Okay, let’s review:
Spring, 1993: The infamous Exploding Lawn Mower Incident. (This would also be the year Hillary Clinton took over the White House. Coincidence? Probably.)
The explosion was traced by ATF investigators to either low oil level, or terrorist action by an extremist environmentalist group. The results were catastrophic: a mushroom cloud of smoke visible from Fort Wayne, a mistaken earthquake alert by Illinois geologists, changed weather patterns over Cleveland.
Days later FAA crews discovered my lawn mower’s spark plug, buried in the fuselage of a 747 that had been cruising at 58,000 feet.
The long term effect: My back yard declared a brownfield by the EPA, a class action lawsuit, and of course the new federal program requiring mandatory lawnmower safety checks for rural residents of any state ending with “ana”.
September, 1994: Burn treatment #318. (That same month, the Clinton sponsored health care plan was declared dead on arrival in the Senate. I do see the irony.)
While walking along behind the mower I glanced down to see a small rod of solid metal lying on the grass. It was clearly not a lawn mower part of any kind, so, assuming it had been thrown there by someone, I picked it up.
It did come from the mower. In fact, it had just come from the mower, apparently from somewhere deep inside the fiery bowels of the engine. Luckily, I’m well versed in first aid; and the neighbors are used to me cursing while doing yard work, anyway.
I never did discover what the little metal bolt was supposed to do, and for once it didn’t effect the operation of the mower. Apparently it was some kind of mower dung.
Autumn, 1996: The Fall of the House of Cards. (This was the year Hillary was called to testify before a grand jury over the Whitewater scandal. I held no Whitewater stock.)
This one was pretty straightforward: While being operated, the mower simply fell apart, into about a dozen pieces. Most were the remains of the handle. Ever try to operator a push mower without the handle?
Summer, 2000: Roped into Disaster. (Hillary Clinton was elected U.S. Senator in New York that year. Coincidence? Well, yeah.)
When I pulled the rope to start the mower, the rope didn’t retract back into the starter-thingy. This was bad enough by itself, but I didn’t see that it hadn’t retracted, and the next thing I knew it was wrapped around the blade. Yes, I ran over my lawn mower -- with my lawn mower.
November, 2006: Election Day Massacre.
Hillary Clinton is reelected to the Senate. On the same, unusually warm day, as I hit the lawn for one last run, my mower … stops. Just stops. Lawns are apparently not supposed to be mowed in November.
August, 2008: Conservative Lawnmower Reveal. (That same year, Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic Presidential nomination to that Illinois fella.)
Whenever the mower was tilted even slightly to the left, it died. When kept level or tilted right, it ran just fine. 95% of my lawn is tilted. Just think about trying to make the rounds while never leaning to the left at all; I had the Rush Limbaugh of mowers.
As time went by the problem seemed to work itself out, and I was able to mow without performing some sort of complex, spinning lawn ballet that more than once had the neighbors call me in as a possible rabies case.
This year? Well, this year Hillary is Secretary of State. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Due to certain storage circumstances, my daughter’s boyfriend had stowed the mower in a position where it basically stood on its front wheels, facing the garage floor. I’d drained the oil and gas out, so no problem – right?
But if that was true, I wouldn’t be writing this column.
I did everything right. (Many of my stories start that way.) I filled it with fresh oil and gas, connected the spark plug, made sure no rodents were living under the deck, and spoke soft, kind words to it while praying to the mechanic gods. Then, while inside the garage so the neighbors wouldn’t get photographic evidence of what happened next, I pulled the starter.
Well. I tried to pull the starter.
There’s a law of physics involved. When you expect a rope to come out, and the rope doesn’t budge, something else is likely to move. That something else was me. I moved at the speed of a sharp pull -- over the mower, which had apparently thought to brace itself.
The last thing I saw, rushing toward my face, was the carving I’d found on the wall when I bought the place: “Fred Markey, 1879”.
Fred, I assume, was the guy who used to muck the horse stall and bring hay down from the loft, which gives you an idea of why my garage is so narrow. No matter how bored it got, I doubt that the horse did the carving.
Now I have “Fred Markey” embedded in the frontal bone of my skull along with, again, a conservative lawn mower. (I mean I own a conservative lawn mower -- not that it’s embedded in my skull. I suppose that’ll be next year.)
If the Tea Party folks want to see true grass roots, they should come to my house, where the grass grows wild and free (or wilts under a combination of flames and oil spills).
Later my daughter’s boyfriend determined that oil remaining in the engine migrated to the area of the spark plug, which apparently caused the thing to seize up like the Tin Woodman caught in a rainstorm. He got it started (No, not the Tin Woodman!), and as long as I don’t get too liberal on the hills it does okay.
Now, I don’t really believe Hillary Clinton had anything to do with this at all; I was just having some fun. Still -- just in case -- the next time she makes a career change, I’m hiring a lawn care service.