The Walter Mitty Swimsuit Edition, circa 1985

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Coffee Break Entertainment
Tags: ,

free public noncopyrighted Christie BrinkleyRemember those crop circles that became famous in England back in the 80’s? You know, the ones that had all those neat round and square geometric designs that were visible from the air? The ones which, when asked, all the locals could say was “I dunno, maybe alien spaceship landing strips, p’raps?” And do you also remember how, in the end, it all turned out to be a hoax, perpetrated by those same locals who really just didn’t get enough attention when they were growing up? Some prime-time network “news magazine,” in typical sensationalist fashion, exposed it all, and also exactly how it had been done. Through the use of only three items: a 4-5 ft. piece of wood, a piece of rope attached to either end of that wood, and a great deal more backbreaking hard work than (I believe) it was worth, some humble villagers outwitted the world, even if only for a few days.

Coincidentally, the exact same thing occurred here in my own neighborhood and, interestingly enough, it happened to be me who created it. But instead of wood and rope, I used an electric lawnmower and an extension cord in creating my crop circles. In fact, about the only thing the job I did had in common with that of the English villagers was the not-worthwhile, backbreaking hard work. Have I got your interest now? I hope not. But, just for kicks, here’s the story:

Last week, I set about organizing the garage, something that needed to be done since last October, when I first moved into this house. It was a mess, with stuff stacked and strewn hither, tither, and yon, as real men never say. Then again, real men place more of a priority on having a neatly organized garage. Hell, I don’t even have a poster of Sports Illustrated’s 1985 Swimsuit Edition poster girl on the wall in there. Do you think my wife would allow that? Well, let me tell you, real womanly wives wouldn’t care. Actually, I think they would, but no real man would ever admit that.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever organized a garage in August anywhere (even in South America, where it’s winter), but all I can say is that it’s hot, sweaty, thankless work. At some point, probably when I was really too tired and long past the point of where I should have stopped, I hurt my back doing the third or fourth “one last thing” before I called it quits for the day. I had been trying to hang up a bicycle-one that I used to be able to ride for hours and hours (and I called it fun, too)-on some hooks I just installed in the garage rafters. At the time, I thought it would be easy. But, as I told my chiropractor the next day “I twisted my back in a funny way as I held up the bicycle, which was much heavier than I remembered. Then, I felt something in my mid-back pop, and I had to let go of it.” After chortling a bit under his breath, my chiropractor restored my spine to its previous, correctly aligned condition.

Here’s the part where the aliens come in: two days later, I was out mowing our front yard with our electric mower. It’s hot, sweaty, thankless work too. On top of that, my throat was parched, and my feet were burning hot, almost enough to melt the rubber tread on my shoes from the inside out. In other words, I felt as if I were walking around on two well done, New York strip steaks instead of human feet. All I could think of was how good some cold water would taste once I finally was done with the gruesome task of mowing the lawn. Why gruesome? Well, it never was before, at least until last week, when I ran over a mouse. Enough said.

Perhaps it was the thought of that poor little mouse and what it endured in its final few seconds of life that gave me the inspiration to keep going, I don’t know. But I do know that I suddenly looked down at the extension cord and realized I was about to run it over. And, as anyone who has ever worked with anything electric at all, ever, cutting the cord means at least two things. First, nothing further gets done. Second, the cut cord either means that it must be fixed or (as I don’t mind admitting, having run over the cord once already this year) it must be replaced with a new one.

So, even though I don’t believe I think very well on my feet, especially when they feel like well-done New York strip steaks, I thought I was making a real genius move when I quickly snatched up the extension cord and, with a sudden flick of my wrist, twirled it out of the way just before running it over.

However, I just as suddenly felt that familiar pop in my mid back and, with half the yard still to mow, I now had to complete the job with a spine that now felt more like Jell-O than bone. Between that and the heat, and the swollen feet, I began to get pretty ticked off. What’s worse, the most difficult part of the lawn to mow-the one that had been taken over by a particularly evil and moist weed which never failed to clog the mower-still remained to be cut.

True to my experience, the mower clogged time and again. Growing angrier with each pass of the mower, I began to bounce the mower front-to-rear to loosen up the sloppy, guacamole-like wet grass underneath. The strategy worked, and left behind greenish piles of sloppy stuff that truly was nightmarish. “Martian guts,” I think I began calling it. I don’t know, I was so hot and out of sorts by this time.

But to my credit, I trudged on until the job was done, though I was thoroughly spent by that time. Down and defeated, I reeled up the extension cord that had been used for the job, cussing at every turn of the crank. Then I went up to the house and unplugged the cord from the wall outlet, then stood upright and proudly marched into the garage where, after closing the door, I nearly collapsed onto the floor in pain.

Instead, though, I stumbled into the living room, my face covered with salty sweat that dripped down my nose and onto my shoes. Little pieces of neatly cut green mulch defiantly stuck to my face, as if daring me to wipe them off with my sleeve-which I did. Then, as I was beginning to feel truly manic, the pain reasserted itself, and I realized that no amount of Tylenol could ever help me then. So, I choked a bottle of vitamin water, and pathetically lay down in a heap on the living room floor, begging forgiveness for all the wrongs I’ve ever done to anyone ever in my entire life. But my beseeching brought me no pity; only after about twenty minutes-as the label on the Tylenol bottle indicated-did my pain eventually begin to subside.

It wasn’t until the following morning, after some sleep and a chance to gather my wits, did I realize what I’d done: looking down onto the lawn from the upstairs window, the way I had bounced the mower back and forth to loosen the wet grass left circular divots on the lawn where the blades had cut more closely than anywhere else. Further, the 21”-width blades-which left corresponding 21” wide lines back and forth across the yard immediately reminded me of the English crop circles. And while maybe my yard didn’t nearly demonstrate the complexity of design those clever English villagers created, it certainly did resemble an alien landing strip more so than could be found in any of my neighbors’ yards.

For some reason, all this alien mumbo-jumbo became a backhanded point of pride for me. I mean, come on – I wasn’t trying to be clever. It’s obvious this was only a lawn mower… Isn’t it? Could my neighbors really be thick as a brick? At least those English villagers created special tools to perpetrate their little hoax. They earned their five minutes of fame-and they bloody well deserved it, too. As for me, I think what I accomplished that day is something only a real man could do. That’s why I’ve decided to order the back issue of 1985’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Perhaps, under Christie Brinkley’s watchful eye, a hoax of this proportion will never happen again. For now, though, all I know is that I’m the only one who seems to have noticed.


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