Sheltered Islander: How to Get a New Lawn Mower on Shelter Island

About this time of year, the regular guy on Shelter Island starts seeing himself on a new John Deere riding mower, complete with drink holder, GPS, and wi-fi access — so he can communicate instantly with other Island lawn masters. Yes, men get starry-eyed for that new deluxe mower. They touched it in the store. The smooth, glossy new paint and the soft, luscious curve of the chassis. They’ve touched that bright yellow seat, felt the foam padding and stitching and flipped onto the seat to feel the ergonomic design with its tilling adjust features. I thought I’d give the guys a few pointers on how to get the expense past the Island woman.

The first step is manipulating the Island woman into suggesting you buy a new lawn mower — it needs to be her idea. Begin by letting the grass grow a little too high. Tell her you have to get parts to tune up your old mower before you can use it. Be sure to be wearing a raggedy shirt. Smell like motor oil. Blacken your fingernails, if possible, so it looks like you’ve been working on the problem. Tell her you’ll just have to hire someone for this first mowing because it’s cost-effective right now. She’ll pay for it, but with a condition that you hurry up and fix the old mower.

Next, go to the hardware store, spend just under $100 on things you need (but you don’t really have to fix the old mower). Buy a new hose, ladder, or whatever you need, but don’t go over one hundred bucks.

Find something that will record sound on a 20-minute continuous loop. Go to a workshop and record the buzzy sounds, tool movements and tools dropping, and the occasional swear word helps. When she comes home, get in the garage and stay there. Play the tape loud enough so she can hear while you watch TV with earphones for the next 90 minutes. Afterwards, go into the house smelling of machine oil, tell her you think you made progress, then go clean up for dinner.

Slowly, the grass will grow too high again. This time, while she’s home, try to cut the grass with the old mower. Be sure to have difficulty. Get about a third of the job done and tell her the mower quit. You’ll have to go buy more parts next weekend, so you’ll have to call someone else to finish the job today.

Now is when she will begin to ask you questions that are critical. “Well, do you really think you can fix it? We’ve got $100 into this repair so far plus the $200 we’ve paid for extra mowing, so we’re about $300 in. That’s half-way to a new lawnmower.”

Correct answer: “You’re right, honey. But, I’d hate to buy a new mower unless we absolutely need it.”

Her response will be, “All right, just make one more try. But don’t spend a lot. If it can’t be fixed, then we go get a new one. You have to know when to stop throwing good money after bad.”

After this statement, guys, you’re home-free! Quickly sell your old still-working lawn mower, and tell her you sold it for parts and you can give her that money toward the new mower. You’ll be making those new super-tight turning circles in no time!

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