The curse in our family has always been consistent; the presence of it always anticipated, expected to appear more times than not.
The curse has forced its way into how we think, what we plan, and things we want to try. Each time one of us embarks on a new journey, whether it be artistic endeavors, job related, or even an attempt at personal improvement, we have to take the curse into consideration.
At first we thought about giving the curse a mysterious, exotic moniker. You know, something tied to a mummy seeking revenge on us all for an atrocity our ancestors perpetrated. But after discussion we all concluded our European ancestors probably weren’t paling around with Tutankhamen while the pyramids were being constructed.
So we took a more common approach.
Then, and forevermore, the curse which strikes our family as a whole or even singles out an innocent family member is simply known as…
The Barnett Curse.
Okay, we know. Not very original as curses go, but we don’t think giving it a lofty title matters much. The Barnett Curse has taken up residency in our house so long it doesn’t really care if it has a name.
Hell, it’s been with us so long it gets its mail delivered to our house.
I’d love to say I can’t remember the last time The Barnett Curse flexed it’s muscles, but I’d be lying.
Take this past weekend.
It was supposed to be a relaxing four days away from my side hustle. I was going to use the time to get ahead of the curve on my writing. But first, there was this lawn mower thing I was supposed to deal with.
Who knew the Barnett Curse recently added possessing a riding lawn mower to its bag of tricks?
This was not just any lawn mower mind you. This was a sparkly, red, looks-like-it’s-racing-while-standing-still, new riding lawn mower. The vendor delivered the lawn mower preassembled Tuesday of last week, along with a grass catcher kit and mulching blade kit we purchased.
Neither of which were installed.
The lawn mower was so damn beautiful. I could see myself tooling about in the seat with my hands on the steering wheel. I even posed on it while my wife took a picture. We talked about how great this new addition to the family would be and how we each would take turns mowing the front and back yard.
Stand up and take a bow Barnett Curse. You’re about to steal the show.
While I was drooling with joy and flipping buttons and shifting all the levers my wife made a simple observation which stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Uh, baby? How wide is that thing?”
I was having way too much fun with the levers to pay much attention.
“Not sure, why?”
“Well, we need to get it through the gate in order to mow the back yard.”
I froze in place, my hand clutching the power train lever.
After fetching the tape measure (usually a chore in itself because I never put it back in the same place twice) I measure our pride and joy at it’s widest point.
“Fifty two inches,” I muttered and then marched to the gate, opened it and measured again.
My wife spotted my crestfallen look as soon as I stepped into the garage.
“Let me guess, too small.”
“Yeap, the width of the gate is only forty six inches.”
“Okay, now what?”
I gazed at the lawn mower. I wasn’t about to take the damn thing back. Besides, even if I wanted to I didn’t know how I was going to get it in the back of my truck. I’d already read the manual. The beast weighed over five hundred pounds.
And there we stood, me with a couple of bum knees and my wife with a screwed up back.
We’ll just bench press that sucker and toss it in the truck like a bag of marshmallows.
That’s when I noticed a flap on the right side of the mower assembly and pulled it up. It was a flexible cover over the grass exhaust port to prevent clippings from flying up on the rider. I had my wife hold up the cover and I remeasured.
“Forty two inches,” I proclaimed with joy.
Ah, not so much. The Barnett Curse was just getting started.
“Okay do you want put the grass catcher together and put it on?” My wife asked.
“Sure, let me see the instructions.”
My loving wife handed me the instructions and stood with her hands on her hips as I scan read. I looked up at her, then back at the instructions and then back at her.
“What is it this time?”
I sighed heavily, “We can’t use the grass catcher.”
I pointed to the flap we’d just tinkered with.
“Because the hose installs on the side where that flap is and it sticks out about eight inches and then goes up behind me where the grass catcher should be attached.”
“Then we’ll have to take the hose off every time just to get into the back yard?”
“Shit. Goddamn it all to hell.”
A little bit of info about my beloved partner in life. She’s a Vernon Texas girl who grew up in the country walking barefoot on hot tarmac roads. She was so totally a tomboy most of the lads in school were scared to cross her. If they ever tried, well let’s just say she had no problems smashing a fist in their jaw.
My delicate flower learned to cuss before most people learned to ride their first bike. Now, she usually doesn’t spit out that kind of language at first, but when she gets frustrated, oh boy, it almost makes me blush.
So, by virtue of our back yard gate the grass catcher was out. I repackaged it along with the instructions, grabbed the receipt and after loading the box took off.
Wife was waiting for me in the kitchen nursing a bottle of water when I got back.
“Any problems returning it?”
“Thank God. I was thinking the Barnett Curse was about to jinx this whole thing.”
“Ah, not this time my dear. I believe we’ve averted the crisis. Of course we’re going to have to install the mulching blades, since we don’t have a grass catcher anymore.”
Evidently, the Barnett Curse was listening. Had I overheard it snickering in the background I would have realized it wasn’t through with us yet.
To Be Continued — The Curse Part II
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