You can ask anyone. Ask Ms. Rose (she’s not here right now but she’s not far) and she’ll tell you how long it takes me to pick up the dirty socks I leave on the living room floor. Ask Sir Rose (she’s not here either but is only three hours thataway) and she’ll tell you, well, all sorts of things. Ask Dr. Brutal (apparently his students called him that; he wasn’t supposed to know). He’ll tell you how I’m supposed to throw the rock AT THE BROOM, DAMMIT but I usually throw it at something only I can see twenty feet off to the right. (Or left — I’m flexible that way.)
I don’t always do what I’m told.
But sometimes I do. Like last Friday.
Various people (like ‘everyone that has walked by the house for at least the last three months’) has been telling me that it really was time to trim the radish. (And no, that’s (still) not a euphemism. ‘The radish’ is a three-and-a-half-meter-tall Taxus (not) in the front yard. Once a year it gets a haircut to keep it looking vaguely like, well, a radish.) Since the weather forecast on Thursday mentioned frost and since it looked like a two-day job I started assembling trimmers, clippers, poles, rubber bands, ladders and motivation. (I’ve been looking for that last one for several months. Some days were too hot. Some were too cold. Too wet. Too dry. Something on TV. No clean socks. And so on.)
The montage of tool-assembling wasn’t too tiring so Thursday also included a once-or-twice-over of the bottom two-thirds of the radish and the filling of several large bags with mostly-green detritus.
I was a little disappointed, though. One of the ‘features’ of the Annual Trimming Of The Radish is that it ALWAYS brings a story with it — someone ALWAYS stops by (usually someone I’ve never spoken to in my life) and provides ‘insightful’ commentary. On Thursday, however, no one stopped. No one said anything. No stories. Nada. Bupkis. “Oh well” I thought, “maybe tomorrow.”
On Friday it was more of the same but without the necessity of disturbing puppet images I could spend more time
creating fighting entropy. After about eleventy-zillion years of a not-quite binary search (Math 373 pops up in the damnedest places) for the Ideal Radish I was hot, sweaty, covered in little green bits and above all tired. Was I done? Was it good enough? Could I rationalize quitting? A comfy chair and a cold beverage were looking pretty attractive but there was that little bit near the top that wasn’t quite right…
Just then a couple that I had never seen before walked by, pushing what I’m guessing was their first grandchild in one of those monster strollers that seem all the rage these days. They stopped and cast a (well, really four) critical eye over my feeble attempts at topiary.
“Perfect” they said.
Sometimes I do do what I’m told.