Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Swinging Bridge Hangs Over the River That Runs Through It

Shortly after I met Hick, I bought my first house. Perhaps you've heard me speak of it. Or read my writing about it. The $17,000 house. Uh huh. Now you understand how Hick knew a good thing when he saw it. A woman with a $17,000 house was too good a deal to let her slip through his fingers.

My $17,000 house was not in Backroads, but in a neighboring town, on a corner double lot, two blocks behind the movie theater, and three blocks the other direction from where I would eventually be working for the unemployment office. As with most towns in these parts, it was not laid out on a grid. "You can't get there from here" was more often the rule than the exception.

Within a year of purchasing my home, I made Hick the happiest man in the world by becoming his little woman. Hick loves being handy, and I had a $17,000 house. It was better than a match made on Married At First Sight. He revamped the walkout basement into a little living room and a bedroom for his boys when they visited on the weekends. They never once complained about sharing their bedroom with my washer and dryer. Not many 7- to 9-year-olds had their very own living room in which to cut up and be loud with battery-operated police cars with wailing sirens, with a TV to watch their shows and play video games on uninterrupted.

In the years before Baby Genius was thought of, conceived, and born, Hick and I occupied the only bedroom upstairs. He would later build a new bedroom onto the back of the house, but at this point, he was busy replacing the cabinets in the kitchen, remodeling the bathroom, enlarging the front porch, and adding a bump-out computer nook in the living room. Because how great do you think a $17,000 house is, anyway?

I took it upon myself to mow the double yard. After all, Hick was busy with the house projects. And I had the summer off to do it. I am a push mower kind of gal. None of those fancy riding mowers for me. I still don't understand how some of them turn by pushing separately-acting right and left handlebars forward. Hick, on the other hand, is a gadget guru. He wanted a riding mower. I'm sure he found it at an auction or a second-hand shop, because we were not all that rich, despite the fancy mansion I provided for us to live in. We kept my push mower, a Sears Craftsman bought for me by my dad when I lived far away, in the old shed attached by the back porch roof, with a rotten board floor that Hick put a foot through. (The lawnmower, that is. I did not live in the old shed.) The riding mower, used by Hick on occasional weekends when he just really wanted to be outdoors and show off for the neighbors, was parked behind the house, under the air conditioning unit in the kitchen window. Hick put a random piece of corrugated tin on top of it to keep the rain off.

I was driving an hour each way to work at a school in what was once the population center of the U.S. Hick was driving an hour each way to the city. By nightfall, we were tired. A quick supper and perhaps an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, and we were ready to hit the sack. Technically, the waterbed. Hick was a swinger.

So there we were one night, snug as a slug in a water jug, all cozy and warm on our flotation mattress, Hick sawing logs, Val snoozing like a princess with nary a pea on the horizon...when there came a pounding on the front door. We both startled awake. Hick grabbed some shorts (because, you see, he was a swinger) and stumped to the living room. I could hear his conversation with a policeman. I was only15 feet away. How big do you think a $17,000 house is, anyway?

"Are you Hick Thevictorian?"

"That's me."

"Do you have a riding lawnmower?"


"Do you know where it is right now?"

"Behind the house. Under the kitchen window."

"Do you mind checking to see if it's there?"

"No. Let's go look."

I didn't hear the rest. A $17,000 house DOES have walls, you know. When Hick returned, he told me the lawnmower was missing. That the policeman knew where it was, though. It had made a trip across the swinging bridge that spanned the river two blocks over. The bridge that you had go through the woods to get to, or take a detour a couple of blocks left, then backtrack to the steps leading UP to the swinging bridge, cross over the wood planks on cables, then DOWN the steps on the other side of the swinging bridge, assuming it didn't swing too wildly and toss you off. Which wouldn't matter, really, because the river wasn't wild or deep unless there was a couple of inches of rainfall in 24 hours. In fact, it was kind of a flat river.

Seems that two teenage boys, one unknown to me, one a former student who had no idea I lived there, had stolen our riding lawnmower, and PUSHED it down the street, and CARRIED it across the swinging bridge, and were in the act of pushing it down another street when the policeman in his cruiser came upon them, and figured something just wasn't right. They confessed that they had stolen the riding mower from our house, because they were really tired of pushing it.

Hick dived back into bed, nearly tossing me overboard on a tidal wave. "I don't know why they didn't just ride it. The key was in the ignition."


  1. Replies
    1. And he sometimes misses the forest while sizing up the trees for future boards in his latest themed shed.

  2. Luckily, THAT question ("What do you do when you encounter a riding mower that you've stolen, and the key is in the ignition?") is NOT on the state test.

    I guess if it was, and it was answered correctly, it would mean that student would score "advanced."

    1. Yet instead, they give the biology students a paragraph about a pharmaceutical salesman and his display, and actually want them to measure a drawing in centimeters using a drop-down ruler.

      Yet the pupils are hung up on "What does pharmaceutical mean?" "You can't tell us?" "Pronouncing it didn't help." So they guess.

  3. Maybe they thought they stole your push mower.

    Doug and Jamie live in our NJ town. We keep looking for them but so far nothing. I'd love to buy him a dirty water cocktail.

    1. Maybe Doug is avoiding you. Perhaps having a dirty-water cocktail with you is on his bucket list that he wants to accomplish before having a baby. Because I get the impression that he really just does not want a baby.