My husband went out to mow the lawn last week. The good news: he came back. The bad news: he came back after cutting only half of the back yard. He entered the kitchen with an announcement.
"Mower's broken," he said.
"Not again," I said, feeling like we were caught in a moment of dj vu - which we were, sort of.
When it comes to lawn mowers, he and I have witnessed our fair share of failures. We buy them. Use them for a short time. They break. The cycle repeats. Because of our history of bad mower karma, I had no reason to doubt my husband's latest declaration of death. Still, he perceived this breakdown as significant, somehow.
"You've got to see this," he said.
No I don't, I half whispered, half screamed inside my head, hoping he hadn't suddenly become telepathic. I couldn't imagine how a broken mower could in any way be of any interest to me.
"I believe you. The lawn mower's broken," I said, trying to keep disinterest from leaking into my inflection. I wanted to go back to peeling potatoes or collecting dust bunnies or doing whatever I had been doing before he broke the lawn mower (again).
"The engine came loose from the base," he said, as though this impressive piece of information would entice me into the back yard.
"I believe you," I said for the second time in as many minutes. "No need to prove anything to me." (Trust is important in a marriage.)
"C'mon," he said taking me by the arm and leading me to the back door. "Humor me." (Humor is important in a marriage.)
And that is how I found myself in our back yard, staring nose to nose with a lawn mower, which was indeed broken - not that I'd had any doubt. The base, or whatever you call it, appeared cracked along the inside edges where it was supposed to attach to the engine. I figured we had ourselves another dead machine. I pictured the broken beast taking its place in a hidden part of the backyard, behind the garage, next to the two other inoperative mowers residing there.
My husband had a different idea. It seems the base was irreparable, but the motor was a quality one, still in working order and simply in need of an undamaged carriage on which to sit. We just happened to have two, resting (in peace) behind the garage.
"We'll swap out one engine for another," he said. "No problem."
Sure, piece of cake, I thought. This is my lucky day. Despite my disinterest and lack of mechanical aptitude, I reconciled myself to the fact that I was in for an adventure. (Adventure is important in a marriage.)
And that is how I found myself squatting, in the least attractive of positions, on the driveway over a partially dismembered lawn mower, holding various pieces steady (or trying to) while my husband cajoled four bolts through holes in the base to secure the engine in place.
Four bolts. The premise was a simple one even I could understand - righty tighty and all that technical jargon. Trouble is, our bolts were troublesome little nuts. Apparently they'd missed the memo explaining the task they were created to do, causing us to experience something of an attachment disorder. After 20 minutes into the task, my arms ached from exertion. Thirty minutes in and the circulation in my legs ceased to exist. I shifted positions and held tight to the engine. Black oil dripped down onto my fingers, threatening my ability to get a grip.
My husband and I wrestled and coerced (the bolts, not each other) and after much expulsion of effort, one by one the little doohickeys took their place and attached to the engine. Success! Score one for us. We high fived and I went inside to wash the motor oil off my hands.
Admittedly, I was happy we'd tackled the impossible. We'd fixed the broken mower. There's nothing as satisfying as a completed task.
Now if I could only get him to finish mowing the lawn.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more columns at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.