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Cutting the Grass in a Hockey Mask

In the "Cult of Escapism": Cutting the Grass in a Hockey Mask

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cutting the Grass in a Hockey Mask

There’s a line of people laughing at me, which strikes me as a bad idea since I’m holding a machete. I adjust my hockey mask and vow to take revenge while they swim in Crystal Lake.

No wait, I’m confusing myself with the serial murderer Jason from the Friday the 13th series. I should stop ingesting so many dangerous hallucinogenic chemicals*…

Ok, I was indeed wielding a machete, but not butchering campers – just cutting the grass. An artisan organization was hosting an event and needed to clean up the grounds, so I joined about six other community members in the chopearing or grass cutting efforts. But, having grown up in large cities, before Peace Corps, the closest I’d come to a machete was watching Hotel Rwanda. Which is to say, my chopping skills are limited. Which is why people were laughing at me.

This has always been an interesting double-standard in my Peace Corps service. While teaching accounting, for example, when the store owner divides the wrong numbers while calculating unit cost, I’ve never burst out laughing and called them a moron. But as soon as I pick up a farm tool, people call their friends over so they can line up and take pot-shots . I think there might even be a kind of bat signal, alerting the town when the gringo is making a fool of himself.

So I chop, and consider myself successful if the grass is shorter after I swing. However, this exacting standard is apparently not enough for the spectators, who scream, “Harder!” “Lower!” “Not so hard!” or simply, “Gringo!” The highlight was when a young lady offered to take over. My manhood and dignity thus questioned, I simply smiled and kept cutting.
Jasons in training

Chopping is fun, for like 40 minutes, then it’s just tiring. The technique is to bend your knees, lean forward with a straight back, bring the machete up past shoulder height and chop across your body, as low as possible. I’d also recommend not cutting off anyone’s legs (including your own). After two hours, if you’re right handed, your right wrist, shoulder and forearm and left lower back will ache. Also, if you have fragile, sissy, city-hands like me, you’ll develop a large thumb blister, which will make it difficult to hold pens and write blog posts.

It’s satisfying though. In a job with mostly intangible successes, something as simple as cutting grass represents a visible success (i.e. grass is tall; CHOP; grass is short). Although people were laughing at me, they weren’t laughing that much. That probably doesn’t sound too comforting to you, but I figure if I was doing a truly terrible job, the people would have stayed longer and laughed more.


The laughter and massive thumb blister have convinced me that I need to chopear more. Although my efforts are primarily entertaining, within two days, everyone seemed to know that I had participated in the cutting and I think they respect my effort. If nothing else, one day it might help me while I’m chasing teenagers through the forest in a hockey mask.

*Just kidding, Peace Corps office!


At October 7, 2011 at 4:52 AM , Blogger LSpink said...

Nice disclaimer there Jack...


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