My friends! It’s been too, too long. I’m sorry, but my life has taken a hectic turn as-of-late. Are things settling down? No. But I’ve recently determined that the hectic pace of my life is no longer an excuse not too write. Besides, I’ve got way too much sh*t racing through my mind presently to ignore my need to get it down on paper (or in a .wpd file).
I guess that when it comes to writing, I’m a bit of a junkie. Have been, and likely always will be unless I suddenly and unexpectedly loose the mental capacity and stamina to ramble on about topics that have little or no significance outside of my own, and a few others people’s subjective realities (HOLY RUN ON SENTENCE, BATMAN!). Outside of my dependency on caffeine and my continuing struggle to quit smoking (down to three to four smokes a day, people. Almost there!), I have very few addictions save for this one. I guess it could be worse. I tell my wife on a regular basis that she lucked out. Instead of marrying an alcoholic-meth-head-wife-beating-man-whore, she married a guy who thinks he’s interesting and doesn’t know when to shut up.
I guess, though upon reading the title of this Blog post, she’s likely wishing she were married to Walter White (that’d be the alcoholic-meth-head-wife-beating-cancer-stricken-man-whore from AMC’s “Breaking Bad”) and not me. Sorry, honey, but this needs to be done.
Subsequent to the untimely demise of my lawnmower a few weeks ago and my purchase of a brand-new, self-propelled Toro Recycler 6500, a certain someone who once went by the surname “’M,’ Prophet/NotProphet of COUCHEVILTRUE” postulated—upon seeing my OLD lawnmower standing silently by the curb of my house—that leaving it for Marple/Newtown Waste Disposal was a BAD idea. Had I learned nothing from my experiences with the dark, eternal heart of CouchEvilTrue almost five, odd (and yes, they HAVE been odd, friends) years ago? What if, he postulated, said dark, eternal heart of CouchEvilTrue had somehow vacated the lifeless body of its once-host upon its destruction, and floated around in the ether for a few weeks before choosing a NEW host: that of the lawnmower that my father-in-law purchased for Nicole and I as a housewarming gift in April of 2006? After all, my history with said lawnmower was anything but rosy. I’d cite examples (and will, eventually), but before doing so, perhaps I should take a few moments to sum-up, for any newcomers, the sad, sordid history of CouchEvilTrue.
Those familiar with said history, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs.
THE SAD, SORDID HISTORY OF COUCHEVILTRUE
In 2006, when Nicole and I purchased the house that we currently reside in with our daughter, Cara, and our two furry, feline children Pandora and Roxy, there was a furious debate over a number of electronic and non-electronic formats about what should be done with my old couch, henceforth simply called COUCH. You see, COUCH and I had a history that went back to my first, post-college apartment in Jenkintown (Incarnation Two: Pat and Kim London and our live-in, Tom Noonan). Said COUCH disappeared from April of 2000 through November of the same, a period of time otherwise known as my “Vagabond Phase.” Thereafter, it reappeared in the living room of my apartment in Northeast Philadelphia with… um, Tom Noonan (damn, Tom, we’ve actually “lived” together three times? How f*cked up is that?) before following me to my apartment in Drexel Hill, otherwise known as its final resting place.
Said COUCH was, simply put, the one piece of furniture that I owned. Its estimated age at the time of its demise was 35 years in this reality, potentially more depending on which school of thought you adhered to back in COUCH’S formative years of existence (1998-2006):
SCHOOL ONE: COUCH was simply another piece of overused furniture, passed down through the generations that reeked of alcohol, cigarettes, Jim’s Cheese Steaks, New England Pizza’s Buffalo Wings and incontinent landlords. The prospect of bringing something so vile and foul in to a new house was about as appetizing as the thought of some of the actions perpetrated upon its surface, a surface that was, in appearance and texture, a hybrid of corduroy pants and a welcome mat. Said school of thought believed that it should be disposed of as all old, meaningful furniture should be—with sledgehammers and circular saws—and left in pieces by the dumpster at Talltrees Village in Drexel Hill, never to be seen again.
SCHOOL TWO: COUCH was more than another piece of overused furniture, long passed its prime. COUCH was the embodiment of evil: the physical manifestation of a deity that called itself “CouchEvilTrue,” a deity older than the universe or universes that had, for whatever reason, chosen to instill its essence or “black heart of ichor” (depending on who you asked) in COUCH. Those who adhered to SCHOOL TWO believed that not destroying, not abandoning, but KILLING COUCH would result in, among other things: the Flyers and Sixers having the worst seasons in their long and storied histories, my wife cheating on me with a man that looked like Mister Clean, me turning in to a Tequila-aholic and getting fired from my job, my wife divorcing me, me totaling my car and ending up as a stumbling, muttering wino, eternally stalking the dark and shadowy alleys of South Philadelphia (you can probably imagine which school of thought I belonged to). Rather than dispose of it, these “believers” in the oily tendrils of CouchEvilTrue (“Oyez, oyez”) advised me to carry it upon my back—my own, personal Ring of Power—throughout my life. Were I to dispose of it, they reasoned, I would be forever damned to misery.
