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Publisher iUniverse, Inc.
I REMAINED CONVINCED THAT FINDING a normal Mormon young man or lady was still the answer. I liked the idea of their not drinking and smoking. Hopefully I would be fortunate enough this time to find one who did not chase the opposite sex up and down the shopping mall on a daily basis.
My search began by again contacting the Mormon churches and universities in the Midwest. I took my time and carefully conducted a preliminary telephonic interview with each candidate. For those who appeared to be the most appealing in their interviews, I tried to be as diligent as possible and check out their references. I felt no sense of panic this time because Janet still had no interest in leaving. She was quite content with having the car, which I provided at her disposal. She was having a great time chasing boys on a daily basis. I still think about how she shook up some of these local boys who had never been chased by an aggressive female in all the years of their young lives.
After what seemed like forever, I received a call from a young lady who had just graduated from Brigham Young University. She had received her degree in teaching, but did not want to settle in Utah. She had seen the notice that I had asked the school to post on its bulletin board. The job I was offering seemed to fit into her plans perfectly.
She wanted to come east as a nanny for a year. During that time, she planned to look for a teaching job in the New York or Connecticut area that would begin in the following year. In fact, we agreed that if she could have the opportunity to substitute teach at the local schools on a few occasions, which would be just fine so long as it created no conflict with her primary function of caring for Matt. He was now twelve years old and I was not so concerned about him being alone for short periods of time. In fact, if I had not continued to face the demands imposed by travel in my job, I probably would not have needed any more nannies. Matt was now old enough to get home from his nearby school by himself. He was also independent enough to care for himself until I would get home from work—or to simply call me at the office in emergencies. But the complications in his life brought on by my travel absolutely required another nanny.
Thus, I offered Pammy the job and she immediately accepted it. I thought I had struck gold! I was beside myself with the excitement of having someone mature on board and educated to boot. Consequently, it now became time to arrange for Janet’s departure. Surprisingly, she accepted the news without any anger, actually making her departure into a pleasurable event for all concerned.
Shortly thereafter, the “changing of the nannies” procedure was put into effect once again. This time, it went according to plan and we began the Pammy Era, which, to the surprise of us all, lasted almost three years.
Pammy was a very bright, medium built, young athletic woman. She had a wonderful, bubbly personality, which both Matt and I responded to immediately. She was actively involved in cycling and jogging. In retrospect, you could say she was obsessed with those two activities. She brought her racing bicycle with her and hardly a day went by when she didn’t go cycling. In the beginning, she got Matt interested in cycling and they went together on many excursions.
When she wasn’t cycling, Pammy could be found jogging. She especially liked to enter the local jogs for almost any cause in the surrounding towns. Eventually, she trained to run in the New York Marathon. I can still remember the day she came home from that race. She had to be carried up the stairs to her bedroom where she remained for two full days unable to move as a result of muscle spasms. I was the nanny, the cleaning lady, breadwinner, and food provider for those days. Pammy was also emotionally upset because she had been unable to finish the marathon. As a matter of fact, that weighed heavily on her for some time.
She was clearly the best nanny we had found since Brigitta, our very first, four years before. She involved Matt in her sports and she went to his sport functions. They had an excellent relationship and we were all ecstatic to have found such a perfect arrangement. I remember so well thanking God for helping me finally find a sane individual to live with us. By now, I was traveling away from home several days during each quarter, and, most importantly, I felt confident that everything at home was well under control.
It was spring when Pammy arrived that year. Along with spring, always came the hassle of mowing our big lawn plus the ordeal of pruning the trees and bushes on the weekends. If it rained over a weekend, I could count on facing a big challenge the following weekend. Trying to mow the long, spring grass growth with our old mower (which I had managed to get repaired the previous summer) was an awful chore. Yet it took only a brief peek at my tight budget to remind me that I could not afford to pay for a lawn service.
It was such a weekend, when I had been unable to mow the lawn during the previous weekend, that I decided to break down and buy a mower that I could sit on to drive. I convinced myself that it was such a good idea that I would put it on my credit card and pay for it on time. I was sure that my weekend misery would disappear forever.
I was so excited about the idea that I went charging off immediately to a lawn equipment store. I had hardly set foot in the showroom when I saw it sitting there—the savior of my weekends! That was the good news. The bad news came when I asked if they could deliver it that day. The answer was a big fat no. They explained that it couldn’t be delivered until the following week since it was so large that it needed to be delivered on a flatbed truck.
IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY COME to the conclusion on your own, what happened next may serve to remind you of what kind of a Type A character I am. Needless to say, simply turning around and going home to yet another weekend of mower-less servitude was not a solution I could live with. Our lawn already had several inches of growth from the two rainy weeks of bad weather we had just experienced. Besides, I had plans for the following weekend. I needed to have that mower at home today and get the job done now.
With that in mind, I asked, “How fast does that mower go?” I don’t really remember the speed he told me, but I knew it was fast enough to drive on the side of our streets. That’s when I told the salesman, “I’ll take the mower as it is, just get it out of the showroom and onto the driveway for me. I’m going to drive it home myself.” He was aghast, saying, “You can’t take a lawn mower out on the roads.” He obviously didn’t know to what extent a desperate woman would go to when the need arises. I decided that driving the mower home, which was only three miles away, was the only sensible solution for me. I then asked the salesman if I could use his telephone to call a local friend.
