The Lawn Mower Man

It's been argued, by people a lot smarter than me (7 billion plus), that everything that happens to us, every little detail, every meal, every shower, every employee review, every passed kidney stone, has been faithfully recorded on the hard drive that is our brain.

All we have to do is figure out how to connect the synapses in the right manner in order to access these long forgotten memories.

I think there's something to this.

Last week, for instance, my partner Robert Prins and I were developing an ad campaign. Somehow we started talking about riding lawn mowers. And then, somehow again, I began thinking of my newspaper delivery days back in Suffern, N.Y.

Having a newspaper delivery route is like having a special set of X-ray glasses with which to see the neighborhood in ways few people will ever know.

In bedroom communities, neighbors might have passing conversations with the folks to their immediate left and right. And perhaps, because of the kids playing softball at the nearby school, parents might get together for the occasional BBQ or X-mas party.

But as a teenage newspaper delivery boy I had close, sometimes too intimate, contact with not one, two or even five of the neighborhood families. I had a special peak into the lives of 47 Suffernites.



There were rumored Mafia families on my route.

There was closeted homosexuals on my route.

There was even the family of an ex-NFL football player. They had a pair of boys, 7 and 9 years old, who were to destruction what Islamic terrorists are to intolerance. They had a penchant for fire, sledgehammers and circular saws, and would break shit up just for the sake of breaking shit up.

If YouTube had been around back then, I have no doubt these two would be Internet stars.

And then there was one house occupied by a family, whose name I shall not speak.

The mom and dad were in their 50s and they had a son in his late teens. These were not people who did much socializing. It was rumored that the father collected Nazi memorabilia. The fact that they kept two vicious, and often snarling, German Shepherds did little to dissuade me of that belief.

I never relished collection days and the times I would have to interact with these neighborhood fascists. More often than not, I was greeted at the door by their son, who in many ways resembled Private Lawrence from Full Metal Jacket. A big hulking man, who was never quite all there.

Mind you, this was long before the hipster era, but at 19 tender years of age, he was fond of wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat. Also, he smoked a pipe. He also never obtained a driver's license. That however, was never going to stop him.

Because on days when the need for speed kicked in, my Private Lawrence would fire up the Sears 17.5 horsepower riding lawn mower, tool up and down the street at full throttle, and look about as happy as a pipe-smoking, Sherlock Holmes cap-wearing, son of a Naziphile could ever possibly look.

I have no idea where this young man is these days, but I'd like to thank him for that searing memory.

If I ever get another newspaper route, I will gladly offer up the first three weeks for free.