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Monday, November 09, 2009

Schrodinger's Lawn

An Acrostic by Tom King

Will I with courage face the closing of the day?
 In wrapping up my life will I be done?
 No, I expect to leave unfinished business here
 Don't grieve for I have fought my war and won.

My wife and I do not have the same set of values where yard work is concerned. I have been called "afraid of manual labor" because of that lawnological difference between us. I know better than to retort. Let her take her shot. She will go inside soon and leave me out here with the fresh cut grass and forever falling leaves.

The problem is, I think, one of basic gender values. Men tend to take the longer view; pursue more distant goals than do our women. We are, after all, the hunters in the hunter-gatherer partnership. In the poem, I express a very male idea. It's not accidental that women don't really get what I'm talking about here, but men do. Men seldom really finish our work. There's always more to do than we can get done in a day or in this lifetime for that matter.That's why we tinker and tweak cars, boats, sound systems, whatever! We plan on making them perfect eventually, but we never quite get there. Next time a guy shows you something he's proud of, see if doesn’t tell you not only how cool and powerful whatever it is, but he'll also tell you what's still wrong with it and what he plans to do to make it better.

Women on the other hand approach tasks as a series of nest buildings. They work very hard to pull everything into a nice nest-like enclosure and kill themselves trying to tie it all up in a bow. It's an exercise in futility though. There is always something undone left outside the bow and the basket. I think it's why so many women are unhappy. It's the way my wife does the lawn.

She'll kill herself to bring the lawn to the peak of perfection, not a leaf anywhere, the lines in the dirt perfectly parallel. Every blade of grass subdued; every flower standing erect. Then she stands on the porch, looks at it with satisfaction for a moment and then goes inside before the next autumn breeze can shower a ton of dead leaves down on her nice tidy lawn. She needs to see that moment of perfect in order to content herself that all is right with the lawn till next Sunday. Next Sunday, she'll start all over trying to subdue mother nature.

Me, I figure the grass is an on-going project. I know I'm not going to beat the leaves. I can be satisfied with the yard looking only generally better. While my Sweet Baboo is inside taking a bath and fixing her hair, I sit out on the porch, play the guitar and watch the wind swirl down the dry leaves and make them dance on the new mown lawn. I am content.

My wife is also content in the house where she doesn't have to watch the depredations of autumn leaves upon her perfect lawn. For her, it's like Schrodinger's cat, the physics exercise where you seal a cat in a box with cyanide and a radioactive trigger. The idea is that if you don’t open the box, the cat isn’t dead in there because you don’t really know till you open it. If Schrodinger wasn't a woman, he was certainly in touch with his feminine side.

So, for my wife, so long as she just doesn't look at the lawn, in her mind it's still perfect. 

Men don't much get that.......

© 2009 by Tom King

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