Monday, March 29, 2010

Man Hunt

As a 40-something spinster, I pride myself on being independent and self-sufficient. I rarely lament the lack of male presence in my life … except at this time of year. A poet once wrote, “In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” In my case, the spring turns my fancy to thoughts of gardening. And I have to admit that a fella would be handy in four key areas of this pastime: startin’, fixin’, totin’ and killin’. Let me expound.

As in lawnmowers, chain saws, cultivators and other equipage that require pulling hard on cords to get them to start. I don’t like pulling on cords. It’s hard, and often results in jammed fingers and sore arms, and is more often than not entirely futile. Because small engines break. A lot. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a weed-whacker start two times in succession. A lawnmower will spontaneously fall apart just sitting in the shed. And when that happens, a man can be useful for …

It seems men like to take things apart. They like to study oily sparkplugs and filters and belts and decide which of them is faulty. That provides a reason to go to the kind of store that carries such items, a source of pleasure in itself, apparently. Every small engine repairman I’ve ever heard of has been, well, a man. On the other hand, every small engine repairman I’ve ever dealt with has been as unreliable as the machines they service. So a mere interest in fixin’ isn’t really enough to tempt me from my single life. However, I could be tempted by a man who’s into …

Gardening involves quite a lot of this. Totin’ heavy bags of mulch from the car to the garden. Totin’ pavers and bricks and other bits of hardscaping. Totin’ wheelbarrowsful of compost or gravel or shrubbery. Totin’ is hard work, especially if you are soft and puny like me. It’s good to have a burly man to do these thing. Especially if he has a totin’ vehicle as well. Ultimately, though, a testosterone-intensive type may be most needed when it comes to …

I am a committed pacifist. I don’t kill anything – not mice, or rabbits or snakes or even bugs. This does not mean, however, that I don’t want these things dead. Fortunately, most men seem peculiarly inclined toward slaughter. Many of them even spend large amounts of time and money engaged in stalking and killing things on land, air and sea. Sadly, the lusher your garden, the more attractive it is to horrible things. Did I mention snakes? Any latter-day St. Patrick who promises to rid my land of serpents could easily sweep me off my feet.

So there you have my criteria for the perfect – albeit seasonal – man. Unfortunately, my theory of “things men are good for” has not actually been borne out by evidence or experience. In fact, all the men in my own family have chronic bad backs, zero mechanical ability and are more terrified of things that slither than I am. And those men I’ve encountered who might have those sterling qualities seem more interested in playing golf or watching sports than in serving as a garden helpmate.

In the end, then, though I concede that there may be some small value to the Y chromosome, I’m content to tough it out on my own. My little slice of Eden might be overrun by unwhacked weeds and swimming in snakes, but it’s all mine.

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