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Mortimer Snert and the Lawnmower Wars

It was a herbicidal day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert went outside to check the condition of his lovely weeds/yard. He had taken to doing this on a regular basis because of the season, which was spring, and with spring in all of it’s springishness, came April showers, and April showers brought May Flowers, and May Flowers brought Pilgrims in droves, complete with weeds, rats, sheep and other assorted atrocities. And where Mort lived, it had been raining pretty much since April, which was several months ago. Not raining constantly, mind you, but enough that even with intermittent days of lovely sunshine, the ground did not dry out enough to cut the weeds down before another onslaught of rain. In addition to all this, Mort absolutely despised cutting lawns, no matter if they were weed infested or not. He had a long and sordid history with lawnmowers, and with renegade lawns, and had finally given up on trying to have decent looking grass.

So it was, when we initially look in on Mort, that his weeds are almost as tall as he would be if he were half as tall as he were. Tall enough that no normal lawn mower would suffice to be able to deal with them. And certainly tall enough that Mort’s remaining lawnmower would not deal with them. Now we must point out that he used to own 2 separate lawnmowers, just for such occasions, however, the one that was able to deal with the huge weeds succumbed to a broken crankshaft the previous season when Mort was out back cutting weeds, and cut merrily across a discarded automobile jack that one of his lovely neighbours had pitched over his back fence, causing the lawnmower to launch itself into the air and spew broken metal parts in several directions. This disturbed him to no end, he was quite fond of this particular machine, well, as much as one could develop an attachment for a mechanical device, and he hated to see it go in such a manner. But truthfully, the thing was almost as old as he was, and was quite obsolete, and worn out, and used about as much oil as it did petrol, and when he would run it, it would emit huge choking clouds of oil smoke, cause dogs to howl and children to run for cover, and exterminate mosquitoes for miles around. So it was with great respect that Mort retired this machine to the great secret place where all worn out lawnmowers go, the gully in the south 40 at the farm.

This then left him with the other lawnmower, which was indeed quite a bit newer and much more environmentally friendly. It was also a rear bagger, which completely eliminated any chance of cutting down anything taller than, oh, say, 3 inches, and getting away with it without having to stop every 5 feet or so and empty the bag. Especially if there was any moisture involved at all. So he was left with no choice than to resort to cutting the grass with the Weedeater. Which was certainly not his first choice, but which had happened on several occasions previously, and would certainly occur in the future. Now the Weedeater that Mort owned was a bit of an industrial one, intended to be able to cut weeds for days in a row. It had a bit of a huge engine for a device of this nature, and sprouted dual strings out of the business end. When used with the engine at speed, this machine would essentially vapourise the weeds where it contacted them, launching the tops in several different directions, and essentially filling the air with atomized weed sputz. It also had the tendency to hurl large chunks of undigested weed stems right at Mort’s legs, and although he was always safety conscious and wore heavy jeans and boots, he would always end up with vicious bruises from where things contacted him at great velocities. So it was with great trepidation that he donned all the prerequisite safety equipment, Levi’s, boots, long sleeved shirt, respirator, safety glasses and gloves. The only thing missing were the hearing protectors, which were in the great secret place where all hearing protectors live, the third shelf from the top in the pantry. The type of hearing protectors that Mort had settled on were the muff style, which fitted securely over one’s head and clamped with viselike force over ones ears. This prevented anything from entering the protective area, noise, dirt, angry insects, and yes, even oxygen. So the last thing before adventuring out into the great weeded unknown was the hearing protection. Wading into the pantry and dislodging his 2 teenager cats, he grabbed the hearing protectors, separated the muffs in preparation of installing them over his head, and was met with a rather forceful snap, and was left holding two separate pieces of hearing protection, the oh so stout plastic band which had previously connected the two muffs having quite failed and presenting Mort with yet another broken and useless device with which to contend. So without much ceremony, he deposited the broken muffs in the great secret place where all broken things of that nature go, the trash can on the landing.

