When I announced last October to my friends and coworkers that on the previous weekend I had mowed for the last time that year, one of them had a question: How did I know?
The answer was so simple, I almost didn’t answer.
“Because I am not going to mow anymore!”
Apparently, he is of the aesthetic school of mowing which believes you mow in order to make your lawn look good.
It is leven such at this that is spoiling the loaf at NALM, the National Association of Lawn Mowers. NALM — and if you don’t believe me you can read its Facebook page--was founded to “help spread the spiritual, health, and aesthetic benefits of mowing both for the individual and the community.”
True, aesthetics is in there, but it’s only one thing among many and you might notice that it’s listed last. I can imagine a hard fought argument at the annual convention of NALM where during the wee hours of the morning at the closing session someone stood up and said, “But we can’t forget aesthetics...”
And after a groan, the phrase “aesthetic benefits” was wordsmithed in.
Those of us who are true believers know of mowing’s health benefits and live by its spiritual benefits. The fact that it makes your lawn look good is just an incidental vanity. This was all made clear to me last year when I was barred from mowing for the bulk of the season.
I’d gotten the mowing season started as usual and had already mowed several times when I had a (non-mowing related) surgery and was forced, by doctors orders, to turn the task over to my beloved wife.
This disturbed me because up until that point we’d divided up our household tasks in a very traditional way. That is to say, I did the mowing and she did everything else.
And yet there was no choice. My surgeon had forbidden me to pick up anything that weighed more than ten pounds or to sneeze (seriously!). For those of you who are practitioners of the manly art of mowing, you know both of those are required.
Thus I was sidelined for the bulk of the season.
This was a bitter pill. It was a hard thing for me to watch her mow the lawn in my place. She was stealing my raison d’etre, my very manhood. And besides, you really can’t see the yard all that well from the recliner in the family room, especially when the TV is on.
And yet, loving wife that she is, she did her duty. She mowed through June; she mowed through July; she mowed through August; and she was even prepared to mow through September, but I forbade it. I had to reclaim my spiritual salvation and my manly rights.
Besides, the weather was getting cooler along about then.
And so I started the season and finished the season.
Then we got a surprise visit from NALM.
I was terrified. NALM is like the IRS: It can’t actually police everyone, so when it catches violators it hits them so hard their grandchildren can feel it.
They walked around the lawn with little notebooks. They examined the periphery which I always ignore but for some reason my wife paid an inordinate amount of attention to. They interviewed a random sampling of the neighbors.
At the end of this process, they continued the accreditation of the lawn without comment. This is their highest rating. I was taken to the side and told that my lawn had never looked better.
No mention was made of my lawn’s spirituality. No mention of the health benefits for myself and my community. It was all about looks.
While I cherish the continued accreditation, I am disappointed that NALM seems to have lost it’s way.
Such is the way of the world, eh?
(Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. )