“Yooo gotta have heart…” crooned the radio I found in the basement. I didn’t even know there were still radio stations. Had to figure everything was online by now –or reflected off of a satellite. But the radio was belting out hits of yesteryear –all of the artists dead and buried. Here I was listening to these songs and recognizing them, able to name their performers. Not something I can do with today’s artists. Nowadays all these kids are out there under the spotlight and I have absolutely no clue who they are. Anyway, I listened to the radio and sat looking into my back yard, lamenting how much the grass had grown. My brand new, super sleek, much too expensive lawn tractor threw its blade off and the lawn had gone unattended while I awaited the parts to fix my beloved mobility mower.
In order to fix the mower, I had to lift it. Since I had no jack that would fit it, I had to locate a jack. Turned out that the best I could do was a tractor jack made for my tractor, available from good old Sears. It’s basically an L shaped chunk of steel tubing with wheels mounted at the bend of the ‘L.’ You hook it under the front frame member and lay the ‘L’ on its back and the front of th tractor lifts up about eight inches. Enough to reach under the cutting hood and replace the blade. I noticed that the blade had suffered abuse in the first couple of months of ownership, the blade having lost its edge. The last bit of mowing was done by brute force rather than cutting. That meant that I needed to sharpen the blade, and so of course I bought a bench grinder. I was now well equipped, what with a tractor, a 48″ cutting deck, a snow plow, sweeper, broadcast sprayer, jack and grinder. This brought me to the conclusion that tractors were actually a lot like heroin. The salesman hooks you into buying a tractor and then bleeds you for life over fixes of accessories.
The radio kept playing and I tried to imagine Frank Sinatra riding a garden tractor. The image failed, but for some reason I could picture Bing Crosby scooting across a lawn on one. I dispensed with the images, considering that neither of them happened to be on the radio. Herb Alpert was blowing away on his trumpet and I turned my attention back towards by crippled tractor. There was a time that I would have had the thing fixed and back reeling in the years in minutes. But these days I have to sit back and try to direct others in how I would like my devices repaired. This always produces squeaks and squawks from me as people take pliers to the nuts and bolts instead of using the set of perfectly good box end wrenches I have produced for the event. That might be one of the most difficult parts of disability; having to rely on others to do things we are actually very good at –which is to say that there is something to the expression about having to do a job yourself if you want it done right. At the moment, I don’t even have anyone available to do it wrong, and that’s why I’m listening to old music on an old radio while looking at my pretty black but wounded tractor.
I toasted my machine with a glass of Coke, saying “you and me kiddo!” as an homage to the fact that we are disabled together. Of course, the tractor’s problems can be solved by a bit of mechanical endeavor where as my problem is a bit more of a poser. I wish I could simply buy some off the shelf parts and replace the worn and abused parts of my body, perhaps shaping bits of it with that bench grinder. There are times that I wonder if the medical research field has actually figured out ways to repair the body, but using the mandate of planned obsolescence, the miracles are being held back. You know, like Detroit is doing with all of those cars that run on water instead of gas.
I turn to look at the radio, snapping my head so fast that it makes a crunch noise. Frankie Avalon is singing “Beach Blanket Bingo.” That does not belong in the run of music that has been played and it yanks me from my conspiracy theory reverie. I give the tuning knob a twist and find a country music station. Hank Williams Junior is singing and that means I need to turn the tuning knob faster. I don’t care what genre of music it is, I really hate nasal whining. For some reason, whenever I hear someone whining nasally, I think of Jerry Springer guests, each holding a beer and trying to explain their political views as they relate to infidelity, big rig trucking, and honky tonk bars with sawdust on the floor to soak up the beer, blood and urine that gives the air such an indescribable odor. The spell is broken, and my tractor becomes just another of the things I need to address in my growing to do list. At least the weather is warming up. It’s looking like we might have a nice summer.
I turned off the old radio and carried it back down to the basement where I would let it sit for another few years of inattention. When I got the radio, my world had room for a lot more music than it apparently does now. I bought the boom box at a K Mart for $35 back in the wonderful days that I had never heard of Multiple Myeloma and cancer was something other people had. Somewhere along the way between then and now, my education and experience have caused major changes in preferences and priorities, and somehow music doesn’t have the import it once did. I used to have music playing in the background all of the time. Come to think of it, I have entire disk drives filled to capacity with the music of my lifetime. Music which, I might add, did not include the run of tunes I had been just listening to. While I recognized the music and could hum or sing along should I choose, the music my radio played was the B side to the albums that scored my path of life. It was popular at the same time as the rock and roll to which I pay homage. Now my $35 radio is a kind of time machine; a diversion to pull out occasionally. I let it act as a muse to see where those thoughts take me, only to find myself in the cul de sac which is my pathetic life.
Did I mention my tractor was broken?