Early November weekends unless it’s raining, you rake leaves. And at some point you get tired and little sweaty if it’s not too cold, and you lean on your rake and catch your breath. And you look across the way, and there’s your neighbor, leaning on his rake, catching his breath. And you know him, but you don’t know him, not really, because this is New England and we like to keep a polite distance between the stick up our ass and sticks up everyone else’s. You have nothing to say, but you’ve got to say something because purely by accident you’ve made eye contact and it only gets more uncomfortable if you stay silent.
I’ve found it’s best to be prepared for moments like these. Here’s my list.
– Guess that’s why they call it fall, right?
– Beautiful day for it.
– Man, smell that air. Crisp, right?
– The colors were good this year. They said they weren’t going to be so good, but I think they were pretty good.
– Man, I envy the leaf peepers. ‘Cause peeping ain’t raking, know what I mean?
– This is killing my back. Not that I’m complaining. Somebody has to do it, and it sure as hell won’t be one of my kids. They got a lot of, you know, texting to do. Apps and shit, right?
– That’s a nice shirt you got there. What’s it, like, flannel?
– ‘Fall’. It’s called ‘Fall’, ‘cause the leaves fall and then us poor S.O.B.’s gotta rake ‘em, right?
– Last year it rained every weekend, remember? There was like, one weekend where I could rake and by the time I got it all into piles it was dark, I didn’t even get one friggin’ yard waste bag filled, and then it snowed and come spring I had these giant pancakes of, like, petrified rhino shit in my yard. Had to shovel it. It was heavy as hell, and wet, and when I tried to lift up the bags, they just fell apart like friggin’ paper mache. I gave serious thought to putting a bullet in my head, no joke. Right in my damn brain.
– Nice day for raking though. If you gotta do it. And I surely do gotta do it.
– You know, the way the wind is blowing, a lot of these leaves are like, technically, your leaves. I mean, you know, no bigee, just the way it worked out, the wind could just as easily be blowing my leaves into your yard. It isn’t, though.
– You ever jump in the leaf piles when you were a kid? Man, it made my old man bullshit.
– Look at this, if you grip your rake right at the base of the handle you can totally pretend it’s a light saber.
– One thing, don’t jump in my leaf pile. Seriously, you jump in my leaf pile, I will beat the living crap out of you. No offense. I’m not saying you would. You just got a kind of shifty look there for a second.
– Hey, I bet if they poured pumpkin spice all over these friggin’ leaves, my wife would come out and rake ‘em, right? Right? Your wife too I bet. ‘Cause the ladies are fuckin’ crazy over Pumkin Spice this time of year, know what I’m saying? They would RAKE… THIS… SHIT!
– Just kidding. LOL, right?
– Are you crying?
– “The circle is now complete. When last we met, I was but a learner. Now, I am the master.”
– “Now, I am the master.”
– Now you go “Only a master of evil, Darth.” Jesus. What the hell is wrong with you? Do you even know how to rake?
– Tell you what, why don’t you come over here and pick out the leaves that came from your trees? I mean, fair’s fair, right? It’s okay, I know which ones they are.
– That one’s not mine. That one, right there. That’s one of yours. I don’t have any leaves like that. I have good leaves.
– I got nothing against Pumpkin Spice. It’s fine. It’s just, it’s a flavor, right? I mean it’s not like crack, you don’t have to have it. People should calm the fuck down about it is all I’m saying.
– PHEWSH! I am BEAT! Not as beat as you. ‘Cause I take care of myself. But this is tiring.
– Know what else this is? Thankless. Literally. Not one damn person is going to thank me for doing this.
– Why don’t you thank me? It might make me feel better. And some of these are your leaves.
– Thank me. I am totally not kidding.
– Did you grow up around here? When I was a kid we used to burn the leaves. They don’t let you do that anymore. It’s like, a risk or something. Like everything isn’t a risk. I used to love that smell. That was the smell of fall, man. Burning leaves. That was a smell that could beat the shit out of pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice wouldn’t even see that smell coming and then BAM! BAM! BAM! I’M THE KING OF FALL, PUMPKIN SPICE! How you like that, BITCH? Who’s going in a friggin’ latte now? SMELL OF BURNING LEAVES, THAT’S GOD DAMN WHO!
– Wanna swap rakes?
– Why the hell does anyone call it ‘Autumn’? You don’t rake your leaves ‘cause they ‘Autumn’, right?