“Here’s the thing.” Andrew Jackson leaned back in his chair and looked up at the leaves that were just beginning to bud on the oak trees in the backyard.
“If I had a better lawn mower, then I would be more inclined to mow the lawn which would keep the yard looking neater and more like the neighbours’ yards. We’d fit in better. People would accept us as members of the community.”
Rose didn’t move in her sunny spot on the lounger next to him. “You should definitely get a new lawn mower,” she said. “It would be so nice if people stopped treating us like pariahs because our lawn, which nobody can see because of the hedges, is sometimes too long by an inch or two. Maybe people would talk to us on the street and invite us to parties and things.”
“Goodness, I hope not,” said Andrew. “I have enough things to worry about without having to make up excuses not to go to parties. I’m just saying a nicer lawn would make people look at us differently and a better lawn mower would help us have a nicer lawn.”
“And I’m saying that getting a better lawn mower might be good for our social life,” said Rose. “So get a better lawn mower.”
“Howdy neighbours.” A head appeared above the hedge on the west side of the yard, a few feet away from the Jacksons’ chairs. John Thompson, the next door neighbour, spoke with a smile, his unruly white hair framing his bearded face. “How are the Jacksons this lovely day?”
“We’re fine,” said Andrew. “Just at the moment we are having a fight about why we should get a new lawn mower. I say we should because our nosy neighbours will think better of us if we have a nicer lawn.”
“And I say we should, because if our neighbours think better of us they might invite us to more parties,” said Rose.
“Which would be terrible,” said Andrew, “but possibly unavoidable.”
“Well,” said John, “this kind of incessant noisy bickering is certainly not going to improve your reputation among your nosy neighbours, of whom I count myself one. What’s wrong with your old lawn mower?”
“It’s a very unpleasant shade of blue for one thing,” said Andrew. “Also, it requires three pulls on the rope to start, which is two pulls too many in my books.”
“Three pulls does seem excessive,” John agreed. “I used to have a lawn mower that would sometimes start on the first pull and sometimes on the 30th. It was very unpredictable.”
“One of the things I have found,” said Andrew, “is that an argument about why someone should get a new lawn mower is very rarely won by a neighbour leaning over a hedge offering irrelevant facts about lawn mowers they may or may not have owned in the past.”
“Oh, I definitely owned that lawn mower,” said John. “I remember the day I took it to the dump. I loaded it in the back of the half-ton and drove to the landfill and when I got there I opened the tailgate and then I backed up really fast and hammered on the brakes and the lawn mower rolled right off of the truck bed and went tumbling down the side of the garbage hill. If it hadn’t taken a small chip of paint off of the tailgate as it went, that might well have gone down as the best day of my life.”
“You clearly remember it fondly,” said Rose, “but that’s no reason to burden us with the story. I don’t see how it helps us with our dilemma.”
“It doesn’t,” said John. “Speaking of lawn mowers though, I understand that the Japanese have developed a robot that looks like Keira Knightly, whoever that is, that you can program to give you a back massage and then to go cut your grass while you have a nap.”
“Well kudos to them for having their priorities in order,” said Andrew, “but I’ve always felt that the technological superiority of the Japanese is undermined by the fact that the best they’ve been able to do in the area of eating utensils is two slightly tapered wooden sticks. I mean really. If they just took four of those sticks and duct-taped them together at the thick end they’d have a fork.”
“Good point,” said John. “I think you should get a riding mower,” he added. “Anyway, I have to go get bedding plants now. Nice chatting with you though.” He turned and disappeared behind the hedge.
There was a brief silence.
“People shouldn’t be able to talk to us over our hedge,” said Rose. “We need a taller hedge.”
“Or we need shorter neighbours,” said Andrew. “The riding mower was a good idea though.”
“Agreed,” said Rose.
“Dilemma solved,” said Andrew.