Biggest Loser

I live in a nice neighborhood (now that we've moved.) I have nice neighbors. They have nice things. My things? Not so nice.

Take, for example, our lawn mowers. My neighbors don't even have lawn mowers. They have 'lawn tractors'. And I use the term 'tractor' only because that's what the dealer calls them. I call them BMWs for your yard. My neighbors lawn 'tractors' cost more money than my minitruck. I shit you not.

john deer umbrella fag
Lawn Tractor

When we first moved into this neighborhood late last year, we were mowing our 1 acre of yard with pushmowers. It was a lot of work, obviously, but moving is expensive and we had no spare money to go out and buy a lawn 'tractor'. In fact, we still don't.

The neighbors, seeing this, felt sorry for us. They offered to let us borrow their BMW, I mean, lawn tractor.

cadillac mower

I said they were nice. See?

Winter came and we didn't need to mow anymore. My brother-in-law, married to my middle sister, heard me talking about how embarrassing it was to have the neighbors feeling so sorry for us that they offered to loan us their exotic lawn sports cars. As it happened, my brother-in-law had an old riding mower that he no longer used. He had inherited it from his parents, who had been refurbishing it and using it for about 100 years or more. He himself had put a brand new motor on it when he got it. He said it worked fine. Plus, it was free. So we took it.

bike mower
Free riding mower

So now it's spring and the weeds are growing. Not in my neighbors' yards, of course, because they have a lawn service that comes and sprays their lawns to prevent the weeds. But apparently as we have been informed, the people who owned this house before us were trash, I mean, more frugal with their lawn care dollars than the rest of the neighborhood. They never, ever had anyone spray anything on this lawn and they never did anything themselves, either. So it's a green carpet of weeds and wildflowers, all mixed in with lovely bermuda grass. This means that my lawn was the first on the block to green up and need mowing. Yay me!

I took this greening as my first opportunity to break out my lovely new riding lawn mower.

I looked it over, got the jist of how it worked, checked the oil, filled the tank with gas, and began trying to start it. But it didn't want to start. Maybe I was doing it wrong? I worked on it for an hour or two. No luck. It won't start. I went inside and decided to read up on it and see if I could find what I might be doing wrong. I found nothing. So I went out again the next day to try again. For no particular reason, it started. But then, of course, it immediately stalled again.

"You bastard!" I shouted intelligently for the benefit of my neighbors. And back I went to fiddling with the engine before starting it again. This time it ran fine. Happily, I jumped on and put it into reverse, ready to storm out onto my beautiful 1 acre lawn of green weeds with enthusiasm.

Then I noticed that the front tire was flat. "Ahhhhh daaaaaaammiiitt!!!" Again, I shouted my intelligence to the world.

After much searching, I came to the inescapable conclusion that there is not a replacement wheel and tire assembly for my mower in all of Memphis. In desperation, I bought an innertube and jammed that into the tire. It worked, and I was able to pump it up and mow with it.

When my neighbors mow with their gold plated BMW lawn tractors, you can hear them start up their motors, with the dual overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder screaming carefully tuned notes of raw horsepower. They mow their entire yard in 15 seconds flat. You can see them flying around their houses, doing the front and back all in one giant circle of flying grass and fury. Some of them wear helmets and racing gear for safety's sake. One of my neighbors wears a full firesuit and has a rollcage, but his lawn tractor can cut 1 full acre in 5 seconds flat, so you know he needs the extra protection.

munster mower
The Neighbors' Lawn Tractor

My riding mower is a Snapper. It's got an 11 horsepower Briggs and Stratton replacement motor and the transmission slips. First gear just won't engage at all. No one knows why. My cats walk casually past me when I'm in the lowest gear. In the highest gear I am very nearly moving along at a reasonable pace, at about the same speed as I walk with my old pushmower. Ah, but I'm not walking, I'm riding. That's the beauty of it! Stylin' and profilin'!


But you know my life would not be complete without the regular doses of humiliation, right? Of course. So, as I rode around my lush estate-like lawn, cheap cowboy hat on my head, very nearly fitting in with the neighbors on my big red Snapper, something happened. Something went BANG. Something fell off. It was big and red and had a bolt hole on one end and an open ended pipe at the other. I looked at it and looked at the mower, but could not figure out what the hell it did to save my life. And the mower just kept going. It apparently didn't think it needed this thing, whatever it was. So on I went, hoping to God nobody saw that.

Later, as I rode around and around my house in the blazing hot sun, I made the mistake of stopping and putting the big red Snapper in reverse. It didn't do anything. I put it back into a forward gear. Again, nothing happened. WTF? I was just going along with no trouble a minute ago and now it won't go into gear? And of course this couldn't happen in the back yard, where no one would see. Oh no, it was dead center of my front lawn, and all the neighbors were out, quietly commenting to one another about my cheap-assed, slow-as-Christmas riding mower and my cowboy hat. And there I was, stuck for no apparent reason.

I shut off the blades and flipped the mower, still running, up onto its' side so I could look underneath and try to figure out what was wrong. I believe this was the first time I had ever actually looked under there to see how it all worked. The transmission looks to be nothing more than two old metal wheels rolling against each other with a little rubber on the edge for traction. They were all covered in dust and grass, so I brushed them off and flopped the mower back down again onto my foot. I tried to act like I was cool and not in any pain as I climbed back on and put it into gear again. Ah, blessed success!

On I went, mowing again, only now, because I had flipped up the carbureted mower and engine while it was running and filled with gas, it began to sputter and stumble. Now, not only were parts falling off my mower, and the transmission stranding me in the center of my front lawn, but the engine was sounding like something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The neighbors tried not to stare. I tried to pretend I didn't notice the sputtering.

And then, at last, and somewhat predictably, it just broke down. And it didn't just break down. No, it broke down dead center of my front yard, where the whole neighborhood could see. Again.

Here was my final embarrassment. Yes, because now came the part where I had to reveal just how old and low budget my new riding mower really was.

All my neighbors, when they climb into their exotic Ferrari lawn tractors, they flip a switch, turn a key, and ZOOM, they're off in a roar as the engine starts automatically for them. My Snapper? Not so much.

I had to climb off my mower and walk around to the back, where the engine is. There, sticking out of the side of my cheap old replacement engine, is a pull rope. Oh no, there's no starter. There's just me and the rope, standing in the center of my front lawn, in front of all my brand new neighbors with their shiny Formula One lawn tractors that do zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds, pulling a rope and cursing as I tried in vain to get my big red Snapper riding mower to start up again.

But of course it wouldn't start.

And so, like an idiot, I had to put it into neutral and push it around back to my shop to try to figure out what was wrong with it. It wasn't enough that I have a Snapper. It wasn't enough that parts fell off it. It wasn't enough that it stranded me in my front yard in full view of the entire neighborhood. It wasn't enough that I was forced to reveal the secret of my pull-cord engine. No, that wasn't humiliation enough for me. I had to endure the final humiliation, the pushing my broken down Snapper to the backyard in total defeat.

Oh, I'm making a BIG splash here amongst my new neighbors. Between my banana yellow hearse in the driveway, my flyers in their mailboxes for a missing cat named Spongebob Stinkypants, and my big red Snapper, you just KNOW they're all very impressed.

I'm The Shit.
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