Today’s subject matter was suggested by a friend and fellow church member named Marion. He’s been amazed and amused for several years that my wife mows our lawn. Recently he suggested I elaborate on how that arrangement was worked out. Marion was not asking for himself. He thought such advice might be helpful to others. Before I share the secret though, let’s take a side road.
Last week’s column ended by mentioning a guarantee. That reminded me of another story I heard from Mr. Emmett Stephens, something I believe is pertinent to today’s column.
Although I heartily embrace a flexible approach toward column accuracy, I asked Charles Stephens to check my recollection. He had a front-row seat on a long-ago adventure with his father. Charles was about ten years old at the time, which dates the story to the late 1940s.
Mr. Emmett and two friends, Rupert Drawhorn and Luther Gilbert, reserved a rental house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia. The men and their three families made the long drive to Glassy Mountain for a weeklong vacation on the crystal-clear waters of Lake Burton.
Money was tight so they were hoping to catch fish for most of their meals. As a backup plan, however, Mr. Emmett tied some live chickens to the top of his 1941 Plymouth. The chickens had the most thrilling ride of their lives, which was fitting since the fish didn’t cooperate. Someone finally caught a nice bass, but it wasn’t big enough to save the hens.
On their way up from Vienna as the Stephens family neared their destination, Mr. Emmett pulled into a country store to ask directions. Some men were drinking soda pop and smoking Prince Albert. They had the look of seasoned farmers who might sell their corn by the quart.
A big man wearing faded overalls pointed down the road and told Mr. Emmett to turn right when he got to the schoolhouse. “Schoolhouse?” asked Mr. Emmett with feigned surprise. “You mean to tell me y’all have schools up here in these mountains?” Mr. Emmett didn’t hear the laughter he expected. His attempt at humor among folks he didn’t know had not been well received.
“Now look here, fellows,” he said apologetically, “Back home I’m known as the village idiot and people know not to take me too seriously. I was just funning with y’all and didn’t mean to offend anyone. And furthermore, I want you gentlemen to know that everything I say comes with a guarantee. If I say something you don’t like, I’ll be more than glad to take it back.”
The rugged old men of Glassy Mountain had a good laugh and Mr. Emmett parted on friendly terms. It’s probably hard to stay mad at a man who’s traveling with his family and has chickens tied to the top of an aging Plymouth. I’m telling that story to let my readers know that Joiner’s Corner adheres to The Emmett Stephens’ Guarantee Program. We’ll stand by our advice until you tell us to sit down.
As to the question about enticing a man’s wife to mow the lawn, it goes back to a conversation a few years ago at Sunday School. A little before Christmas I mentioned the possibility of giving Jane a new mower. When Marion asked how I got her to cut the grass, I told him the main thing was to be firm. I may, however, have neglected to provide complete information, so here’s the rest of the story.
Somewhere In the early 1980s we had a push mower, which I took no great pleasure in operating. My approach to improving our lawn was to let the Centipede grass go to seed before cutting, thinking it would eventually overcome the dandelions and Bahai. That plan, however, required a four-week mowing schedule, three weeks longer than my wife preferred.
One day while looking for our young triplets in the tall grass, Jane said, “If we had a riding lawnmower, I’d mow the yard myself.” A few minutes later Mr. Billy Langford changed my life by delivering a small Snapper. So, what I didn’t explain earlier to Marion is that being firm works best for chores your wife volunteers to do.
My suggestion to any of you fellows who are interested is to be firm like me when your wife will agree. Or you can be firm on your own terms if you’re up to it. A man with a bad crick once told me that a six-foot frame on a five-foot sofa is a pain in the neck. Whatever route you choose, please remember one thing. My advice is one hundred percent guaranteed. If you don’t like it, I’ll take it back.