This is a courtesy notice from the City of Petoskey, Michigan, to inform you that your grass has exceeded the maximum height of 8 inches established by City Ordinance Section 11-1996. Please comply within 7 days to avoid a $50 fine.
James R. Lipman (no relation)
Petoskey City Manager
It was late on a rainy Monday when Miranda came home from the bars. On her way in she noticed a catalog soaking wet on her porch– Nordstrom Summer Collection, great clothes, very expensive, very depressing. She had avoided her mailbox for days, knowing that there would be many bills and only one unemployment check to cover them.
She dropped the stack of mail on the dining room table, ate two stacks of Oreo cookies, and flipped through the envelopes. That’s when she spotted the one marked “City of Petoskey”. She stumbled toward the stairs, fell off her shoes, and slowly climbed her way to drunken oblivion.
The next day, fighting a migraine, she slipped on dark glasses, grabbed a ruler from the kitchen drawer, and indignantly marched out to the front yard. It was 11:00 a.m. and her neighbor, 80-year-old Eunice Balthasar, was already hard at work in her yellow kitchen apron, tending to her plants, whistling a happy tune. Miranda’s grass was up to her knees.
“This is an outrage, man’s work!” she cried. The sight of her tall grass and weeds took her back to the days when a lawn and landscape crew tended to the work while she sipped lemonade on the porch swing with Harry. But those days were gone and she didn’t have 50-bucks to pay the city. She hated asking for help. Calling Drew to rescue her (again) was out of the question.
An hour later, sweated through her cut-off shorts and Michigan State t-shirt, the grass was mowed and Miranda felt a small sense of accomplishment in spite of it all. She returned the old mower to the shed, picked up the Black and Decker weed eater her dad gave her for Christmas– Model ST1000, the one that claims to make ”maintenance trimming a breeze”.
Miranda plugged in the cord, walked toward the fence that bordered the south side of her property, and flipped the switch. No sound. She was, after all, an experienced trouble shooter from her days aboard the old boat. A simple lawn tool was not going to get the best of her. She unplugged the unit and turned the ST1000 upside down to take a look. She pushed on the string cartridge, heard a click, and with the velocity of a whirling dervish, the twine released itself, encasing her with an angry snap.
Mrs. Balthasar turned away from her work to see Miranda wildly flinging her arms this way and that, only making her confinement worse. She called across the yard, “Need a hand, Miranda? I’ve threaded plenty of weed eaters in my day. I’ll just grab my pruning sheers so we can cut you out of that mess.”
Miranda, still flailing, was fuming. Her life had taken a dreadful turn for the worse (though she couldn’t imagine why), and now she was a prisoner of her own making, a Black and Decker captive, a fool in her own front yard.
Then she remembered a list of wise sayings that Drew had taped to his refrigerator. There was one that said, “If you don’t like it, change it.” And that gave Miranda an idea…
“No thanks, Mrs. Balthasar. I won’t be needing any advice or help with weed eaters ever again. In fact, this is the last time you will see me out here mowing, trimming, or otherwise.” Mrs. Balthasar cocked her head, wondering if she heard right.
“From now on I will be devoting my time to something worthwhile, something I’m actually very good at. I’m going out to find a rich husband who will pay a man to take care of my yard so I won’t have to.”
Calling Drew on that fateful day would have made all the difference.
To be Continued…
*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.