Yard Worked

Once upon a morning in 1994, my father wandered out into the front yard to fetch the local newspaper. As he bent low to seize the latest edition of The Muskegon Chronicle from the sidewalk, he paused to examine a blemish in his freshly planted lawn—bicycle tire tracks. Overcome with anger, my father stormed into the house where my older brother Chad, then fourteen, was watching television.

"Chad," my father said, "I've got a mission for you. I want you to be on the lookout for the snot-nosed little runt who's been riding his damn bicycle through our yard. And if you see him, you have my permission to give him the business. Got it?"

"I'm on it, Dad!" Chad said defiantly before turning his attention back to Rugrats.

Several weeks passed and, despite my father's attempts to thwart the two-wheeled menace, bicycle tracks continued to litter the yard. Then one day, just as he was ready to surrender hope of ever catching the lawn ruiner, my father heard a shout ring out from a window upstairs.

"Hey dickhead!" he heard my older brother yell. "My dad said to keep the hell off our lawn with your goddamn bike!"

Quickly, so as not to miss one delicious moment of the culprit's torture at the hands of his son, my father raced from the garage to the front yard. When he arrived, his glee faded to horror in short order.

"Is that your son up there?" an elderly, Huffy-riding woman with a canvas Muskegon Chronicle bag slung over her shoulder asked, pointing to the bedroom window inside of which my older brother stood.

"Uh, yes, it is," my father stammered, ashamed. "He's my son."

"Well, you need to teach that boy some manners," she scolded. "He just called me a dickhead."

"I'm really sorry, ma'am," my father said. "I'll be sure to give him a stern talking to."

"I should hope so," the woman spat before mounting her bicycle. "And for crying out loud, plant some damn grass in this yard. This dirt is making my bike tires filthy!"