Black Dad Chronicles: The Lawn Mower. 

Happy Friday Readers! 

If you don’t know already, everyone is crazy. Regardless of what anyone says, they have an insecurity, a nervous tick, an insane temper, something.  

I had the pleasure of being raised by a lunatic. 

In my particular experiences, I’ve learned that my Father is a master planner. A puzzle maker, a fucking evil mastermind. He was so good and punishing my brain that physical harm wasn’t even necessary. 

Cruel and unusual punishment is illegal in the United States, but not in the homes of black families. Heres how I made $200 and an entire block hate me. 

It was a warm Spring evening in 2004. Shaker Heights, Ohio. Eleven years ago, I was a lanky eighth grader with two worries. 

Football and sucking titties. 

My father was 32 years old at the time, in his prime. 70% family man, 30% gun toting, motorcycle riding, street nigga. 

Guess which one is my Pops. Yeah, far right. Cops lie. 

I remember sitting in the family room of my father’s house on a Friday, talking on three way with my buddies about our victory  against a rival the day before. I know it was a Friday because my Xbox was downstairs, some shit that didn’t fly on a school day. 

My parents had split and remarried, so being at my pops house was a weekend getaway, seeing how I was at my Mother’s house 3-5 days out the week.

I heard the garage door roll open as Tupac vibrated through the house, and It damn sure wasn’t my stepmom. Pops bounced in with his youthful, rugged, yet fatherly allure, took his shoes off and threw his sock at me. 

“Boy you don’t pay no bills around here! Got ya feet up on MY couch like you just worked an eight hour shift. Get YA feet off my couch! You and Ya little homeboy’s played a good game yesterday. They can come over, just make sure that grass cut before I get home. Ya stepmama taking me out.” 

I then asked “Dad, why is she taking YOU out?” He simply replied, “Because I’m a pimp. Have the yard done by the time I get home.” 

As he ran upstairs to change, I gave the homies the green light to come through. Usually my pops was really tight on me about getting tasks done immediately, but that particular day, he was on some cool shit. 

No sooner than the homies arrived, the parentals came down the stairs. 

“Watch your brothers, don’t fuck up my house, and have the grass cut. I love you, and all yall niggas soft.” 

“Preston, stop!” My stepmother chuckled. “Dinner is already in the oven, just warm it up on 350 when you and your brothers are ready to eat.” 

She hugged me, Dad slapped me, and they left. 

The homies and I got fully engulfed in some classic madden battles. Remember Madden 04′ with Vick? Unstoppable. Anyway, I saw the sun creeping down and remembered that I had to cut the grass. 

I ran outside to grab the lawnmower and got to work. Do the homies come? Of course, but they just throw the football in the driveway as I scrambled to finish. 

25 minutes later the front lawn is cut, my air force ones are yellow and the streetlights have come on. I wheel the lawnmower to the top of the driveway EXHAUSTED, just to realize that I have an entire backyard to cut. 

Pause. This is where jackass teenager logic kicked in. 

The grassy area of the backyard at my pops house wasn’t that big because we had a pool. I had already cut a gigantic front yard, but because I was being lazy and wanted to get back to madden, my judgement was clouded. 

What does a teenager do when compromised? Ask another dumbass teenager for advice. 

Me: Yall think I should cut the backyard? 

Trent: “You should be good. You did the whole front, Mr.Heaggans shouldn’t trip.” 

Nishawn: “Or lie and say you ran out of gas. That shit always works on my mom.” 

Trent: “What if he looks in the lawnmower and see that Heaggans lied? Then we won’t be able to play Madden and look at his fine ass Stepmama no more. Fuck that. It’s Friday, just do it in the morning so he don’t trip!” 

Me: Trent you right dog. Let’s get back on this madden! 

We played Madden for another hour or so before the homies hopped on their bikes and rolled out. I fed and bathed my brothers, took a shower, rubbed one out to Booty Talk 55 and laid it on down. 

I was having a dream that I’m in the park having a picnic with Kyla Pratt, but the water from the sprinkler keeps getting in my face. I finally come to and in reality my Father is squatting next to my bed with a spray bottle, squirting water on my face. 

Pop: “Boy, didn’t I tell you to cut that grass?”

Sleepy ass me: hanna Shaba nana

Pop: (sprays again) “ENGLISH BOY!”

Half awake me: I did cut the grass.

Pop: “All the grass! Not just the front. Be thorough.. You know what. Get up, and cut the grass right now.” 

Me: I’ll do it first…

Pop: “Get up and cut the grass or we gone handle this like two grown men.” 

SHIT. 

I got out of the bed all angry and half teary eyed, mad as fuck that my pops bugging. I catch a glimpse of my alarm clock and its 2:08 am. In the morning. 

You know how loud a bag of chips are at 2am? Or how loud trying to sneak a bowl of cereal or a slice of cake is? 

I throw on my shoes and stomp outside mumbling all types of shit under my breath. In classic black father fashion, pops loudly asks me “YOU GOT SOMETHING ON YA MIND YOUNG MAN? YOU WANNA SHARE?” 

“No sir.” I muttered through a pout. 

I throw open the garage and wheel the lawn mower out. My pops turns on the floodlights, casually sits on the patio with a glass of Hawaiian Punch and waits for me to finish the job. 

There was a brief moment of peace and silence. The world is much more still late at night. I made eye contact with him and he chortled cause he knew what was about to happen. 

I pulled the wire once. No luck. I pulled it twice, nothing. I was starting to believe that God was gonna bail me out. 

Third times a charm. 

VVVROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM VAVAVAVAVAVAVAVAVAVAVVAVAVA!!!!

Easily the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my fucking life. Lights of adjacent and surrounding houses started to flick on one by one. Dogs started barking, babies started crying, a car alarm started to scream, everything went bad at once. 

My pops is in his patio chair laughing his ass off. I was crying out of pure rage  and embarrassment, but it was masked my darkness and the sound of the lawnmower AT TWO IN THE MORNING. 

Ladies were hanging out the windows, babies and Husbands outside with their robes on and shit. 

Lady: “Its two in the morning! What the hell!” 

Man 1: “Hey man, I’m trying to sleep!” 

Man 2: “What the hell! My kids are awake now!” 

My father stood, signaled me to stop  and raised his hand. 

“Now I’m sure all of you are angry and disturbed, but my wonderful son here didn’t complete a simple task as I asked him to. All complaints can be taken up with him. As a matter of fact, he’s going to spend his entire Saturday cutting YALL grass to repay you for disturbing the peace. Thank you, I’m going to bed!” 

He then signaled me to carry on as I stood there teary eyed looking fucking pitiful. I finished cutting after another five minutes or so as I got heckled by neighbors. 

Lady: BE OVER HERE TO CUT MY YARD BEFORE LUNCH TIME GRASS BOY. 

The following Saturday I cut 7 yards, front and back, seemingly for free. When I got home bloodied, bruised and tired, after wasting my Saturday, my pops asked me how many yards I cut. I told him the number, he pulled out his wallet and peeled off $200. 

“That’s 7 yards worth of pay and tips. Be thorough, follow directions.” 

Those neighbors called me “grass boy” for that entire year. 

I have yet to not complete something I started since that day. Guess the old man did a good job. 

Until next week. 

– King Malcolm 

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