Thursday, July 21, 2011

Death by Owner's Manual

The Author Clearing a Rug Jam From the Blade of Her Lawn Tractor
( No One Was Maimed in the Taking of this Picture!)

Note: In honor of our upcoming anniversary, I will be re-posting a series of anniversary/celebratory gift related essays. I don’t ask for diamonds. I don’t covet dangling loops of gold for around my turkey skin neck. I don’t ask for spa days or massages. I ask for and get John Deere lawn tractors and accessories from my soul mate. It’s our way. It’s our culture. It’s how we say, “I love you.” He buys the Deere.  I mow stuff.


This was on page one of my John Deere lawn tractor user manual.

This was on page one of my Valentine’s Day gift that I received from my sweetheart of thirty-two years.

My husband bought me a riding lawn mower, because nothing says romance like the smell of fresh cut grass, and the above warning was just the introduction of the owner’s manual. The next twenty pages explained the warning list in gruesome, gory detail—with pictures. Not real pictures of people poisoned because they drank riding lawn mower related fluids, but those black and white silhouette pictures that look like they were drawn by ancient (grass mowing) Egyptians in a real big hurry.

For twenty pages I was forced to look at silhouette people getting their silhouette toes, heels, arms, legs, heads, and fingers cut off. In addition to that there were tragic, gory silhouette drawings of stick people being crushed, maimed, poisoned, exploded, blinded, dragged, and burned to cinders by my Valentine’s Day gift.

There was even a silhouette picture of some anonymous soul slipping in a puddle of silhouette oil that might, maybe, could possibly leak out of the bottom of my new shiny lawn tractor. I don’t think the silhouette man made it.

All I was trying to figure out was how to start the stupid beast. By the time I found the information I needed, I was too afraid to turn the key.

I haven’t left the house since the John Deere man dropped off my John Deere lawn tractor with headlight action (for mowing in the dark—if you dare.) I want to call a lawyer and sue for pain and suffering caused by reading the owner’s manual, but I’m afraid if I pick up the phone my lawn tractor will have tapped into the main phone line to my house so that it can send a killing jolt of electricity into my inner ear wax. I’m afraid I’ll get ear tasered.

It’s out there, right now, in the garage leaking an enormous pool of deadly oil, hoping I will either lick it or slip in it.  I know it. I feel it. Its malevolence grows. It’s like having The Bride of Chucky parked next to the Nissan Titan.

And just this minute, I noticed that on the cover of the owner’s manual under the leaping deer silhouette logo are these words:  WARNING: THE ENGINE EXHAUST FROM THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CHEMICALS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER, BIRTH DEFECTS OR OTHER REPRODUCTIVE HARM. (CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65 WARNING)

What if it gets me pregnant?

Well that cinches it, next Valentine’s Day I’m going to ask my husband for something really romantic—like a suicide bomber vest. Honestly.

Linda (Mow Fast, Mow Hard) Zern



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