A few summers ago we finally broke down and bought a weed whacker. My husband was gleeful about it in that way that power tools get you gleeful and I guess that I was too. The whacker is heavy and loud and orange, but secretly I feel powerful when I turn it on. Look out weeds! Most of the time I can’t quite steady it properly and I end up making bald patches around the edge of our tiny lawn, but nobody notices, right? Or at least not like they’d notice a too tall weed in need of whacking. It was a must-have purchase. We feel no regret, even now that it’s dusty and the weeds sometimes look more powerful than we do.
Anyhoo, there was this day when I got really determined to make a difference in our landscape. I didn’t even go inside the house when I got home. I had the whacker on my mind and I went straight into the garage to get it. Against the fence there was a dense jungle of baby tears growing up and out of control. I had convinced myself the wood was at risk for rot. As much as I loved the creeping look of those fuzzy little leaves, I knew I couldn’t afford to replace the fence. The baby tears had to go and I had to crack the whip…or the whacker.
I had on good shoes and not so dressy duds, but I was too cool and impatient for safety goggles or a mask. Can you see where this is going? I pulled the whacker out to the yard, plugged it in and turned it on. So far, so good. If you know about whackers then you know they are essentially a length of nylon wire whirling around at high speed. They slice their prey and then send it flying in a big curve, sort of boomerang style, right back at you. When the prey is just grass it doesn’t really weigh enough to continue its flight path and, generally speaking, it falls to the ground before causing you any bodily harm. Generally speaking. If however, you were, say, to whack a couple of snails hidden beneath the baby tears…maybe like I did that day…well, then of course, the results would be a little different.
There isn’t really a good way to describe the look of those snails flying in slow motion right at my face. I had sliced them in half. Two of them. Clean. Well, maybe not clean. They flew in a big arc to the right, boomeranged back and sprayed all over my cheek and open mouth. OPEN mouth. Violation. Fast. Complete. Fresh dead, if that. Vile. I think I screamed a little and dropped the contemptible whacker. Contemptible whacker. How could it not have told me? “Snails in my path, don’t want to spray you.” Contemptible! I think I brushed my teeth for half an hour.
The memory of that experience is so vivid to me, I can summon the feeling associated with that flavor at any moment. I’m wretching as I write this. As you may have guessed this has an honored spot on the list of the grossest things that have ever happened to me. I sneer at the whacker whenever I see it and now I never turn my back (or my whacker) on a snail.