My owner likes to tell people—oh, he tells them, all right, loudly and often—that he has me for economic reasons. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay $5 in gas to mow my lawn, he says. To other people he says he doesn’t like the fumes or the noise. But I know what it really is. He wants to be contrary. He thinks he looks good using me; he thinks he’s making some point about the horrors of the 20th century by dragging me across his lawn in front of the neighbors’ kids. My owner couldn’t go a week in the 19th century without getting scurvy or rickets, that’s how often he leaves the house.
And then he has the gall to admit right in front of me that I don’t cut as well as gas-powered mowers do; he says this to people he hires to work on the house, like he’s bridging the class divide by mowing the lawn himself without using a motor. He tells other people that he’s working on having the second-worst-looking lawn on the block. Ha ha, jackass.
Did I mention he mows in his bare feet? Idiot thinks he can build up his calluses this way, but I see him picking prickers out of the soles of his feet on the porch when he’s done. I don’t say anything about it; one day I’ll do more than prick him. I’ll turn and get his foot when he’s not looking, take off as much of him as I can. See how he likes that.
Still. It’s not so bad to be used. I’ve seen nearly all of my people carted off to the trash heaps to be burned, left in fields to rust and rot, strangled and strung up in museums. Someday they will cart you off, too, and the things of your life will be destroyed; or they will be bought by strangers who will erase the meaning you gave them and replace them with new meanings, perhaps ironic ones, safe in their mockery of what you believed because you’re gone and can’t fight back.
It would be better—at least it would be better for me—if it weren’t like that. If I could just be a lawn mower like I was before, not a symbol of a manufactured past. If my owner could have bought me just because he needed a lawn mower. I think my owner wants that, too. He really just wants to mow the lawn in his bare feet and have a dry gin-and-tonic while prying prickers out of his feeble calluses and be left alone. He does have some genuine affection for me. He likes how quiet and lightweight I am; he likes that I take up as much room in the garage as a shovel. Those gas-powered monsters are like cars now.
When the economy collapses and the oil runs dry, maybe I’ll just be a lawn mower again. But until then, I will be the past incarnate, blades whirling inches from your pink feet. The minute you stop thinking, there will be blood.