It's hard to coax a man inside for dinner when there is grass in need of mowing

June 09, 1996|By SUSAN REIMER

As I write this, my husband is cutting the grass.

As you read this, he is probably cutting the grass. Still. Or again.

At this time of year, my husband is usually always cutting the grass.

I am sure it is because the grass is growing, fed by melted snow and spring rains. I am sure it is not personal. I am sure he is not cutting the grass because that is the one place he is certain I will not be. Out there, cutting the grass.

I am sure it is not because he will never hear my voice over the roar of the lawn mower, calling him to dinner.

The grass appears to be most in need of cutting in the moments just before I put dinner on the table. Not just any dinner, but one of the three or four dinners we eat together as a family during any given calendar year. The one dinner I make every quarter or so that does not come from a large plastic bag from Sam's Club.

It is only my husband who cuts the grass. So I have to trust him when he says it needs cutting. If he says it is time to cut the grass, I cannot argue. I cannot push the lawn mower out of the way when I am trying to get an extension cord, so how would I know if it was time to cut the grass?

I could cut the grass if I wanted to learn. I don't. I learned to take the garbage to the curb, and look where that got me. Every Monday and Thursday night, that's me, taking the garbage to the curb. They are right when they say, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

If I learned to cut the grass, that might be me out there, cutting the grass. But at least I wouldn't be doing it just as I was about to put dinner on the table. That would be one advantage to learning to cut the grass. It would never conflict with the special family dinners I plan.

My husband is a friendly, neighborly kind of guy, but don't ask him to lend you his lawn mower. You can ask him to cut your grass, if you like. He would do it cheerfully. But, to be honest, I think he would sooner lend me out to one of the men in the neighborhood than lend his lawn mower. He says that if you lend your lawn mower, it will come back to you with the gas cap missing or a bent blade.

I have wondered if he has any theories about how I would come back.

There is another reason my husband does not lend his lawn mower.

"A lawn mower only has so many cuts in it," he says.

I have to remember to ask him how many cuts that is. I wonder how a man keeps track.

Does he take a jar and put a bean in it every time he cuts his grass during the first summer of his relationship with his lawn mower? Thereafter, does he take a bean out every time he cuts his grass? When the jar is nearly empty, does he know it is time to buy a new lawn mower?

Cutting the grass requires that you know something about spark plugs and gasoline. Specifically, it requires that you know when the spark plugs are dirty and when the lawn mower is out of gas.

Men seem to know these things about their lawn mower without gauges or little stickers on the windshield that tell them the odometer reading necessary for the next oil change. Men can tell these things about their lawn mower without hearing it from some guy with his name stitched on his shirt.

Such intuitive understanding of the parts of a lawn mower is no doubt the result of long hours spent cutting the grass.

If it weren't for me, my husband wouldn't have any grass to cut. It was my idea to sod the yard. It was not my idea to put down the sod on that really rainy day, when each of the sodden rolls of sod weighed about 100 pounds. But I didn't think it would hurt the rooting process.

Anyway, my husband apparently does not like putting down sod as much as he likes cutting the grass that results, because when he was done and he was wet and muddy and irritable, he wondered aloud if the neighbors would notice a 5-foot-9-inch lumpy spot in the yard.

My husband is different from other men because he likes to cut the grass. I am not sure why. For my husband, cutting the grass must be a state of mind instead of a mindless task. I hope that is true. I hope I would marry a man who could be so transported by solitude and not one who just really liked to cut the grass.

Our children are older now, and they require more of my husband's time on weekends. He coaches them in sports that he has not played or in sports in which he has never had success. I have suggested that he teach them to cut the grass. They would benefit from his example of patience in the face of such a numbing task.

Better still, I said, why don't you hire someone to cut the grass? We would have more time to do things as a family. Go out to dinner, perhaps.

He bristled at the suggestion. He was very offended. "How would you feel if I suggested that we pay some stranger to come into your kitchen and whip up a meal?" he asked.

"That's not a bad idea," I replied.

"We'd only need to do it three or four times a year."

Pub Date: 6/09/96

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