I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won

I’m a bad housekeeper but my hubby is worse, or at least he pretends to be.

He messes up any attempt to clean–a crafty but transparent plot to avoid housework. Supposedly he can’t remember how to sort lights from darks, or that you’re not supposed to wash plastic bags in the dishwasher.

He can’t ever find stuff, either. “You keep changing where things belong!” he complains, like it’s my fault we’ve lived here six years and he still doesn’t know where the ice cubes are.

Eh, I forgive him. At least he works hard at his day job. In fact, he’d been working so much overtime he hadn’t mowed the lawn for a month.

I knew we’d either lose the dog in the back yard or we’d get another nasty association letter informing us we’d lowered our neighbors’ property values again.

So I decided to help Hubby out. After all, I’d appreciate him helping me out sometime, maybe by picking up his dirty socks, or by hanging his clothes on hangers instead of doorknobs.

Inspired, I studied the manual of our Honda mower (an excellent example of “How To” in an easy reading format) and pulled the machine out of the garage.

It started right up. Holding the manual between my teeth, I proceeded to mow the lawn. It turns out mowing is actually a lot like vacuuming, only you have to empty out the bag more often.

I was making neat little vacuum tracks on the lawn when all at once our little cul-de-sac became the most heavily traveled pedestrian thoroughfare in the county.

Several passers-by felt the need to stop and tell me either a) they thought it was great I was doing what my very lucky spouse should be doing, or b) they thought it was rotten I had to do what my no-good, lazy spouse should be doing.

I realized, wow, this is what dads everywhere experience when they’re caught changing their kids’ diapers in public. The insight kept me humble, so I downplayed my marital contribution by telling everyone my scheme about the dirty socks.

Despite all the interruptions, I finished and put the mower away. Then I had to figure out how to work Hubby’s precious edger, a monster with more gearshifts, levers, and knobs than a front-end-loader.

It’s his pride and joy, the biggest edger in San Diego. He bought it in Texas, where Real Men use weed whackers for whacking weeds, not edging lawns.

But the edger manual wasn’t written by anyone who spoke an Earth tongue as a first language. So I gave up on it and instead hosed the lawn clippings off the driveway and down the street to my neighbor Rita’s house. She always appreciates that.

I didn’t tell Hubby–I knew he’d notice my noble gesture on his own. A week later he did notice something. During every sprinkler cycle a geyser the size of Old Faithful gushed in the middle of our lawn, sending gallons of water down the street to wash grass clippings out of Rita’s gutter (something else she’d appreciate).

“How long has that been going on?” Hubby asked, pointing at the fountain in our lawn.

“I don’t know. Usually I sleep through the sprinkler cycle.”

“A sprinkler head’s missing. Did… did somebody… mow the lawn?

“Yeah,” I said proudly. “I did! No need to worry about it this week–I mean, last week.”

“You mowed off a sprinkler head!”

“Really? What was it doing in the middle of the lawn?”

His face showed a sudden alarm. “You didn’t touch my edger, did you?”

“No, I couldn’t figure it out, but if you showed me how…”

Please,” he interrupted, “no need to touch the lawn again. Damn! Now I have to replace that sprinkler head.”

Jeez. The way he was going on about it, you’d think he had to chisel melted plastic bags off the bottom of a dishwasher.

The Other Woman Is a Car

I’ve heard when men reach a certain age they become interested in younger women, new cars, and skiing. I even read something about such men trading in middle-aged wives for “two twenties and some change.”

I figure I’m safe because I’m only 39. If my hubby traded me in before I hit 58 he’d be arrested for consorting with a minor. So let’s move on.

Hubby got a new car. This is a special car… his first brand-new, sporty-type automobile. His last vehicle was an old pickup truck he owned for 15 years, two of which were spent on blocks under a peach tree in Texas.

When we cleaned it out before giving it away we found the keys to our first apartment and a newspaper with the headline: “Bush Hates Broccoli.”

The new car is an Audi with “Quattro,” a heavy-duty road traction option. He’s already discovered this nifty new technology will allow him to drive with a flat tire and not even notice, until people finally wave him down and shout things like “you’ve been driving on a flat tire at an extremely high speed for the last five miles, you dolt.”

I don’t like this car and am afraid to drive it. Its dashboard would give jet pilots instrument envy. It can go from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds, which my husband insists on demonstrating every time we get into the darn thing.

The first time we took a drive in it Hubby did about Warp 8 on the I-15 with the sunroof open and the stereo blaring “Wild Thing.” He leaned over and shouted “isn’t this great?” I couldn’t answer because the G-Forces wouldn’t allow me to do anything except show him my back molars.

For a man who struggles with issues like housework, Hubby certainly seems happy to clean his car. He vacuums it every day, whether he’s driven it or not. He spends two hours washing it every Saturday, whether it needs it or not.

My neighbor Sophie called to let me in on this.

“Bonnie, he’s washing that car again.”

“I know, Sophie.” Why does everyone think the wife doesn’t know?

“He’s touching that car again. He’s caressing that car again.”

“I know, Sophie.” I swallowed the lump in my throat as I tried to remember the last time he touched me like he was touching that car.

“Bonnie, you can’t let this go on. You have your pride. Get out there and fight for your man!”

Sobbing, I hung up. What could I do? That car was everything I wasn’t: young, fast, childless, breathlessly responsive, eager to go places, and she wore baked-on makeup that would never rub off on his collar.

Turns out I didn’t have to do a thing… the Audi hussy did it all for me.

She led him down the garden path at about 90 mph and he got a whopper of a speeding ticket. He spent a Saturday in the “Can’t Drive 55” School of Traffic and then paid a fine that would’ve put our two boys through college. He began to realize his car was a high-maintenance chick.

One Sunday afternoon clinched it. He thought he’d introduce the new mistress to his sister and brazenly took them for a drive on a back road. The hussy spun out and my husband was caught “en flagrante delQuattro.

I love that man and didn’t say a word when I heard about it. And I never will, either.

Unless he takes up skiing.

Baby Blues

About a year ago my neighbor Sophie called me up.

“I’m pregnant!” she announced excitedly. Before I could congratulate her she rushed on.

“You call your husband right now and tell him to come home. I want you pregnant by tomorrow morning.”

She has always been a take-charge kind of woman, but this was pushing it just a little bit. Continue reading “Baby Blues”

You Better Wave

There’s no better ice-breaker than moving into a brand-new housing development with ten other families.

It’s an instant, equalized community where everyone has exactly what you do: extreme mortgage payments, dirt back yards, and sheet/blanket/beach towel window treatments.

Our first summer, we held countless potluck barbecues in the cul-de-sac. While the kids played, we grown-ups discussed deep, soul-wrenching topics like, “Who Got the Best Deal on Their Floor Plan,” or “Who Spent the Most on Ugrades.”

It was our neighborhood’s honeymoon time. Continue reading “You Better Wave”