Apparently my post of a few weeks ago about using games to get your kids to clean the house didn’t go over too well with a few readers.
Maybe more than a few of you. Child Protective Services wouldn’t tell me exactly how many complaints they got, but it was enough to trigger a warning letter and a visitation.
Nothing causes a pang of worry like reading a letter from CPS saying they have concerns about your children while said children are scrubbing the floors with toothbrushes under the impression that this will landsquid-proof your home.
Such correspondence makes you look around and see your home the way a stranger, a judgmental stranger with the power to take your kids away, might see it.
The interior, no big deal. Nothing a wad of cash thrown at a cleaning service can’t fix.
Yes, that wad of cash was earmarked for this month’s psychiatric medication, but I’m sure I can get by just fine without it for a while.
Turns out, actually, the wad of cash required to get the interior ship-shape is the size of all my money in one big pile.
In other words, EXPensive with a capital E, X, and P.
Leaving no wad of cash to throw at a landscaping service for the exterior.
This is a problem.
Now I don’t know about you, but during the winter, I don’t mow my lawn. The wet trimmings clog the inside of the mower and I have to keep reaching into it to clear them out.
Given that I’m allergic to grass and I’m also quite attached to my fingers (and want to stay that way), this can lead to unpleasant issues.
Besides, the lawn is getting constantly watered during the winter period, which encourages growth. If you come along and start mowing it, the grass is liable to get confused.
Does he want me to grow or not? Why water me if he’s gonna hack me up shortly thereafter? Is it possible we’ve been wrong all this time, and Ian’s a sadist?
That last question might be from the Missus – she talks in her sleep at the same time the blades of grass are conversing with each other. It’s very confusing.
So, during the rainy season, I adopt a live-and-let-live attitude towards the lawn, and maintain that attitude until summer.
Which means that right about when the weather is at its absolute, most unbearably hottest, I have to figure out how to cut down a lawn that looks more like an over-planted corn field bent on world domination than a suburban backyard.
If the corn stalks were twice their normal height and shockingly ignorant about personal space etiquette.
Given that it’s not quite summer yet, my backyard looks (or, I should say, looked) a mess.
Not something to make you all warm and tingly inside when you know CPS is coming over, no matter how many ASMR videos you watched before bed.
So this weekend I had to mow the lawn.
Lose my children, incur the wrath of the Missus, mow the lawn.
Unfortunately, I’d been a little lax on the laundry duty as well, and had been for over a week.
Well over a week.
Well over weeks might be more accurate.
Which means I’d already employed every stitch of clean clothing I owned at the office.
Except for my suit.
The one I was married in.
It hangs (or, I should say, hung) in a hermetically sealed case alongside the Missus’ wedding dress.
The case is made of gilded glass with bronze and gold trimming. We made it into a little shrine. With candles and incense and everything.
Well, until a friend said CPS might frown on that. Then we disposed of the candles and incense. But I drew the line at the spotlights. They stayed in place and on.
I’ve learned from past experience what a thirsty business lawn-mowing is. And being genetically disposed towards sunstroke and fainting, I knew I needed to stay hydrated for the colossal endeavor before me.
But the kitchen sink was full of dirty glasses and plates because I’d gotten a smidge behind on that too.
The only clean glass I could find was the last remaining clean brandy snifter.
I’d already used up all the paper cups in the house, as well as the wine glasses and coffee mugs, to support my Diet Tab soda addiction.
Hell, I’d even started drinking out of my cupped hands because the Missus had hidden that last snifter for an emergency.
Well, now we had an emergency.
On the plus side, I find the snifter lets my Diet Tab breathe, enhancing the flavor.
Why not drink it out of the can, you ask?
As if, heathen. But let me ask you this: just how am I supposed to get my frozen Diet Tab ice cubes into the can, eh?
That’s what I thought.
Now I’ve already mentioned my grass allergy. Turns out it’s not just my skin that gets all scaly when in contact with grass. It’s my lungs too. Which is why I wear a respirator when I mow.
And I’m a formerly scrawny, still very white guy who burns all too easily, which means I also wear a hat.
At least it isn’t a fedora, dude.
I looked into a space suit to wear during yard work, but those things are bulky, uncomfortable, and heavy. Not ideal at all for taking care of business around the house.
Expensive, too. Fortunately, CostCo has a very generous return policy.
The CPS letter put me in a bit of a panic, so rather than wait for some laundry, I broke out the last clean outfit I had in my possession and got to work.
Yes, I cracked open the Shrine. May the Missus forgive me.
Which explains the photo at the top of this article.
Now many of you are asking, “Ian, I can see the slacks, but why the jacket with no shirt on underneath? Why not just mow the lawn topless?”
The CPS officials certainly asked that when they showed up, unannounced, a week early.
As I was mowing.
The jacket is to protect my arms and back from the sun. I already told you I burn easily.
And I could hardly go to the store to buy sunscreen dressed like that.
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