Woods ‘stretch’ helpful on mower

Posted May 15, 2009, at 6:46 p.m.

If the television show “America’s Dumbest Videos” does not have a substation across from Cobb Manor, it should open one.

Remember Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods? She was Nixon’s “gatekeeper” and personal secretary in 1974 when those Oval Office tapes were discovered. Remember the ridiculous stretch she had to make when she “accidentally” erased the five-minute conversation about God knows what?

The press dubbed it the “Rose Mary Woods Stretch.”

That’s what I was doing this week while trying to start my very reluctant lawn mower. You had to be there (thank God you weren’t) to believe it.

You must understand (to fully plumb the depth of the lunacy) that modern riding lawn mowers have numerous pesky safety devices. Like that plastic deflector that must be lifted up with your foot (while the mower is running) to get rid of clogs caused by cutting 3-foot grass that is soaking wet. That is manageable.

The one I hate is that which kills the engine if you remove your ample rump from the seat for any reason. Plus, you cannot start the motor unless that pesky clutch is fully depressed. All of this is fine in a normal, well-run household.

Naturally, the battery was stone-cold dead when I tried to start the mower for the premier mow job of the season. Being a clever mower, I decided to “jump it” with my mighty Tundra. I hand-pushed the mower to the truck and hooked it up with jumper cables, which were miraculously in the truck, right where they were supposed to be.

I depressed the clutch and, after several misfires, managed to start the reluctant beast. If the beast stalled, I would never get it going again. I had to keep my foot on the clutch while carefully removing the cables from the truck and mower batteries. I even managed to close the hood.

But the truck was still running and I was trapped aboard the mower. If I left the truck running for the 90 minutes it took to mow the Cobb Manor lawn, it would drain the tank. I could not get off the mower to turn the truck key off and stop the engine.

By backing the mower up to the truck door, I managed to get the door open, but couldn’t get to the key. You can imagine what the neighbors think of me by now. After bouncing flaming bottle rockets off a few neighbors’ rooftops, I am not a candidate for Mr. Congeniality on Cobb Road.

I was hoping that someone, anyone, would come by. But trying to tell anyone what I needed with the truck motor and the lawn mower going at the same time would have been a challenge.

I switched my right foot to the clutch device, kept my rump in the chair and leaned and leaned and leaned over backward toward the truck ignition. I thought sure I would fall over backward, much to the amusement of “America’s Home Videos,” which was surely filming from across the street.

Just as I was about to fall over backward, I reached the key and turned off the truck.

Then I was off to mow the lawn, pausing only to remove branches and the barbecue grill from my path, still in the seat, using my now familiar Rose Mary Woods stretch.

A wise man, a prudent man, a careful man would buy a new battery. Or at least get the old battery charged to glowing-red power levels.

But I believe I will just jump the mower off the truck again the next time (August) I do the lawn.

Me and Rose Mary Woods.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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