Metacarcinus magister

Yesterday, R. came home from wherever he was at about noon.  “Hey, anybody home?”

“Yeah, I’m just getting up from a nap,” I reply.

“A nap? Seriously?  It’s barely noon.”

“I’ve had a big day.”


“I know!” I say proudly.   “I took the lawnmower in to be fixed.”  Which doesn’t sound like much, but it didn’t just start yesterday.  It started three months ago, when there was that part, remember, when the grass was growing madly, but time off and a break in the rain never coincided?  And when they finally did come together, the grass was a foot tall.  I could start the lawnmower, but the part that makes it go forward, and we’ll call that the drive shaft, whether or not it really is that, has been disconnected because a mouse chewed through the cable. I ignore the problem for a while and just push the lawnmower, essentially replacing the drive shaft with me, but it’s a ton of work, and I’m not really that excited about spending my time on the planet that way.  But sometimes it’s easier to work around stuff that’s broken rather than fix it.  I learned that at my workplace, by the way, and I’m not recommending it as a strategy.

All this by way of saying that I vacillate between not wanting to have the house that looks unlived in, and thinking, sheesh, can we behave any more like a gerbil on a wheel?  Where in the world did it get decided that long grass is a problem?  Not wanting to be gerbil on a wheel wins, and the grass is now two feet tall.

But one day, I run into Lawnmower Man at the coffee shop and ask if he still fixes lawnmowers.  He says sure, just drop it off sometime. But I don’t really know where he lives, and I don’t feel like asking, and first I need to get R. to help me load it into the truck, and we’re having that problem of not being home at the same time with the same idea in mind, and that phase lasts for a few weeks. I finally start leaving notes all over the house, and sending him text messages at random times, “Load lawnmower.”  Earlier this week while I was at work, the boys with the same name put it in the truck.

It sits in the truck for a few days, but I get up early yesterday and start thinking about taking it in, and then actually make a motion to do so.  I get into the truck, which smells like mice live in it, maybe because they do.  As an after thought, I toss the weed whacker in, which also doesn’t work. I start the truck and it sounds like the last person who drove it, which could well have been me, I’m not trying to point the finger or anything, but that person put really low octane gas in it, and it barely idles.  I sputter into town, wondering where Marv lives. 

I go to the coffee shop and drink coffee for a while, hoping I might run into him or at least get a little buzz.  Neither happens, but I do get my horoscope from the barista.  After a while, I leave and drive around to look for Marv.  This might sound ridiculous, but seriously, I only drive about 2 blocks when I encounter him in his beat up truck.  I flag him down, and follow him to his house, which, coincidentally, is about 4 houses away from the house that actually has the sign about fixing lawnmowers.  Yeah, that’s a different guy.

He tells me it was a pretty good idea to just look for him by driving around, because he’s training his dog.  This seems to involve letting the dog sit in the back of the pickup, driving around, and yelling, “Shut up!” to the dog as he barks wildly.

I’m embarrassed about how poorly my truck is running, and especially because we both know it’s about cheap gas.  It’s sort of like going to the dentist with spinach between your teeth.  I am wearing a giant sign that says, “Yeah, I don’t take care of engines.  At all.”

He looks at my lawnmower and is all, “wow, this one’s really different.  I’ve never seen one like this.”  This doesn’t give me confidence, because sheesh, it’s a major mass-produced national brand lawnmower. But I feel like I’ve been on a giant expedition to get here, and there’s no turning back.  He starts asking me why it’s designed a certain way, and what this and that cable do, and I’m thinking, wtf, if I knew that stuff, I’d fix it myself.  He tells me he might have to special order the cable.  Seriously, how unique can this particular bundle of wires be?  I give him a wad of cash and my phone number, and drive away feeling incredibly accomplished.

So accomplished, in fact, that I have this surge of momentum, and go to the hardware store to buy paint for my deck, and to see if they sell crab fishing licenses.  When I enter the store, a woman greets me with a big friendly “Hi!”  I assume that I know her but just don’t recognize her, which, sadly, happens far too often.  “Hey!,” I say, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, because it turns out she’s just selling tickets to the local garden tour.  I end up buying a ticket just to get out of it, and she’s all, “Just one?  Just one ticket?  It will take two hours, you know, with all the questions and talking to people.”

I realize there’s no way I’m going on the stupid garden tour because it will just make me feel sorry about the pathetic state of my yard, but it was only five dollars, and I haven’t blown any money on a lottery ticket yet this week, so it seems okay. 

The whole thing throws me off so much, though, that I forget to look into crab fishing licenses.

I explain this to R. “So, you can see why I needed a nap when I came home.”

The phone rings then, and R. answers it.  It’s Marv, who has said a requiem mass for the weed whacker, and recommends some interventions on the lawnmower. 

“Mom, I think you know lots of people who could hook you up with weed.  I’m just saying.”

“Do you want to go crabbing with me tomorrow, R.?”


“Yeah, we’d leave at 6:30 and drive to Puget Sound with our nets and stuff.”

“Um, really, your girlfriends don’t want to go?  I’m sure The Author would be all over that.”  He’s joking, because he knows that will never happen.  “Seriously, I’d love to go, but I’ll be sound asleep then. And Mom?  We don’t have ‘nets and stuff’, by the way.”

I’m pretty sure I won’t find anyone who’s as excited about crabbing as I am, because the evening before, I had asked Yogini Mama in front of her 9 year old son, which seems like it might gain some momentum, right?  A nine-year old, the beach, catching things?  But we got distracted with trying to remember the taxonomy of different species, and embarrassingly, we were stumped right off the bat.  “Wait, what’s the phylum for homo sapiens?”  She remembered chordata, but it got us off the crabbing topic.

I ask Nurse Lady if she wants to go crabbing, and she’s quick to say, “You know, you can just buy crab at the store.”

“Yeah, but it wouldn’t be as fun.  Don’t you have that hunting / gathering instinct?  Like, we get up really early, and get to the beach before the low tide, and…”

She interrupts before I finish.  “That phrase, ‘get up really early’ is where it stops sounding fun.  You bring us some crab and I’ll make the drinks,” she adds.

I’m almost getting into this whole rejection thing, because it’s so unfathomable to me.  Who wouldn’t want to go crabbing?  Seriously.  As a last resort, I ask Book Babe.  Not because she’s a last resort as a person to spend time with.  No, quite the opposite.  But, well, she had that incident of I dunno, I think it was paralytic shellfish poisoning or something.  I’ve forgotten the details but it may have involved her throat swelling closed while she was driving home from a restaurant after eating cioppino. She may or may not have near death experience, and there may have been an epi-pen involved.  As I say, I don’t recall except to think she’s pretty unlikely to want to catch crabs, but surprisingly, she said yes!  I know!  So that’s coming up in our future.


  1. shoot. I wrote something and my computer malfunctioned!

    Anyway, as I said....that Nurse Lady sounds like me.....! Exactly what I would have said!

    However...I would have gone with you anyway just to break up the monotony of my day.


  2. CC, that's the beauty of being imaginary friends! You don't have to actually go crabbing, but you get all the points for saying you'd go! :-)

  3. May I come? I like to watch that sideways dance they do, and the ferocious claws waving, like "You come one step closer and I'll pinch you!"

  4. Sure, Mike! You're in. Crack o' dawn, low tide.

  5. I said I'd go crabbing with you, not catch crabs. I already did that at a dirty hostel in Switzerland, I think it was, in about 1974.....
    book babe?

  6. Sorry about the crappy gas! Maybe it was me!


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