As I pulled the cord, heard the motor roar and made the first pass across the front yard, a conversation I had long ago with my father came to mind.
I had tired of mowing the lawn. I'm sure there was a pick-up game to play in or someone's house I wanted to visit. At the very least there had to be something good on television. Anything but that old, unkempt lawn.
I didn't like mowing it. It was big, the weather was hot and I was pretty cold to the idea that it was my responsibility. It was a chore, one that I wanted to avoid if possible. But it was not.
Because when I asked my dad why he couldn't just mow it, he gave me the answer that many fathers have given before: "That's why I had you. To mow the yard and take out the garbage."
Everyone needs a purpose in life, I guess, and my dad made sure I knew mine at an early age. And once I assumed the duty, he never backed off it being my responsibility.
Like all kids, I had some tricks up my sleeve. Make a big enough mess washing dishes and maybe they won't ask you again. Wrinkle the laundry when it's your turn to fold and see if they'll say to heck with it, they'll get it themselves. But there's nothing I could do to that lawn that would earn me a reprieve. Because anything I did to it was something my father didn't have to.
So I mowed and I schemed. I asked if we could pave the front yard, but that was shot down. I wanted to extend the driveway, but that didn't work either. So then I tried to make it easier on myself by buying a riding mower.
I saved my money and bought a used one from a guy in town. I got it home and felt downright regal the first time I used it, sitting and relaxing while taking care of my responsibility. But that feeling didn't last long. The second time I used it, I wasn't able to finish the job before the engine conked out on me.
My savings and my ride gone, it was back to walking the beat. And it never got any cooler or more enjoyable, although it did make taking out the garbage seem like fun in comparison.
Needless to say, I shed no tears when I went to college and left that yard behind. There was no Scarlett O'Hara moment - no "as God is my witness I'll never mow again" moment - but I was happy to be lawn gone.
I managed to stay that way for a good while. But now I'm back in the mowing business, and it's about the same as I remember. It's like riding a bike - if riding a bike is something you were forced to do against your will on a weekly basis.
It's still a chore and it's still my responsibility, but I no longer scheme about ways to get out of it. Instead, I just think about a speech of my own.
E-mail Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns appear on Wednesdays.