The debate between the two schools grew over the space of a few months, and morphed in to “The Collected Couch Chronicles,” an almost 100 page treatise on what should/should not be done to or with COUCH. Said treatise was a compilation of various emails, Evites and other “E” words that circulated between a dozen plus members of my subjective reality, eventually culminating in the destruction of COUCH and a haunting final proclamation from “’M,’ Prophet/NotProphet of COUCHEVILTRUE”:
He mourned, alone, in a corner of the basement. To his eyes, moss, mildew, water dripped down the crags of the wall. Stroking a hand through his matted hair, eyes rolling around his sockets, fixing one place then another without comprehending the first. Breath whistling past teeth which had come undone and hung now like boxes placed randomly on basement shelves, he mourned. All his thoughts were bent towards one object. An object lost. All his hopes were fixed on it. His desires. An object lost. Rocking now, back and forth without heed, plucks a spider from the wall, stuffs it past his cracked and broken lips. “I’ll have it again, I will, they’ll see. I’ll have it again, my…. PRECIOUS!!!” You have been warned.
So ended the saga of COUCH, or CouchEvilTrue (depending on your chosen school of thought)… or so we believed.
THE SAD, SORDID HISTORY OF MY LAWNMOWER, AKA “THE BANE OF DOCTOR FRANK-EN-STEIN’S EXISTENCE”
Nicole and I received many housewarming gifts upon purchasing our first house in Broomall. Trinkets, appliances: our families and friends were incredibly generous. Among these gifts was perhaps THE most generous but controversial item that I can claim ownership of SINCE COUCH: my lawnmower. The first time I attempted to mow the lawn of our new house, I caught my finger on the starter cord and came within about a half an inch of slicing it off. 10 stitches later and an ignominious trip to Bryn Mawr Hospital riding shotgun in my father-in-law’s truck—my bloody finger protected by a bag of ice and a make-shift bandage of blue painters tape and Bounty—I was mended, though too this day, I still have little or no feeling in that finger (Bring a pin! Stick my finger! Watch me bleed but feel no pain! FUN AT PARTIES!). I developed quite an aversion to mowing my lawn, an aversion that it took me weeks to overcome. By the time I successfully mowed my lawn in late May of 2006 (a full six weeks after the finger incident), it was virtually beyond help. Crabgrass and Dandelion covered, it didn’t even begin to recover until this spring. Yet I labored with the blasted thing, regardless, year in and year out, toiling away to make my lawn look as presentable as possible given the circumstances.
What circumstances? A blade that jammed on an inch of grass regardless of having it set at the highest height. A 15-20 minute sequence involved with starting it that involved priming and pumping what I can only classify as the “GO” lever. In its latter life (the last two years), an acrid cloud of white smoke that belched out of the engine every time I made a turn and poisoned my immediate neighbors (said smoke could be marketed as a suburban chemical weapon). A handle held in place by an ill-fitting bolt and washer (the original bolt and washer having disappeared sometime in 2007) that I would need to stop and re-tighten an average of three times per mowing (four for my backyard). In essence, it was the Frank-en-stein’s Monster of lawnmowers, and God help me, it was MINE. Until this past spring when…
…When I finally purchased a NEW lawnmower, the aforementioned Toro Recycler 6500, complete with a self-propulsion system, “cruise control” (I can take my hand off what I can only classify as the “GO” lever and it… KEEPS… GOING!) and a detachable mulch bag that I can remove without turning off the mower! It requires no priming, and has a larger gas tank than my original mower. In short, it’s the Cadillac of Toros. And my lawn has never looked better. All memories of that original bastard child of Mother Nature and Mister Green Thumb were subsequently forgotten as I wheeled the blasted piece of garbage out to my curb on a Sunday afternoon. There the f*cking thing sat, waiting for a mercy that only God or a Waste Disposal Management Crew could give it. I left for work the Monday after I placed it there, stopping briefly to spit on it from the driver’s side of my car before pulling away…
…Only to return home that night and discover the blasted beast still sitting by the curb.