I called Ginny, the same friend who had helped me get Sally out of my house. I discussed my over-the-road travel plan with her and explained that I needed her big station wagon behind the lawn mower on the road to protect my rear end. I figured I could protect my front, but I didn’t want some hot-rodding teenager to clobber my backside. Ginny’s response was the same as always, “I’ll be right there.”
When she arrived at the lawn shop, we plotted our course to my house. It quickly became evident that we would have to use Route 1, the old Boston Post Road for a short distance. That would be the most dangerous part of our journey. After that, the rest of our miniparade could take back roads. In fact, I proudly told Ginny that I could even avoid being on the road at one point by crossing through the grounds of the school Matt attended.
Now we were ready to move into action. I got on the mower, started the engine, put on my darkest sunglasses, and topped off my disguise with a wide-brimmed hat. After all, I had no desire for any of my neighbors to confirm what were probably already their suspicions—that I was an absolute fruitcake. I clearly needed to avoid being recognized.
We took to the roads. You can imagine the double takes I got from other drivers and pedestrians as I moved slowly along the roads toward my home in my new recreational vehicle. I was laughing so hard, that at times, it was hard to concentrate on my driving. Ginny protected my backside, which did, indeed, turn out to be especially important when we hit the crowded Boston Post Road. Finally, after enduring a certain amount of horn blowing and a few nasty comments from other drivers, we were able to leave the Boston Post Road for the easy part of our journey along the less-traveled back roads.
Finally, we reached Matt’s school. As planned, I chugged through the schoolyard while Ginny proceeded along the road to await my exit at the other end of the school ground. The plan, of course, was to limit my time on the roads as much as possible.
Unfortunately, most plans go awry somewhere and this is the point where my mower delivery strategy hit a snag. I clearly didn’t expect what happened next.
As I came around the side of the school, not far from where Ginny was waiting to follow me, there was a police car parked in the schoolyard. Unfortunately for me it was occupied—inside sat a policeman. He appeared to be on a break. When he first looked up at me coming toward him in the mower, he looked puzzled, but then looked away. I could almost read what was going on in his mind—each of his several glances at me indicated the questions he was asking of himself: “Why is a woman mowing the schoolyard lawn?” Then came, “Why is she mowing the lawn on a Saturday afternoon?” Finally, he saw that the cutting blade was not down cutting the lawn at all. The final question hit him when he saw me leave the school yard and enter the road where Ginny was waiting: “What in the h—is this woman up to?” I was only about a half-mile from my home and feeling pretty good about myself when the dreaded police siren sounded and scared me half out of my wits. I was pulled over to the side of the road, and out came the policeman’s first vocal question: “What do you think you’re doing?” To which I replied, “I just bought this mower and I’m driving it home.”
“You can’t drive a mower on the roadways. I’m going to have to give you a ticket for this and not allow you to go any further,” came the reply.
Now I panicked. Not because I was to receive a ticket, but because I wouldn’t be able to mow my lawn. I had to talk fast and hard to save the day from becoming a total disaster. As I recall, my plea went something like this: “Oh please, Officer, I need to get home to mow my lawn. I just bought this mower at the lawn shop, and I’m only a half mile from my home. Please escort me and let me get it home. I’m a single mother who works, and I have to do the outdoor chores on the weekends. Please don’t stop me now.”
It worked! He took pity on me and said, “I’m going to pretend I didn’t see this event. I’m going to turn my car around, go the other way, and assume you go straight home and never do this again.” I thanked him profusely, started up the mower engine after he left, and, of course, did go directly home.
When I arrived there, I decided to park it neatly in the garage next to my car just to see if it fit comfortably in that space. I wasn’t used to changing gears from forward to reverse since I had only used the forward gears on the way home. In my attempt to fit it into the perfect spot in the garage, my poor gear shifting forced the vehicle backward and I ended up crashing into the side of my car. I had indeed received the answer to my question—the mower fit, but I now had some repairs to do on my car. Fortunately, they were minor compared with the aftermath of Janet’s drive through the garage door.
That mower was the best purchase I ever made. Every time I had to do the lawn I would think, “Thank God I bought this.” It made my life so much easier on the weekends. I didn’t have to worry anymore about whether it rained or not. I could do the lawn so fast that, even on a work night, it was now possible to accomplish the task. I would jump into it, start it up, put it into high speed (It doesn’t surprise you that I never used low speed, does it?), and whiz around the yard. I did that for the next four years until, one day, I was whipping around the outside of the lawn hedges when the front axle broke. The outside front wheel flew off, sending me into the street and the mower rolling after me. That was the finale. Fortunately, I was only bruised and by now was able to afford a lawn service. I sold the mower to the son of a friend who wanted to get it fixed up for himself.
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Elaine is a native of Boston and has lived for four years in Tokyo and three years in Rio de Janiero.