I like to pride myself on my many capabilities. As a woman in the 21st century I feel I am pretty well-rounded. I am educated in the text-book sense and also in the practical life skills sense. In college I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and learned how to use a drill, saw, hang dry wall, paint, and even use a hammer without bashing my thumb in. In Seminary I had a friend who worked on cars and learned some simple auto mechanics from him. I have held all sorts of jobs from ‘fruit smoothie’ maker, deli-girl, hotel clerk, nanny, insurance rep, to teacher’s aide. And yes, “fruit-smoothie maker” is as awesome as it sounds.
After marriage and figuring out our budget, and really looking at just how much things cost for a household, I set my goal to learn how to make almost everything from scratch. I learned how to bake my own bread, grow and preserve our own produce, even how to make pasta.
And when we bought a foreclosed home I got real good at spackling, and oh yeah, lest we should forget, I painted the whole house while my hubby was recovering from surgery.
All of this not to brag, (except for the bread baking, I am really good at that), but to say I feel like I have a wide breadth of many skills. I am capable and competent. Given a problem I can probably figure it out or learn how to, (oh ‘google’ I love you so).
Yet last night I was in my front yard cursing out our lawn mower and threatening it with a wrench.
You see, the hubbs is in Guatemala. No, I did not make that up because I like to say “Guatemala” with an exaggerated accent, though I do, it’s fun. He is leading a mission team of 19 other people to do some pretty amazing work down there. (And for those of you who have an antiquated sense of what ‘mission’ means, it does not mean going out to “save the heathens” or whatnot. It means we feel called to serve others to make the world a better place. While we do our service through the paradigm of Christianity, anyone/religion that chooses to serve others is worthy of praise.)
Ok, but back to me cursing. So things were a bit hectic before the hubby left. Lots to do in final preparation to take 19 people on an international trip. Which means the lawn did not get mowed. So I casually tell him not to worry about it, I could easily handle it.
Me and my stupid mouth. You’d think I would have learned by now.
Jacob has mowed the lawn 99% of the time we have been married. I did it once, 2 years ago, to ‘prove’ I could still do it. I could. And I felt that was enough ‘proving’ for me. I grew up mowing the lawn as a teenager and while I don’t mind doing it, Jacob has just always done it. Just like I am better at some things, Jacob is better with all things mechanical and maintenance. He even mows the lawn in that neat diagonal pattern for me!
I ignored the lawn for as long as I could. But it eventually started to look a little jungle-feverish so I decided it had to be done. I got my old sneakers and my work clothes on (bonus that I got to “dress” for the occasion!)
I remembered to move the ‘throttle’ to the ‘choke’ setting, pulled the string and BOOYA! It started. Great, the bagger was on, so I just decided to leave it that way. 3/4 of the way done with the front yard and the thing quit. It just stopped.
“Seriously?” I asked the lawn mower. It did not respond. I checked the bag, it was full. I figured that must be the problem, must have some auto-kill switch for when it gets to full. In a very un-ladylike manner I wrestle the bag off and empty it. Not wanting to wrestle the bag back on, I decide I’ll just leave it off. But that meant I have to remove the plastic tube that connected the lawnmower to the bagger. Ok, no problem, I take a look and see that it is bolted on in three places to the lawnmower.
“Seriously?” I ask again. Still no response, surly little bugger. I go into the garage, which I spend as little time in as possible because it is full of spiders and other bugs. And I know if I see a spider I will have no one there to kill it for me, and then I would die. Plain and simple.
I open the garage door, make eye contact with the tool box, and head directly there to grab some wrenches without making any glances left or right to look for spiders. Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes.
I find the wrenches, guess the correct size I need on the first try (score!) and I get the plastic grass tube off. BOOYA! “Take that lawn mower!” I say. But then I notice that while I got the grass tube off, I need to put the other guard back on. Because otherwise grass and rocks could just fly up and hit me.
“Well played lawnmower, very tricky trying to lure me into to using you without the guard, but I wasn’t born yesterday.” I find the other plastic guard and bolt that thing on like I was a professional ‘wrench-user’ or whatever you call it. I allow myself to soak in the glory of awesomeness that I feel. Then I reach down and pull the string again to start the mower.
And almost wrench my arm out of its socket. The pull string is locked or something. It won’t let me pull it at all. “Frik!” I look at everything I did. I notice that when I put on the other guard a metal lever of some sort got pushed to the side and there was a wire coming out of it leading to the engine. Perhaps it was a ‘trip’,some safety mechanism, and I needed to adjust the guard on the mower. I do so, and gently test the pull string.
It pulls! I get ready to do a victory dance. I reach down and yank the heck out of the pull string. Nothing. I pull again, harder. Nothing. I pull like ten more times. Nothing.
“Frik frik frik!” I yell. It’s now 9:30pm and getting dark. I gesture menacingly at the lawnmower with my wrench. “This is not over buddy, I can dismantle you if I want to!” I feel defeated, so much for me being a ‘capable modern woman’.
I go inside and take a bubble bath to recover. Bubble baths tend to cause one to examine one’s existence and existential purpose here on earth. Something about being afloat in a sea of bubbles makes it safe to truly contemplate life’s issues. I inhale the scent of vanilla and jasmine. I look around at my special shampoo I bought because it makes my hair smell good. I think about what scent of lotion I want to use when I’m done, ‘lemon verbena’ or ‘coconut’? I shake my head over the fact that my husband is still confused over why one would want to use lotion and what purpose does it serve exactly. I actually had to chase him down one winter and force him to put lotion on his hands, they were so dry they were cracked. And then amidst the bubbles I realize something.
I am SO ok with gender stereotypes (to a point). I’m ok being feminine and enjoying lotion and baking bread and avoiding all places where spiders might lurk. And I am so glad that I am married to a man who can literally build/fix/create anything with his hands. Even if those hands are dry and chapped. I didn’t ‘fail’ at lawn mowing. It’s just not my forte. Though woe be to any man who tries to mock me for my failed attempt at lawn mowing.
Hell still hath no fury like a woman scorned.
PS – The next night I figured it out, and finished mowing. The grass had jammed up under the blades so much it must have not let the mower start. High-fives all around!