My husband’s work takes him away for long periods of time, sometimes a whole day, and for me each time is like a rehearsal for widowhood. I get to test life without him. When he’s away, I either indulge in things he doesn’t like…writing or watching movies about tormented writers…or I pick a chore I don’t like, but feel I need to prove I can do in the event that my husband dies before I do. Today I decide to tackle weed-whacking, a job that involves power tools as I understand them…anything that runs on electricity and can be held in my hand. There are few power tools I feel comfortable with…an electric pencil sharpener, electric eraser, a toaster, and some vacuum cleaners. But today, I feel an urgency to validate my self-sufficiency.
So I go out into the back yard and hunt through my husband’s collection of large rusty metal things and find his Black and Decker GrassHog XP. I scrounge further for a cord, plug it in and away I go. Whack, whack, whack and it’s done. Easy peasie, I am woman and all that…
No such luck.
His GrassHog has none of the plastic line that whacks the weeds and the bundle of it I found on the ground by the shed doesn’t fit in the tiny hole in the bobbin thing inside the whacking part I’ve dismantled. So I drive to Ace Hardware and talk to a friendly young dude who seems to know more than me. This is a no-bump whacker which means the line uses centrifugal force to come out. That’s what the kid at Ace told me while I had flashbacks of the physics class I got a C in thirty years ago. I buy a roll of smaller line and head home, follow the instructions the youth gave me, put the thing back together and turn it on. Well, some force sent the line flying out in a blast of ankle-biting segments.
My grandpa’s lived in the generation that knew how things worked. They were fixers. Not my actual grandpas, but other people’s grandpas from that generation. So today I consulted Grandpa YouTube. On my phone, I watched a helpful stranger sitting on his back steps as he explained for 9 minutes and 5 seconds in a kind and patient old-man voice how to refill a Black and Decker GrassHog XP. Turns out there is a magic screw that needs unscrewing. Before I consulted with my online grandpa, I had removed the spool without unscrewing the screw and doing so led to chaos and bloody ankles. When I took the screw out before removing the spool and then put it back in after the spool was in place, the machine worked. It’s mysteries like this that make me leery of power tools. I used the magic screw method three times before I finished a third of the backyard and ran out of line.
The yard is done enough for me to know I’ll be able to handle widowhood, at least as far as whacking weeds goes, so long as I subscribe to Grandpa YouTube’s uploads. Time to go inside to write this. Or maybe watch Angel at My Table again.