A SPECIAL relationship exists between a man and his chain saw that is almost mystical in nature.
A chain saw gives a man a feeling of power and control. It is perfectly balanced. It has a pistol grip. It has a trigger mechanism. Its sharp blade gleams in the sunlight, all but crying out to its owner: "Hey, sport. Let's you and me go cut something down!"
Then with a mightly pull of the starter cord, the saw roars to life -- WHONNNNNKKKKK! -- and a man goes off happily in search of whole forests to defoliate.
Unfortunately, until recently, I had never experienced the joy that comes with terrorizing nature with a chain saw.
But I had heard other men talk in hushed tones about their chain saws. And I had watched them at work, cutting firewood or leveling acres of woodland, when the air was thick with the smell of testosterone, gasoline and sawdust. God, I wanted a piece of that action!
Then the other evening, an event occurred that was, in retrospect, my introduction to a whole new way of life.
A large tree fell on my house. The tree was at least 100 feet tall. Well, maybe 50 feet tall. Fine, it was probably closer to 25 feet. The point is, it landed smack against the roof and wouldn't budge, even after I sent my wife out to push it a few times.
My first instinct, as it is in all instances where home repairs might be needed, was to reach for the Yellow Pages.
I searched for a listing that said Guys Who Take Trees Off Your Roof. Then I had a vision.
In this vision, three young men with long, stringy hair, tattoos and packs of Marlboros rolled up in their Slayer T-shirts pulled into my driveway in a beat-up old pick-up.
"Cut that big tree down for you, mister?" they asked.
"Sure, boys," I said. "You seem like solid citizens. I'll get some iced tea."
As the vision continued, the three got out their chain saws. In 10 minutes they had cut down my tree. In another 20 minutes, they had cut up all the wood and tossed it in the back of their truck.
Then they knocked on my door and charged me $1,200, which they promptly divided right there in the driveway, chattering excitedly about investing the money in pounds of peyote and kilos of Moroccan hashish.
Thankfully, the vision was over in a few minutes. Then it hit me. Why, I . . . I could get a chain saw and cut that tree down myself!
True, I didn't own a chain saw. But I could rent one. Hell, you can rent anything these days. You could probably rent a laser-guided tracking system for an F10-11 Tomcat, never mind a simple chain saw.
Oh, sure, the odds were that somebody would lose a finger or a toe in the deal, with that somebody probably being me. But that's what they have reconstructive surgery for.
And at least I wouldn't have to fork over 1,200 bucks to some out-of-work Manson followers for a half-hour job.
So the next day I drove down to the tool rental center and asked about a chain saw.
"Is it a big job?" the guy behind the counter asked.
I looked around to make sure no one else was listening.
Then I whispered: "I'm having a little, uh, problem with a business associate. If you catch my drift."
That took care of any more nosy questions. Back at home, the chain saw roared to life -- WHONNNNNKKKKK! -- on the third pull. Boy, you talk about fun! It was every but as exciting as advertised.
First, with help from my neighbor Rich, I cut down the tree that had landed on the roof. Then I cut the tree into pieces. Then I cut those pieces into smaller pieces.
Then I wandered around the yard looking for things to cut down: redwood decks, utility poles, whatever was handy.
Finally, I went up and down my block with the chain saw roaring to see if anyone needed any yard work done. ("Cut down that 200-year-old maple for you, Mrs. Russell?")
Frankly, if I had night vision goggles handy, I would have kept cutting all night. That evening at dinner, I was still glowing.
"Why don't you buy me a chain saw for my birthday?" I said to my wife. "I really want a chain saw. All the other guys have chain saws."
"We'll see," was all she said.
That's the problem with that woman. It's always "we'll see, we'll see."
God, I hate that.