing better than a cold beer on a warm sunny day and the rumble of my tractor puttering across a sea of green. We have ten acres, half of which is lawn, so there is a lot of time to love that tractor.
I know that acres of lawn is absurd. Everyone tells me so – but they have yet to see a kid backpedaling to catch a pop-fly across the green vastness of my lawn. Nor have they spent a morning strolling across a mist covered yard with a warm mug of coffee. Sure it’s silly, but I’m going to keep on being silly as long as I can.
But here is the problem….
When I left the gardening to my wife, I thought she would, you know, garden. Instead she gardens, as in the plural of the word and she does it everywhere. She has constructed an archipelago of gardens across my sea of grass. She has imported rocks to build shoals that extend long breakwaters of hedges into what should be clear sailing. She has done to my lawn what she did to my refrigerator and my living room. She has made it hers.
When I first objected to the obstacles she created for me to steer around – she just smiled that sly smile of hers and reminded me that the tractor was mine but the gardens were hers and because of that, I should steer my tractor around her gardens.
And as the obstacles grew, so did my grumbling.
Then it happened.
I hit the wire fence she had placed around a remote lilac bush. The rotors gobble it up and then not liking the taste, tried to choke it back up. The belts screamed and the engine coughed a cloud of blue smoke. I though my beloved tractor was having a seizure.
I took it into the shed, dropped the mower deck and began to unravel wire from the blades. After an hour, I called my wife out to the shed to show her the havoc she had caused.
“I told you where I put that fence,” she said.
“How do you expect me to see it in the tall grass?”
She just shrugged.
“You know what?” I said, “You need to appreciate what it like to mow around all that stuff.”
She just smiled that smile of hers. It is a grin I should have seen coming for a very long time.
“Show me how it works,” she said.