Monday, July 19, 2010

Wild Tomboys

No one else can mow my lawn but me. I might not do the best job, and I might let the grass grow too high before I finally get to it, and I know that I sound like a total dude when I say it, but dammit, no one else is touching my lawn. (wouldn't it be funny if that was the end of my post? But no, I've got more to say.)

I don't exactly know why that is, but it might have something to do with me getting in touch with my inner tomboy. Some people need to get in touch with their inner child. I'm working on getting in touch with the wild little girl inside of me, the one who demanded a Pixie cut in the 2nd grade so she could look like Peter Pan, the one who wanted to play whatever the boys were playing at recess because she thought that jacks, scratch-n-sniff stickers, and My Little Ponies were boring. Though, ok, I did like My Little Ponies. I couldn't resist their mystique and the darling little combs they came with.

But anyway, not only do I love mowing the lawn, I love my lawn mower. I don't know anything about how the engine works, or how to fix it if it breaks, but I love pulling the rip cord that jump starts the machine, and that it takes two or three pulls to get it started. Every time I pull the cord and the engine stirs, like someone groaning when you try to wake them up, my own motor begins to awaken. My heart beats faster and I feel stronger, more powerful. Because every time I pull the cord and the engine doesn't start, I root my feet into the ground, summon all of my upper body strength, and cry, "Machine! I command you to start!" Then I jerk back, the engine roars and I laugh, mad with power. Then the neighbors stop inviting me to their dinner parties for a while. But I don't care because then, once the engine starts, I get to mow the lawn.

The joy goes beyond a love for the smell of freshly mowed grass. I love reshaping the terrain. Running over a patch of long-haired-hippie-like grass and making it a respectable, clean-shaven citizen that can run out there get a job. I even love pushing the machine in rows back and forth across the yard. I do not know why. I would explain it if I could, the thing about pushing the machine. The only thing I can figure is that it takes a certain amount of strength, not a Herculean amount, but some, and I've always prided myself on being strong. I was ashamed of that before because I was afraid that being physically strong made me unfeminine. And now I just don't give a fuck. It makes me who I am - a person who loves wearing the grass and dirt that shoots on my legs, the sweat that drips in my eyes, and the smell of gasoline on my hands when I refill the tank. And then I love taking a shower and smelling like myself again - only a clean self who has accomplished something, something domesticated, responsible, and filled with a motor's hum.

This gives me and the kids a smooth yard to slip n' slide on, which my tomboy also loves. Getting out there in shorts and a T-shirt and belly-racing the kids across the three-lane slide.

My character Pam is a tomboy too. No, she is not me. But she's got a bit of me mixed in there because I'm her momma and my imprint is unavoidable. She's a landscaper and she's good at it. She loves to be outside and when she's inside sometimes she'll stare out of the window with only a vague awareness that she wants to climb out of it.

I was working on a scene with she and her friend Jess, where she's helping Jess address invitations to her ex-inlaw's anniversary party. Pam is a single mom who never married her daughter's father, and Jess has two kids and is in the middle of a divorce. Jess is involved in her ex-inlaw's 40th anniversary party because she and her ex-husband's sister have been talking about throwing it for the last four years. The invitations are ruby red because, after 15 minutes of internet research, the ex-sister-in-law discovered that ruby red is the official 40 year color, symbolizing that their passion is still alive and strong after all those years.

Jess couldn't imagine her ex-in-laws, Carol and Doug, having the amount of passion as suggested by the color of the anniversary invitation. It had a sultry red border with a white background and loopy-script, red lettering. Way too fancy, Jess thought, for a barbecue. "After 40 years they're still hot!" it boasted. Jess thought of Doug in his kahki shorts and gray T-shirt with the big trout on it. His red face and two chins. Carol with her wide hips, that she complained were extra wide from having twins as if she'd delivered them at the same exact time. She had short, curly hair and sparkly silver eye shadow. They were hot for slot machines, Jess thought, but said nothing to her ex-sister-in-law who was glowing with her parent's success at marriage.

"How do people stay together for 40 years?" Jess asked Pam, as they were stuffing invitations into envelopes at Jess's kitchen table.
Pam looked at her as if she'd just asked her the square root of 786,321,094.
"God, I don't know," she said. "I've never been with anybody longer than six months."
Jess set down the invitation she was stuffing. "You've never told me that."
"It's true."
"But Alex's dad-"
"Mason and I weren't together. We just fucked."
"For three years."
"That's like a two week relationship." She thought for a moment. "And relationship is too strong of a word for it."
"So why did you keep sleeping with him?"
Pam shrugged. "I don't know." But she did know and she decided to say it, but she couldn't look at Jess when she did. "He always held me. He was good about that. They don't all do that, but with Mason it was a guarantee. I knew if I stayed with him he'd hold me all night."
"Yeah?" Jess said.
"Yeah." Pam glared at her. "If you tell anybody I'll ram those tacky invitations up your ass."
Jess threw up her hands. "Who would I tell? When would it it even come up?"
"These things sometimes do," said Pam.
Jess laughed. "I'm not gonna tell anybody, loony bird."
Pam knew that. That's why she'd told her.
Both of them looked at that fiery invitation like the color of it could engulf them. They felt like such failures. Jess because her marriage had only made it ten years, and Pam because her six month relationship had been an affair. Not even with someone available.

Don't worry, things don't end sad. I but before they end happily I'm going to make them feel like total shit. Writing is my power trip, like mowing the lawn. This is where my mad laughter rolls in. Mwahahahahahahahahaha!...Awe, dammit,now the neighbors are avoiding me again.


Tom said...

"I don't know anything about how the engine works, or how to fix it if it breaks, but I love pulling the rip cord that jump starts the machine, and that it takes two or three pulls to get it started."

For one summer of your life, you need to own a vintage, kick-start motorcycle, preferably a cantankerous one with a fairly large displacement. There is nothing that feels quite so "Fuck yeah!" as pushing the kicker over slowly to the *just right* spot, then setting your foot on it, grabbing the handlebars, and then hop and a PUSH down on that thing - and then all hell breaks loose under you...which is where the "Fuck yeah!" thing usually hits you.

Genevieve said...

Dude, I'm right there with you. I love that description by the way, "grabbing the handlebars, and then hop and a PUSH down on that thing - and then all hell breaks loose under you." Use it, my friend!