I was shocked in to silence, and sat staring at it for a moment from the driver’s side of my car. Since 2006, Marple/Newtown Waste Disposal had removed everything from dead animals to old furniture from my curb, due largely in part to the $50.00 stipend we give them every Christmas. My wife just informed me that we didn’t tip them this past Christmas (2009), which could rationally explain why they didn’t remove the unsightly piece of lawn care machinery that sat taunting me by the curb as the sun set on yet another GLORIOUS Monday in my subjective reality. But where’s the fun in rationality?
Dejected, I slowly rolled the mower up the coarse and cracked blacktop of my driveway, stopping ever-briefly at my car to push the OPEN button on my automatic garage door opener, and sighed as the garage door only opened half way. Forced now to not only keep the mower, but duck under the half-opened garage door and potentially snap my spine in the process, I bit back a sob. It was then—as I wheeled the mower in to its customary place between a stack of empty boxes and my garbage cans—that I remembered “M’s” prophecy from the previous afternoon.
Did I, thereafter, reluctantly face the realization that the dark, eternal heart of CouchEvilTrue cannot be killed? Did I, thereafter, feel the need to call the “believers” in SCHOOL TWO and concede that I was wrong? Is this Blog entry nothing more than my concession, a concession that I am reminded of every time I walk in to my garage and see my own, personal Frank-en-stein’s Monster sitting silently… TAUNTINGLY…
I did not. In truth, I haven’t spoken or written of this until tonight. If SCHOOL TWO is correct in their assessment that the dark, eternal heart of CouchEvilTrue now resides within the clogged fuel-line of my old lawnmower, then I have nothing to fear. Said beast has not moved from its spot in my garage since. In truth, part of me—the part that has oft been maimed by the red (RED! It’s RED!) demon-spawn of Suburbia—fears even touching it. I will not destroy it, lest I risk the POSSIBILITY (mind you, I’m simply calling it a “possibility,” not a “definitive”) that it is, in fact, the current host of an evil far older than the oldest of evils in this or any reality. Older even than Cheez Whiz: a tantalizing condiment, the mere thought of which causes shooting pains to travel through my left arm. “Oyez, oyez.” Mmm. Processed cheese product. Good on a steak sandwich, but better mixed with salsa.
But I keep my experiences with my original lawnmower in perspective, despite the fact that it no longer has any functional relevancy in my weekly lawn-care regiment. “Believers”: I will concede that it is conceivable that the four odd (and yes, they HAVE BEEN odd) years that I battled with said mower for lawn supremacy were nothing more than a penance for my decision to KILL COUCH in the Spring and Summer of 2006. I will concede that the dark, eternal and EVER-PRESENT heart of CouchEvilTrue has potentially spent the last four years avenging itself upon me and my lawn, and were I to dispose of my old lawnmower, said evil would float around in the ether for a few hours, days or weeks before possessing my new seed spreader and causing it to take one or more of my toes as a blood sacrifice. I will concede that the prospect of simply offering my old lawnmower to the Marple/Newtown Waste Disposal Department is about as conceivable as not having to spend a thousand bucks a month on day care for my daughter, Cara, especially if Nicole and I can no longer afford to offer them a stipend every Christmas. I will concede these points and will leave the damnable creature right. Where. It. IS. But…
If the black heart of ichor that was, is, and remains CouchEvilTrue still exists in my subjective reality; if it’s oily tendrils reach out, even now, from the confines of its prison within my garage, then by association, all of you—both “believers” and non—are in danger. If you are reading this, then you exist within my own, personal subjective reality, and YOU ARE IN DANGER. Despite your posturing to the contrary four years ago, each of you—even the most staunch Prophets/NotProphets of CouchEvilTrue—took sledgehammer or power tool in hand and howled in ecstasy while you dismantled what one “believer” called “The Velveteen Couch.” Even you “M”: you supplied a sledgehammer. Just because its evil influence hasn’t touched your lives yet does not mean that it won’t. Perhaps it is the inherent goodness that exists within me—a NON-alcoholic-NON-druggie-NON-wife-beating-NON-man-whore that likes to ramble incessantly about topics that only he seems to care about but believes staunchly in the providence of God and the Toro Recycler 6500 (AKA “The Escalade of Lawnmowers”)—that is keeping this ancient evil at bay. Or perhaps it is the inherent goodness in my wife, Nicole; or our newborn child, Cara. But I ask you as friends… my good friends… to help me come up with a means by which to eradicate this dastardly force from our lives once and for all. We need a plan, else the dark, eternal heart of CouchEvilTrue may forever shadow our lives and enshroud our fates.
If what “M” said was true, then this may only be the beginning.
Join with me. I have Cheez Whiz!