environment & naturevirtual children by Scott Warnock

The ultimate patriot machine

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I want to be a role model. I want to be a good citizen. I want my kids and their friends to look at me proudly, maybe even marvel a bit. So I do what I can, which has included purchasing the ultimate patriot machine: The reel lawnmower.

Old-timers, excuse my slide into definition for a moment. The reel mower (which from here on I will refer to as the Real — in fact, to make it cooler, the RealX mower) is a human-powered lawnmower. The RealX has two wheels, a simple handle. When pushed, a cylinder between the wheels spins a series of blades across one fixed blade. When grass gets caught in there, it’s done. It gets cut. The device is a thing of beauty and simplicity.

But, more importantly, this elegant technology addresses many problems facing Americans in the 21st century. It’s patriotism machinified. It dissolves social barriers, saves energy, preserves families, and makes the world a (slightly) safer place. To wit:

Gas. The RealX uses no gas. When tending your plot, you no longer have to wonder about your contribution to global terrorism or global warming or global toxicity.

Community relations. Everyone says it. American communities are becoming increasingly atomized. We’re alienated from even those who live next to us. Central air is probably the biggest culprit, but the roaring gas-powered mower is right up there. The RealX mower is pretty quiet, and you don’t have to stop and start it. When you’re mowing with your RealX and your neighbor strolls by, you simply stop pushing and talk, and talk you will, because your neighbor will have questions like, “What on earth are you doing, nature boy?” Still, they will love you for not interrupting their dinners/family barbecues/wiffleball tournaments with your landscaping efforts.

(Of course, this stopping and talking can make a 45-minute mowing job take seven hours, which might impair spousal relations: “Are you still cutting the grass?” This problem will resolve itself when your spouse realizes how much the neighbors like you.)

(Shrewd readers may say, “But I like not talking to my neighbors.” Remember, you don’t have to stop pushing. For those really not interested in community relations, you could even use the RealX as a marker of your technophobia/Ludditeism, especially if you wear sandals and socks while RealX-ing.)

Parent-children relations. Something’s wrong with our kids. There are various culprits: Drugs, video games, soda. But the main problem is the same problem we’ve always had: Most people are bad parents. The RealX can help. See, gas-powered lawn mowing has traditionally been a great way for a parent to act like he’s (sorry, but it’s normally dad) contributing to the household good while avoiding his housemates (family). The quiet RealX allows users to groom their grass and be engaged parents. While cutting, you are still aware of your surroundings and can provide sage parenting advice like “Do not throw that brick at her!” Yes, yelling at kids can add another three hours to the lawn cutting (turning it into a ten-hour project), but it is quality time spent interacting with your brick-wielding kids.

Danger. Despite bike helmets, anti-smoking legislation, and bear hunting season, the world remains a dangerous place. Why add to it with a projectile-flinging, appendage-lopping gas mower? Ever get hit in the eye with a wood chip flying at 100 miles per hour? Not with the RealX. Also, it’s also almost impossible for the RealX to cut a limb thicker than 1” (see below for downsides to this limitation, though).

Allergies. We’re a country of allergic people who sneeze and seize at even at the sight of substances like elm trees, dust, staplers, etc. Many people are so allergic to a thing called “outside” that they can’t cut their lawns at all. But with the RealX, you have a chance. You don’t kick up a haze of dust, grass clippings, and vaporized doggy do. The RealX clips grass. It doesn’t spew it.

Fitness. As a RealX user, you can justify driving two blocks to the gym. Pushing the RealX is work, requiring grunting and sweating, because the thing is propelled by you. If you let your lawn go, the work is really hard. RealX = fitness.

Toy survival. While this is maybe not a national problem on the level of danger, the fact remains that your toys will last longer, as your RealX will not mangle unfortunate dolls, wiffle balls, and jarts like a gas mower happily does.

A few other advantages: The RealX is low maintenance. You only need to brush it off when finished. Really, you don’t even need to do that. I just direct mine into the garage when I’m done. In fact, my maintenance primarily involves thinking about sharpening the blades. People who know such things also claim reel mowers are better for grass.

Finally, being fair, I should close by stating problems with the RealX, of which there are three.

Time suck. Americans enjoy a high standard of living, but they have mainly used this advantage to eliminate all of their free time. The RealX, even adjusting for yelling at kids and talking to neighbors, does take about 10% more time to use. However, remember you never have to go to the gas station before you use it.

Corporate betrayal. Please know that embracing the RealX makes you an outsider to big everything. Because it needs no gas or maintenance, the RealX is shunned by big, powerful companies. I share the American love of big corporations. (Forget Wall St. vs. Main St. CEOs aren’t paid by some Illuminati-controlled centralized CEO pot. They make money because we buy lots of their companies’ products!) But there are solutions. One idea is the development of disposable RealX mowers. After a few uses, you throw them out. Perhaps they could even develop an edible prototype, made of candy canes or something.

Sticks. The main problem with the RealX is sticks. They are the bane of the RealX, which can’t cut even the smallest stick. You need to pick up sticks before you mow. Resourceful parents will make their children do this.

Happy mowing.

Scott Warnock is a writer and teacher who lives in South Jersey. He is a professor of English at Drexel University, where he directs the University Writing Program. Father of three and husband of one, Scott is on two local school boards and coaches all kinds of youth sports.

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6 Responses to “The ultimate patriot machine”

  1. Scott, good for you … seriously, I approve. NOW … if you’ll write about raking up clippings rather than using the even-more-offensive blower, I’ll send in my Scott Warnock Fan Club dues for 2013!

  2. Reasons don’t justify your tight ass not buying a gas powered mower. Creative as always, but know you are not in good enough shape to cut your lawn with that heart attack machine. And anyway, when the first little stick stops that manual blade from turning you are putting it curbside, right next to your coal fire heater and horse drawn carriage. Tight wad.

  3. Scott, I applaud your efforts. Mike and I have been looking at cordless electric, but you went all out. You are a RealX-men. A lawn clipping superhero.

  4. When is the whiffle ball tournament?

  5. Hmm. The Emperor may have to issue an environmentally-conscious decree…

  6. I bought one of those when I was newly married and broke. They work ok for a lawn that is all grass and kept trimmed all the time. Go on vacation or get lazy and that thing is as worthless as using a golf club to mow the yard. You will probably get to meet your neighbors though…. when you need to borrow their mower to cut your grass.

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