Thursday, April 20, 2006

#124 - Hail the Conquering Hero!

The gardener comes tomorrow.

I believe it happened when the neighbor's cat went missing. Normally this sort of thing does not invoke any real emotional response from me, except for the occasional snort as I attempt to hold back the booming guffaws just begging to come out. "Your cat, you say? Missing? [snort] [choke] [cough] Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that." But when the neighbor points out that, even were the cat alive, it would be impossible to see through the six foot jungle growing in my yard, I tend to pay attention.

The Woodyettes put the final stamp on the deal. They love to follow Daddy outside from time to time. They pretend to be Dora the Explorer carving a path through the trackless wilderness immediately behind our house. They followed me out a couple of days ago and had to send up signal flares so I could find them and guide them back to the house. Fortunately for me, I had been up on a ladder at the time, poking my satellite dishes back into alignment after they got sprinkled on a few days before. Made it easier to spot the flares.

That's when I called the gardener.

I've been meaning to do this for quite a while now. I simply have no time or energy to take care of a yard any more. (There are a number of reasons for this, none of which are important to this story.) Suffice it to say that I have not put mower to lawn once so far this year. And it's been a rainy winter/spring. To add to my stress, our community has rather tough standards about appearance and have been known to send me nastygrams in the past whenever I've let the mowing go for more than a month. There was only one thing standing between me and a professional service that would cut everything down and haul it away:

The phone.

Now, you have to understand that I consider myself to be a complete techno-geek. I adore anything and everything electronic. I have three home computers and my laptop from work, all on my wireless network (although the one desktop stays wired just in case). My wife and I have cell phones. The girls have walkie talkies with up to a three mile range whenever we go on adventures. In my TV cabinet I sport a reasonable 27" screen, satellite receiver, VCR, DVR, and wireless TV adapter so I can beam whatever is playing at the moment to our personal DVD player in our bedroom whenever Mrs. Woody gets sore and needs to lay down. I don't really need a new stereo because whatever CD I choose to play can be played on any of our computers, the DVR, the personal DVD, and/or the kids' mini-boombox. I have four remotes that are worked in various combinations depending on whether we're watching a DVD, satellite, or making DVDs out of our personal video tapes. The Woodyettes have two remotes. (No, Bob, you're not alone!)

But I despise the phone. I really have no idea why this is, and I'm sure there's counselling available for this problem, but I don't care. My phone is like Charlie Brown's kite, or Calvin's bicycle. It sneers at me every time it rings and knows that the call is for me. The phone is my enemy, and no amount of diplomacy will make me accept it as a functioning part of our family. Which explains why it's taken me nearly three months to call a service to come and make my yard look less like an abandoned homestead in Winslow, Arizona.

We had our taxes filed before the ink was dry on our W-2s this year, and the refunds were not terribly long in coming. Mrs. Woody immediately began a list. (I have mentioned Mrs. Woody's propensity for list-making before. They're worth their weight in gasoline, which is saying something.) The list included all the things we really, really need to do with this tax money this year. Mrs. Woody needed a new laptop to handle all the school stuff she's got planned. We desperately need a new bed because the current one keeps attacking Mrs. Woody. She keeps waking up with fresh injuries and I'm just afraid that one of these days some well-meaning member of the church is going to see one and report me to the Bishop.

We also need our dryer repaired. It went on the fritz about six weeks ago, and I have to keep sneaking over to use the dryers in our club house after dark. This is expensive because it costs $1.00 a load (quarters only!) and about $27.00 in gas to drive the 1/8th of a mile and back. It's also uncomfortable because the ladies who always seem to be using the Excercise Room at about that hour might get the idea that I'm stalking them or something.

And, of course, if we had any money left after all of that, I wanted to hire a gardening service. It's gotten much worse since we returned from vacation. I used our vacation as a mental balm to soothe my conscience. I reasoned that what with being sick on and off all winter long, and with the stresses of preparing to leave on vacation, that my lack of yard work was somehow justifiable. I felt that, if cornered by our community 'coon dogs, I could use those excuses to fend them off until I could gather my courage, dial a few numbers, and invite some quotes on getting our yard cleaned up. So, when we returned from vacation and found that, to my surprise and chagrin, the yard had not simply shrivelled up but had instead multiplied and replenished most of the earth and a few neighboring planets, I knew I had to act.

So, last Saturday I actually picked up a phone and grabbed the latest copy of the Pennysaver. I circled three likely looking numbers and then waited for the phone to dial them. When that didn't work, I actually dialed the numbers myself, and was surprised (not a little!) that I had the fortitude to actually call all three of them. I had to leave messages at every number, but that didn't really matter. I had done it! I had actually used a phone to call someone I've never before met and ask them to stiff me for every penny they can get! I was a hero!

I strode manfully into the living room and collapsed on the couch from the sheer exhaustion of it all. "Well, Honey, I did it." Mrs. Woody gave me that politely puzzled look she gives me whenever I say something for which she has absolutely no frame of reference. Did what, exactly? "I called a few gardeners to come give me a quote." That got the desired response. Her man had actually come through in a clutch situation. It was 4th down and long, and her man had just thrown a Hail Mary pass right into the arms of a waiting receiver in the end zone! And I don't even like sports metaphors!

"That's wonderful, Woody. Now we can get the house cleaned up enough to call the dryer repair guy."

Sure. But maybe tomorrow. Today I'm still exhausted from slaying the dragon.

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