On the third trip to ACE Hardware on Saturday morning, little Juliana, standing behind her cash register, asked, "Are you back again, Miss Linda?" She advised that I find "a guy to start your engine." Hmmm.... She's a sweet young girl from, I think, Jamaica so I refrained from making a quip about finding a man to get my motor running. But I was sorely tempted since I almost never waste an opportunity to be knee-slapping hilarious and can usually come up with a clever one-liner. This time I just let it alone.
I was living in a MasterCard commercial:
Additional Spark plug: $2.99
New Gas can: $3.49
Fresh Gas: $2.69
Fresh Motor Oil: $5.00
Engine Starter: $3.59
Fine sandpaper: $0.69
Liz Claiborne jeans: $64.00 (when bottle of motor oil slipped out of greasy hands, hit patio and bounced back up.)
Conquering Combustion Engine: Priceless
If I had to diagnose what was wrong with the lawn mower, I would make a stab that the carburetor and fuel line needed to be cleaned. It wasn't the spark plug and it wasn't the air flow. However, I admit I am not at all certain. After my third trip to ACE I came home armed with product called Blaster, a pink liquid that gets sprayed into the spark plug housing. (I forgot to put the spark plug back on first time around and it all spurted out, but now I know better.)
From 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., I tinkered with Sparky. I sanded out the inside of the spark plug cap. I tried to adjust the throttle. I stared into the carburetor. I siphoned out the gas and oil and replaced both. After the second dose of Blaster "the Sparkster" started up with a great smoking growl...only to die within seconds. I held down the throttle, pulled the cord, and he roared to life. Once again he fizzled. Again and again we engaged in that dance, Sparky and I, for what seemed like hours. The sun rose higher and warmer. At last, hot, grimy, and exhausted I sat on the patio steps and murmured calmly, "I hate you." And then I did what one does with machines when all else fails. I pulled myself up and kicked him. Swift and hard.
Was it the Blaster? Did Sparky get bored with the game? Or was it genuine fear of injury to movable parts? Who can say. But on Saturday Sparky acquiesced. On the very next attempt he sputtered, then belched and began to hum.
In triumphant joy I pushed him toward the lawn. He putt-putted happily. He did a mighty fine job when all was said and done. We'll have to have another go at it later in the week, however, since I was too exhausted to do more than attack the worst parts of the lawn.
Afterward I let him rest in the cool shade of a Magnolia tree before putting him away. I felt proud of myself and happy Sparky won't be thrown into a landfill any time soon. I think he must be happy about that as well. I'm not certain but as I wheeled him into the garage I do believe I saw him wink at the new edger. She's a new model and is quite good looking, if a little too thin. With any luck, she might be just what he needs to keep his motor running.