We managed to avert crisis with our brand new riding lawn mower and figured out how to get it through the gate to the back yard.
We even figured out we couldn’t use the grass catcher and returned it for a full return, no questions asked. Now, we were standing in our garage again as I poured over the instructions on installing a brand new set of mulching blades.
“Oh hell no,” I exclaimed.
“It says I have to dissemble the entire blade assembly including the transmission belt assembly and pull the whole damned thing off. I don’t want to fuck with the transmission.”
“Goddammit! Why is this shit NEVER easy for us? I swear to God baby, it’s the fucking Barnett Curse.”
I nod and then a moment of brilliance passes through my brain. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.
“Okay, I’ve got an idea.”
“So, we set it up on its butt. All you have to do is balance it on its rear wheels. Then I can get to the blades pretty easy.”
“That’s all I have to do?”
“Yeap, I’ll take care of the rest.”
Can you imagine two old farts trying to bench press a five hundred pound riding lawn mower? Well, I couldn’t either, but somehow we managed to get the damned thing on its haunches.
Sure enough I was able to get to the blade nuts pretty damned easy.
And…then the Barnett Curse stepped in.
Using a pair of channel locks (pliers on steroids) I attempted to loosen the nut on the first blade.
The Barnett Curse: Uh, no, I’m thinking that’s not going to happen.
After several attempts, I realized the folks who assembled the mower used an impact wrench to tighten the nuts. There was no way in hell I was ever going to break them free with a pair of pliers.
I could hear my baby from behind the lawn mower grunting with exertion.
“Baby, we need to set it down for a bit. I have to get my sockets and a driver from the tool chest.”
“Yes, for God’s sake yes. My back is killing me.”
We eased the lawn mower to the ground and I rummaged through my tool chest until I found the biggest socket I had and my driver.
“Okay, let’s try again.”
Wife was breathing heavy and her face was beet red.
“Give me a minute.”
One Mississippi, two Mississippi.
“Okay you ready?”
No sooner did we get the lawn mower on its butt than I realized the largest socket I had was too small.
“We gotta set it down. The socket I have is too small.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
I took a real deep breath and held it for a second.
“No dear, I’m not kidding.”
My wife has a tendency to get monosyllabic just prior to emitting a barrage of foul language which can strip a concrete wall free of paint better than a sand blaster.
I knew it was time for a break.
“Okay look baby. I need to get the right socket. May pick up a longer driver as well. It’ll take me awhile. Why don’t you go in the house and set for spell? I’ll be back in about an hour or so.”
“Take all the fucking time you need.”
So I took much longer than I needed. And I purchased a much bigger socket than the one I had and an extra long driver as well. When I got back my wife was again in the kitchen nursing a fresh bottle of water.
“You got what you need?”
“Yeah, I believe I do.”
“Okay, but I’m telling you I don’t have a lot left. We’ve got to get this finished or I’m done for. You understand?”
She nodded at me and we traipsed back to the garage and lifted the precious one on her butt again.
And then, the Barnett Curse slapped me in the back of the head and giggled.
I stared at the nut on the blade and compared it with the socket I’d just purchased. I stared again at the nut in disbelief and examined the socket again.
“What are you doing baby?”
“Uh,” I said and then hesitated.
“The socket’s too small,” I mumbled.
“Did you just say the socket’s too small?”
“Oh for the fucking love of God. Are you fucking serious? Okay help me set this thing down.”
After returning the lawn mower to the floor, my wife gave me the look. I’m willing to bet a vast majority of you know what the look is, or have witnessed it being tossed about or has been on the receiving end of — the look.
“Baby please go get the right socket this time. We can’t keep doing this. It’s going to kill us.”
So I fly to the store again. This time I flag down an attendant and spell out my entire story; bemoan all the misery the Barnett Curse was putting me through. I expected a little sympathy from the man. At the very least some kind of empathetic acknowledgement of my plight.
All he said was, “Dude, it sucks to be you right now.”
No fucking shit Sherlock. Now give me those two sockets right there and get the fuck out of my way.
When I got back to the house, wife wasn’t in the kitchen. She had retired to the formal living room and was sitting there, surfing Amazon on her phone.
She looked so frazzled I almost didn’t have the heart (or the guts) to ask for her help again, but I knew there was no way I could do it by myself.
She must have read my mind because she looked up from her phone and smiled.
I nodded and we made our way to the garage. Without a word she helped me lift gargantuan on its haunches again and I quickly set about freeing the first blade.
But the Barnett Curse wasn’t going down without a fight.
I was in a hurry to remove the first blade and position the new mulching blade in place. So much so, I sliced two fingers on my right hand.
No I wasn’t wearing gloves.
You see, the insidious nature of the Barnett Curse feeds on the stupidity of the household members. The curse presents situations where our stupidity manifests itself by us doing well, stupid shit.
Stupid shit which brings about loss of blood, broken limbs, you know stupid, should have known better, shit.
Okay, I was bleeding, but not profusely and I got the first blade on and the nut tightened down.
Then the Barnett Curse decided to have it’s last laugh at our expense.
Try as hard as I may, I could not get the nut on the second blade loosened. I tugged and strained and yanked and pulled. I threw the entire weight of my upper body against the handle of my new driver, but the nut would not budge.
“Baby, quit pushing against the mower,” my wife growled. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold it.”
“Set it down,” I replied. “Let’s just set it down.”
Gasping from exertion we both stared at our beautiful red monster in silence. A long, long, excruciatingly long moment of silence. My wife was the first to speak.
“You realize if we can’t get it this time, it’s just not going to happen right?”
I nodded. She’d just said exactly what I was thinking.
I wondered how bad it would be cutting the lawn with a standard blade and a mulching blade. Maybe it meant we would only have to rake up half as much grass. But the intent was to not rake anything.
Even though the Barnett Curse had spent the afternoon kicking the shit out of the both of us I knew we had to try.
One more time.
I gazed at my lovely wife. Strands of hair had freed themselves from the binding of her pony tail. Although frizzled and wispy, they were matted to the sides of her face, held in place by beads of sweat. Her face was a permanent hue of suffused maroon crimson and she was breathing heavily.
God what a woman.
I nodded my head and said, “Last time baby.”
She nodded as well and helped me lift the lawn mower, then moved around to the back and balanced it while I tackled the feisty nut. As before it resisted, it’s strength fortified by the Barnett Curse.
But I wasn’t about to let the bastard curse win this time. Not this fucking time. I threw everything I had left, every ounce of strength remaining at the handle of the driver. Then the nut broke free. It happened so fast it caught me off guard and I almost fell.
As quickly as I could I retrieved the new mulching blade, inserted it and then screwed the nut down tight.
“You done baby?” My wife called out.
“Yeap, let’s set it down.”
After returning the mower to the floor, we stood there in silence, this time both us of breathing hard, she holding her back and me trying to stem the tiny streams of blood seeping from the cuts on my fingers.
My wife looked at my hand and said, “Fucking Barnett Curse. Let’s get you cleaned up and get some band aids on your fingers.”
I nodded and followed her into the house, but I stopped in the doorway and took one last look at our new riding lawn mower. At that moment I couldn’t help but wonder what the Barnett Curse had in store for us.
I mean, all we did was put mulching blades on. We haven’t even tried to start the damned thing yet.
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