Having done so, he was now presented with a predicament, he was not about to go outside with the Weedeater and no hearing protection, the thing was wicked loud, and he was already suffering a bit of hearing loss from attending one too many Ted Nugent concerts in his youth, and he did not have another suitable pair of muffs, his David Clarks having disintegrated from old age, so he was forced to locate a set of the kind of plugs that one jams inside one’s ears. These were located in the great secret place where all things of such nature live, in the front pocket of the Kevlar motorcycle jacket. Dredging out a suitable pair of these, and wadding them up sufficiently and jamming them in his ears, Mort grabbed the Weedeater by the neck, and proceeded out the front door to attack the renegade weeds in the yard. By now, the light was beginning to fade rapidly, and Mort knew that he would not have much time to exterminate the weeds before it was pitch dark. After putting petrol in the tank, and yanking the string to start the thing, he waded into the weeds with the engine at full throttle, vapourising weeds at an impressive rate. It was almost dark by the time he had finished the front yard, and he had determined to save the back for later, when there was more light out, and he could hopefully avoid any large metallic objects that the neighbours saw fit to donate to his back yard. Since he was covered in shredded weed parts from head to toe, he decided to shed his protective equipment and indeed, the majority of his clothes on the porch before going back inside, in an attempt to preserve the pristine condition of the interior of his house as long as he possibly could. So having dug all the green splinters out of his ears, Mort reached in and hauled out the smashed up earplugs. Having had them installed for a fair amount of time had caused his hearing to become quite acute, as those things will, and when he removed them, he was shocked and amazed, and yes, even disgusted at what he heard.

A bit of an explanation is probably in order here, in an attempt to explain the particular cause and effect cycle that Mort had just inadvertently initiated. There is an unnamed phenomenon, apparently unknown or ignored in the medical community, but one which inflicts itself upon 90% of American males, and 10% of American females, and which, upon hearing a lawnmower or Weedeater being operated by someone other than themselves, causes an overwhelming urge to drop whatever project they are involved with, and go outside and cut the grass. Indeed, the more macho the nature of the person exhibiting this phenomena, the more urgent the need to act on it. So what Mort had unknowingly done, having himself never been so affected or indeed not having felt the urge to act on this, was he had roused all of his neighbours and caused them to come outside armed with their lawnmowers. First and foremost was the stupid woman who lived next door to the right. For some reason, which was probably a direct result of the sheer size of her, this woman owned a riding lawnmower of questionable origin. It was this that Mort first heard, in fact, what he heard was this woman mowing quite across his new garden hose causing shards to fly in all directions. For some reason she seemed incapable of determining the boundary between Mort’s yard and hers, and would, on a regular basis, cut huge chunks out of Mort’s yard, all the while spewing weed seeds and other vile things all over his yard, and out into the street, and everywhere else that was available, the deflection device on her mower deck having long since been dislodged by some undoubtedly large object that she had either mowed across, or hit with the deck. This would almost be close to being semi tolerable, except for the fact that she had the deck on the mower adjusted to within about 1/16th of an inch above ground level. And the type of grass that Mort was trying to grow in his yard required a cutting of no less than 2 inches tall. Hence the crop of weeds in his yard. And not that he hadn’t had discussions about the relative nature of the grass, and the boundaries of the yards, and other things of such nature, and not that he hadn’t had this type of discussion with her every time this happened, and not that he hadn’t been a nice guy about it. So it was about this time, that he was about to confront this woman, when she mowed quite over a discarded beer bottle, and launched large pieces of fragmented glass at a lethal velocity in Mort’s general direction, which in turn caused him to bolt for the safety of his house, still wearing the weed infested clothes.

Whether the beer bottle incident was intentional or not, or whether she was too stupid to see the thing, or whether she could even see it as dark as it was outside was anyone’s guess. But Mort was now safely inside, and headed upstairs to the bath, leaving a trail of weed and grass fragments in his wake, which were instantly eaten by the cats, and just as instantly regurgitated back up from the sheer quantity involved. Accessing the shower, he turned on the water and stepped inside, still completely dressed, and adorned with grass and weeds. He managed to remove most of the residue from his clothes, and having done so, removed them and proceeded to clean himself. Having completed that process eventually, he loaded the sodden clothes, dragged them downstairs to the laundry and placed them in the washer. Returning upstairs, he discovered himself to be quite tired from a long day of such exhilarating experiences, and flopped into the bed, with the intention of having a good night’s sleep. Such was not to be the case, as all he could hear was the stupid neighbours outside cutting grass by flashlight. And once this process started, it spread like wildfire, soon the whole stupid town would be outside. It was approaching midnight when Mort finally gave up on obtaining any form of rest at all, first because of the noise, and second because of the sheer amount of pollen and weed smell that was now saturating the air. So resigning himself to another sleepless night, he sat at his computer, complete with lap mounted cat, turned on the sound system to drown out all the lawnmower noise, and began to type. It was a herbicidal day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert went outside to check the condition of his lovely weeds/yard..................