By Viv Sade
I don’t like doing the dishes. I abhor vacuuming. But I do enjoy yard work and sometimes mowing the lawn.
I used to force my kids to do it, but I never really trusted them. They ran over and cut off everything that was green, including daffodils (“Did you not see the yellow flowers at the end of the green stems?!”), moss-covered rocks and the garden hose — three times.
I tried paying some muscle-bound 8-year-old who knocked on my door $5 to do it. He said, while qualified and capable of doing the professional edging and landscaping I was demanding, that type of expertise would require union-scale wages.
The $5 bill was not going to cut it.
The last decade or so my husband has done the mowing, which is one of the reasons I married. I kid, I kid. But this year, I’m thinking I need the exercise and maybe we could trade off — the laundry in exchange for the lawn. But to be honest, I fear it might be the death of my whites and delicates.
Men think of mowing the lawn as their duty, a masculine obligation. Doing laundry might be viewed as emasculating.
Who made these rules, anyway? Did Eve point to Adam’s fig leaf (once he finally started wearing one) and say, “I’ll wash that thing if you will just take out the trash?”
Males also expect accolades any time and every time they’ve completed a task. When a man gets done mowing, he wants people to stop and admire his work; he wants the area roped off and declared the eighth wonder of the world; he wants to hire a tour guide to lead throngs of admirers through the precisely edged and clipped lush lawn.
Women don’t have time to list all of the things they get done in a single day, let alone expect applause 24/7. Women don’t even expect kudos when they give birth, and if there was ever a feat worthy of recognition, well, that’s it.
Men even mow differently than women. Males are more precise and tend to mow in geometric squares, taking care to mow in the exact same direction each time they make a turn.
Women are more imaginative, even if easily distracted, and apt to mow in zigzags — “Oh, there’s Doris, I must go ask how her mother is doing,” — or intricate circles — “I think the family could use a meditation and spiritual labyrinth,” — or by cutting an uncanny likeness of Bradley Cooper in the front lawn, leaving space to place a reclining lounge chair on his pecs.
Which is exactly why men can’t watch women mow or they will hyperventilate.
Men like to fill the gas tank before mowing so they don’t run out of gas. Females like to run out of gas so they can stop mowing.
Men prioritize differently than women. They do not shut off the mower every time they see a garter snake, to answer their phone, to check out what the neighbors are barbecuing or to take their kid to the hospital. They are disciplined.
Women will shut off the mower for any given reason, and then flood the engine when they try to restart it, necessitating the need for a wine and chocolate break at 10 in the morning.
Men mow the lawn wearing only a pair of skimpy cut-off jeans that they outgrew in 1982 and no one bats an eye.
If a woman takes off her shirt and wears skimpy shorts to mow, crowds gather, cars crash and worlds collide. Sometimes, law enforcement gets involved.
Males will not, under any circumstance, deviate from their normal, male-patterned mowing practice. They frequently mow down 20-year-old prize-winning rose bushes, 6-foot chain link fences, the kiddie pool and any and every snake they see.
That being said, there are exceptions. I once knew a man who left course, mowed through a stone driveway and clipped a path to a nearby liquor store because it was hot and he needed a cold one. Now.
Females mow around everything, including dandelion fluff, small children, a robin’s egg that fell from a nest and Aunt Edna, who came to visit in 2012 and will not leave.
This is the perfect analogy of why we need more women leaders in the world: more peace, less death.
One day, while I was doing some creative mowing, some random motorist in a double cab truck stopped to shout at me.
“Lady, you need to mow in strips, not Xs and Os. You’re ruining the lawn! You crazy?!”
I yelled back that it was not Xs and Os, but a diamond, heart, club and spade.
He drove off, saying something about “not playing with … full deck,” whatever that was supposed to mean.
— The author is eagerly anticipating the warm, lazy days of summer, not mowing the lawn or doing the laundry and to frequent midmorning wine and chocolate breaks.