The back and forth of it.

I cut my own grass, or else Alan does. Always have; probably always will, at least until we’re unable, at which point our problems will be more profound than a shaggy lawn.

Truth to tell? I kind of like it. Writers live in their heads way too much, and we’re always looking for stupid physical tasks to reorder things up there in our crowded skulls. As long as it’s not too hot and the lawn’s not too big, it’s a half-hour of back-and-forth mindlessness. I don’t get creative. No diagonal lines for me. Just cut the damn thing and have a beer — this I believe.

I grew up in an affluent neighborhood; our next-door neighbor was a carriage-trade OB-GYN, later replaced by a dermatologist. Across the street was a CEO of a thriving company. There was an OSU professor, a retired businessman, this and that from the middle to upper-middle class. The doctor cut his own grass, and the CEO delegated it to his teenage sons, but the job stayed in the family. Everybody cut their own grass, unless they couldn’t, at which point they hired a teenager to do it.

That was then; this is now. No doctor cuts his own grass anymore, and the CEO’s teenage sons are in tennis camp or SAT-prep classes. Most mornings I ride my bike through the lovely streets of the Pointes’ better neighborhoods, and I dodge pickups towing flat-bed trailers hauling mowers, blowers, trimmers and crews of Latino guys. They arrive, pull their starter cords in unison and, in short order and at very high volume, make the place lovely.

Granted, these folks generally have larger lawns than I do, and probably two high-powered careers, too busy to waste a Saturday morning doing yard work. They’d rather write a check than risk spilling gasoline on the driveway filling the mower’s tank.

After a while, these crews become invisible. They’re as much a part of the landscape as the lawns themselves. Someday I’m going to write a murder mystery where the lawn guys hold the key to the mystery, because they see everything and no one thinks they see anything at all.

I’m still cutting my own grass.

Want a good Google? Try “cuts his own grass.”

Bloggage: One of our best KWF seminars last year was on the brave new world of out-there reproductive technology, which Slate sketches briefly in light of the photo op last week by the First Embryo-cuddler.

I have no thoughts at all on the revelation of Deep Throat, other than it’s amusing to watch Pat Buchanan and Charles Colson get all spluttery ‘n’ stuff.

Posted at 10:26 pm in Uncategorized |

5 responses to “The back and forth of it.”

  1. alex said on June 1, 2005 at 8:30 am

    Santorum cuts his own grass�in several different fluff pieces, it appears. Yeah, I’ll bet he does.

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  2. ashley said on June 1, 2005 at 8:58 am

    Read “The Five-Bedroom, Six-Figure Rootless Life” in the NYT, and see what your neighbors do the rest of the time, Nance.

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  3. Richard N. / Toronto said on June 1, 2005 at 5:30 pm

    Nancy, I really liked your comment on the “invisible” yard crews. I commute, more or less, between Toronto and Los Angeles. When I’m “in” L.A. I’m actually in the affluent part of Orange County, and I remember how eyebrow-raised I was by all those trucks and crews. Nothing like that at home, for good or ill.

    Anyway, on an orthogonal tangent … a few years ago a senior Cabinet minister got himself embroiled in the worst kind of scandal – self-enrichment. The police investigation came to naught, but the government of the day (of which he was a member) put him out to dry – they struck a commission of inquiry (no equivalent in the U.S.; a commission of inquiry has subpoena power). The commission’s own investigators, a bunch of young lawyers, turned up all kinds of dirt – because they interviewed the minister’s receptionist and secretary – and they loathed him and were quite willing to say what they saw – but no one had asked!

    I will point out that Gosford Park has a subplot with the detective (played by Stephen Fry in blithering-idiot mode) ignoring the evidence offered by the “invisible” servants.

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  4. mary said on June 1, 2005 at 8:54 pm

    I grew up in a middle class suburb in NJ,and the only household that didn’t cut its own grass was the home of a reverend who lived across the street. Every week two parishoners would show up and cut the grass etc. Everyone else, regardless of income level, cut their own grass. My dad, who always wore a grey felt fedora, wore his “old” hat for grass cutting. I was shocked when I moved to LA and was bombarded with business cards of gardeners. I couldn’t imagine having a gardener. I still don’t. I have sons.

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  5. cc said on June 2, 2005 at 11:55 am

    Santorum, Grassley, and Santorum all do it–but YOU are the first listing for “cuts his own grass.”

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