This past week my wife gave me a choice. Usually, I only get non-optional proposals, leaving no room for negotiations. Like, “Take out the garbage right now or else.” I’m tempted some time to find out what that “or else” is all about.
However, this time I had a choice. It’s nice having choices. That’s what America is all about — choices.
On Thursday morning, while pouring my second cup of coffee, my better half looked at me and said, “Honey ...”
I’ve been married long enough to know that “honey” comes from bees — and bees carry stingers. I knew a stinger lurked in my vicinity and I grew a little apprehensive.
“Honey, would you like to go to the mall with me and the girls, or would you rather stay home and mow the back yard?”
What a choice. I could spend the day with a dull roar in my ears, or listen to the lawnmower.
“My dear,” I said while looking out the window at the back yard, “I sure would love to go with you and the girls to the mall but that back yard really looks like it needs a good mowing.”
“Well,” she said, looking at me a little suspiciously, “I suppose you’re right. The back yard really does need to be mowed. It’s a good day for it and it shouldn’t take all day.”
Some choices are so easy they don’t seem like choices at all. My option to stay home and mow the back yard fit into that category of “easy choices.”
After my wife and daughters left for the mall I drifted to the garage, dusted off the mower, gassed it up and headed for the back yard with every intention of spending the morning mowing it. Heaven knows, it needed it, and I promised my wife I would do it.
That certainly was a recipe for getting the job done. Just as I was about to pull the cord and fire up the old lawnmower a thought struck me.
My neighbor is elderly and doesn’t get up early in the morning. Out of deep respect for my neighbor — that’s just the kind of neighbor I am — I decided to wait until he got up before starting the lawnmower. After all, I reasoned, I had all day to mow the back yard and my wife was sure it would not take all day.
Nothing is worse than being aroused from a sound sleep by your neighbor’s loud lawnmower. Moreover, if he chooses to sleep until noon, I’ll respect that, too. My wife, I’m sure, would be proud of my consideration of other people.
While respecting my neighbor’s “feelings,” I decided to pass the time with a good book. Before long, I found myself deep in the plot of an intriguing mystery. Surely, I had enough time to finish this book. After all, the tender words of my wife still rung in my ears, “It won’t take you all day to mow the back yard.”
Eventually, I began to feel a gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach. I don’t need an alarm clock to know when its lunchtime. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 or 12 or 2, when the gnaws come, it’s lunchtime.
With resolve, I said to myself, “Self, I’ll get to the lawn right after a refreshing lunch.” Nobody, and I’m sure my wife would agree, could do anything, especially mowing the lawn, on an empty stomach.
After lunch, another thought occurred to me. The noise of a lawnmower can disturb my delicate digestive system. In respect of this, I decided to take a nap. After a bracing nap, I would assault the back yard with all the vigor I could muster.
When I awoke from my siesta, around two, I shuffled into the back yard to tackle the task at hand. I took a long look at the mower and then stared at the grass. It looked like it had grown five inches since the morning.
A Bible passage came to mind: “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth …”
I did not have biblical grass. None of it was withering under the burning sun. It just stood there staring at me in a haunting, taunting fashion as though it could read my mind.
Just then, I had another thought.
The neighbor on the other side of my house likes to take a nap about this time of day. He, too, is elderly and has been experiencing some physical problems of late. Out of deep respect for my neighbor, I decided not to disturb his much needed nap with my boisterous lawnmower.
When the Lady of The House got home later that day, she found the back yard in the same condition as when she left.
“You haven’t mowed the lawn yet,” she observed.
“Well,” I stammered, “I fully intended to. See, I even got the mower out of the garage but I was worried the noise would upset my neighbor.”
She said, “Do it now.”
“Well,” I stammered again, “I think the noise would be bothersome, especially when everyone is eating.”
“Everyone won’t be eating,” she said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because you won’t be eating until the lawn is mowed.”
In that wonderful and sweet way of hers, she graciously explained to me that being a good neighbor was not one of the choices presented to me in the morning.
We then agreed I would mow the back yard before supper. Some of my best arrangements have no choices in them.
But I still like choices.
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