Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Espirit de Core
Sjef Frenken

“So, what’s new?” asked Jack as we tucked into our plastic-plate lunch.

I said, “Oh, the usual pre-spring telemarketing calls about spraying the driveway, cleaning the heating ducts, painting the house, cleaning the eaves troughs, that kind of thing.”

“That reminds me,” said Jack. “I had a call this morning from some lawn company about aerating my lawn.”

“Pray tell,” I said, knowing full well that Jack needed no encouragement.

Now, dear reader, in the interest of clarity, and obviating the need for double, or even triple quotation marks, I’ll let Jack tell the tale in his own words. Here goes.

The phone rings. I pick up. I say “hello” – my standard opening. The voice at the other end says it would like to speak to the owner of the house. Something tells me it’s a telemarketer. So I say “I’ll get my dad.” I hold the phone a little away, and yell at the top of my voice “Dad, phone for you.” Then I switch to my little old man voice. [I know that voice, dear reader: contrary, argumentative, in other words Jack just as he always is, but 20, 25 years older and feebler.]

I say, “Who’s this?”

The voice at the other end says “I’m so-and-so from Imperial Garden Care” or some such outfit.

I say, “speak up young fella! I don’t hear so well.”

The person at the other end says “I’m a girl. I mean a woman. A young woman.”

I say, “I’ll be the judge of that! What’s this all about?”

She says. “Imperial Garden Care is offering you a good deal on core aeration.”

I say, “Coordination? I’m still as fit as a fiddle, don’t feel a day over 80. And I don’t need a cane or a walking stroller either. Fit as a fiddle, you hear. And why is Imperial Garden Care interested in my coordination?”

She says, “not coordination; core aeration – that’s where we come by with a machine and poke holes into your …”

I say, “That sounds painful”

She says, “No sir, it’s not painful at all. We …”

I say “You mean you’ll give me an anesthetic?”

“No, you don’t need an anesthetic for that. We…”

“Good, I don’t like pain. Of any kind. What’s this core aeration good for anyway?”

She says, “It’s where we get a machine that pokes holes into your …

“You told me that not going to be painful?”

“No,” she says, “the holes go into your lawn. That way the roots of the grass have better access to air, and rain gets down to the roots faster.”

“How much does it cost?”

She says “it depends on the size of your lawn. Typically, about 60 dollars – discounted for this special springtime deal.”

I say, “that’s a lot of money. My lawn is about as big as a beach towel. I can clip the grass with my scissors. But listen, how old are ya?

She says, “That’s neither here nor there.”

I say “Oh yes it is, it’s every bit here and there. How would you like to come over to my place tonight, and maybe you and I can talk it over. Maybe you can talk me into letting you do my lawn. I’ll buy the wine. What do you say? I’m game. How about you? Or maybe you should talk to my son. He’s a handsome devil. Think it over, and give us a call later tonight.”

“So what happened?” I asked Jack.

I don’t know yet. Maybe she’ll call tonight. I bought the wine,” Jack said, ever hopeful, tapping the bag beside his seat. “You never know. She has my number.”

Oh yes, she does!

Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.

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