Friday, July 19, 2013

Tilt-a-Whirl Snapper

   "It's only two hundred dollars," my husband's voice echoed over the phone.
   "A lawn tractor for two hundred dollars?" I was in awe.
   "No, no.  Not a lawn tractor.  A Snapper."
   My brows furrowed.  About now the old advice of not getting something for practically nothing should have been throbbing through my head, but I'm full of eternal hope.
   "What do you mean?"
   I heard him sigh."You, know.  Like the old-fashioned ones with the motor in the back."
   "Oh. Well, how old is it?"
   His voice dropped a bit with irritation.  "I don't know.  Old."
   "Does it have a steering wheel?" Whining laced my voice and I tried to tromp it down.
  He took a deep breath. "No."
   "Does it have a key or is it a pull start?"
   "A pull start." His voice took on an irritated snap.
   I chewed my lip and ignored it.  "Can you come home and take me to see it?"
   "I can," his voice belied his lack of enthusiasm, "but then it'll be too dark to mow, and the lawn is getting tall.  If I buy it now, I can come home and be finished."
   Warning heeded.  "Okay, do what you think is best."
   I wandered the house in anticipation.  He seemed happy with it, so perhaps it was better than he let on.  It wasn't long before I heard him drive in.  I rushed out, anxious to see our new purchase.  He let the tailgate down and rumbled the thing to the ground. 
   Good grief.  It was a dinosaur. Literally. A triceratops lawnmower.  It was older than the hill, and I've heard that's dang old.
   I look up at him in disbelief.  "You bought that?"
   His face went still. "You don't get much for two hundred bucks."
  My eyes bulged and my lip curled. "Obviously."
  He shot me a bushel of optic knives and leaned over the contraption to give a pull on the rope.  It fired right up.  He hopped on and took off in mowing heaven. Loud mowing heaven. Extremely loud.
I crossed my arms and scowled.  If he thought I was mowing with that lawnmower prototype, he had another thing coming.
  And I put my sooty nose in the air and didn't mow for most of the summer. It was his own fault for buying such gross little turtle-like contraption.  I often peeked at him through the blinds, guilt gnawing at me.
   Because I scoffed at the thing for not having a steering wheel, he removed our old lawn tractor's, and placed it on that rattletrap.  Only the steering column was too short, and he ended up gripping the wheel hunched over between his knees.  Oh, yeah.  That's attractive. Picture a grown man in a battery operated Barbie convertible for children.  Uh, huh.  Only without the pretty pick plastic and Barbie stickers.
   But the day came that my husband had overtime, the lawn waxed long, and I, feeling quite remorseful at my pride, humbled myself and wrestled the red Triceratops from his resting spot amongst the spiders in the shed. I would do my duty.  I would climb aboard the most embarrassing form of transportation in the neighborhood.  I would sacrifice my pride for the sake of helping out.
   But first, I had to figure out how to do it.  I wasn't used to starting a mower first owned by Paul Revere. The throttled was broke, shocker, so I trailed the wire to the engine and found where to adjust the speed. An extra button had been installed, via the old man who'd suckered my husband into buying this piece of junk.  A label from a handy label-maker had been added.  'Out for on, in for off.'  Simple enough.  I turned up the throttle on the engine block, pulled the redneck button under the seat out, and tugged on the rope.
   The thing started first try. Hmmm. My low estimation of this hunk of iron elevated a fraction.  I climbed on.  It was sorta like riding a turtle, I surmised as I bent to grab the steering wheel.  I flipped on the mowing deck at my feet. Then I located the gear shift which, hard to believe, was a little obstinate. But my bicep bulged and I was off.
   Whoa!  It bounced me here, it bounced me there, it bounced me in a circle. It was a lawn mower version of Tilt-a-Whirl! I clutched the steering wheel between my knees as I tried to hold my balance, laughing so hard I couldn't stop.  Tears rolled down my face.  The more I tried to stop laughing at the entire situation, my silly posture, and the ridiculous swaying motion of the mower, the harder I laughed. I couldn't help but wonder what the neighbors were thinking of the weirdo mowing her entire lawn with her head thrown back in giggles. I was most thankful for my MIB sunglasses.
   I finally finished, and the yard didn't look half bad.  And just think, I didn't have to pay those outrageous theme park prices for a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl. 
   Looking back, I realize it's not so bad.  I still have it by the way. Heck, I still use it. Next time I'll have to tell you the story of how I cut too close to a tree and knocked the gas tank off.  It kept running until I finally realized I was dragging it and stopped. I had to reattach it with thick twine.  My bailing wire dad would be so thrilled at my innovation. But I killed a streak of grass where the gas spilled.
   Or perhaps I'll tell you about the time I filled it too full with gas, and since it has three punctures at the top, ( I know this shocks you) it spewed gas at every bump until the back tire was soaked and the gas level lowered.  Ah, yes.  Good times.
  But I remind myself of this.  If I mow with Tilt-a-Whirl Triceratops long enough, I might save enough money for a plane ticket to Hawaii. Huh.  Now who's laughing? Oh, it's me-again. 

Hey, wait a minute. You want to buy a mower? It starts right off.  It's not so good on the gas, but you'll more than make that up with your the savings at Six Flags.  Just a thought. Hope springs eternal!