Friday, August 19, 2011


I waved at Eddy when he drove past my house and pulled into his driveway. His truck made a screeching sound before it came to a halt. When he jumped out and ran toward me waving his hands in the air, I thought he had an emergency. I let go of the handle so my lawnmower would stop running.
          “Eddy, what’s wrong?”
          He stopped short of my mower and stared at me. “Hey man, when’s the last time you sharpened the blade on that mower?”
          I looked at the 21 inch Yard Dog I’d purchased at a flea market sale five years earlier. “The guy I bought it from told me he sharpened it.”
Eddy pointed to three or four hundred weeds sticking up all over my yard. “Your blade is so dull it can’t cut the weeds.”
That explained the strange phenomenon I had noticed this mowing season. I’d begun to think I had a fast growing variety in my yard. So fast they grew back right after I mowed over them. It was time to fess up. “Okay, you got me. How do I sharpen the blade, and where is it?”
“Hey, I’ll do it for you.”
He walked over to his truck and pulled a couple of tools out from behind the seat. He removed a long flat thing from my mower in less than 30 seconds. He used something called a bench grinder on his back porch to sharpen it. After he put it back on the mower, he started it up and made a round in my front yard. What a difference it made. There's nothing like the smell of fresh cut weeds in August, especially when someone else is doing the cutting.
He stopped the mower. “What do you think?”
“That’s great. Thanks, Eddy.”
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a card and handed to me.
I looked at it.
Eddy’s Lawn Mowing and Firewood Deliver Service
You grow it, we mow it.
We cut it, you burn it.
In an effort to pay down the debt he and Darla ran up by taking a Florida vacation on their credit cards, Eddy cuts firewood in the spring and sells it in the fall and winter. Now it appeared he had added a lawn service to make a little extra money during the summer months.
“That’s a pretty fancy business card.” I stuck it in my shirt pocket for reference, in case I ever sold a manuscript and made enough money to hire him to mow my yard.
“It’s was Darla’s idea. She said they’d make me look more professional.”
Eddy and Darla are both twenty-two years old. They got married two months after they graduated from high school. Darla is a teacher’s aid during the school year and a life guard at the city pool during the summer break. She’s taking classes to become a classroom teacher while Eddy works his butt off for his father-in-law down at the Co-Op, but to hear Eddy tell it, Darla’s father doesn’t think he’ll ever amount to much. Eddy’s plan is for Darla to get her college degree first, and then Eddy will go to college and get a degree in agriculture.
In an effort to give him moral support, I said, “You know, I bet Darla’s dad has changed his mind about you.”
He shrugged. “When I showed him my business cards, he said I was a regular entremanure.”
A good romance writer has to know the proper way to pronounce every word in the dictionary. Lucky for me, over the years, I had finally worked my way completely through the es.
“I think he meant entrepreneur.”
“Probably not,” Eddy said. “Darla’s dad thinks I’m full of it, and it’s looking like he always will, no matter how hard I try.”
My neighbor has a good heart and works hard. He deserved better treatment from his father-in-law. I needed to act quick before depression set in. "One day he'll surprise you and tell how lucky he is to have you as a son-in-law."
            He dusted some glass clippings off his leg. "I'm not getting my hopes up."
Eddy is one of my two beta readers. I had finished writing the first three chapters of my latest novel, Tumble Weeds and Dry Lips, my first attempt at writing a western romance novel. Maybe it would be a good time to ask him to read my first draft. I looked at my watch, and then pushed the mower under a tree. 
"It’s Friday and after five. What do you say we go hang out on my back deck and have a cold one."
Eddy nodded. “I thought you’d never ask.”
Right after we opened our first beers, I placed my hand on my young neighbor’s shoulder.
“For what’s it worth, I think you’re top notch.”
He smiled. “Thanks, but I still ain’t reading any of that mushy stuff you write.”


  1. Hilarious, Jack! And I love the title of your first attempt at a Western Romance. I would certainly pull that one off the shelf for a read!

  2. Thanks, Jan. You'll be the first to know when TUMBLE WEEDS AND DRY LIPS is available.

  3. You're a wonderful humorist, Jack, and your gardener-in-the-Hamptons persona is brilliant, whether it's fictional or not. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

    Your writing is good enough that I think you'll find a publisher one day. So I'd watch putting the fiction online. Stand-alone comic bits in the voice you use in your bio would be better for your career.

    Here's a quote from agent Meredith Barnes.

    "Many writers serialize their work on their blogs. I cannot encourage you strongly enough to avoid that. Authors nearly always list "getting an agent" as the reason they put "teasers" on their blogs. But there is already a mechanism for showing your work to agents: the query. If you choose to do so anyway you may put yourself breach of the warranties and indemnities clause of the publishing contract that you haven't even signed yet.”

  4. Thank you for the compliments and for the great advice, Anne. I really appreciate you stopping by and checking out my blog.