Raking: A Deadly and Strenuous Chore

A rotting leafYou’ve heard the old saying: if you, a fisherman, give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you’ll go out of business.  But I bet you haven’t heard the equally profound: give a teen a rake, and then run away (fast); teach a teen to rake, and he’ll run away and become a fisherman.

It’s no secret that teens hate chores, or that teens will use violence to get out of chores (although rake scrapes can look like cat scratches, if you get my drift).  And when it comes to chores, raking is one of the worst.

If you’ve ever done any raking, you know just how bad it can be.  The backbreaking effort, the disgusting rotting leaves, the paper bags, and of course, the slugs, politicians, accountants, and other slimy things that cling to the leaves themselves.

The Rake

The rake itself, your main tool, is not, NOT, a murder weapon.  I have this on good authority from the creators of the game Clue, who insist that a rope or candlestick is more deadly.

That means your rake really only has one use, and that is: to mess with your mind.  I mean, looking at the rake’s end, you can see it has more holes than prongs; how could this possibly work?  Apparently, according to the scientific law of chores, which states that any tool associated with a chore will never break when you need it to, it does.

The Leaves

Even before you start raking, you can see that this won’t be an easy task. There are dead leaves that cover the entire lawn, assuming you used the theory of “wait ’till they all fall down and then just rake once.”

Your lawn is practically an official graveyard for leaves.  It looks like the leaves had a civil war, or that there was a small nuclear explosion. This is quite depressing, especially considering that your favorite show is on in forty minutes (“Blues Clues,” for those curious).

Furthermore, each leaf has been on your lawn for many days, slowly rotting away.  Each leaf is at a different stage of its decomposition cycle, but all the leaves have dangerous looking mold on them that almost resembles Newt Gingrich’s hair.  In fact, some of the mold growths are so big that they look like they are turning into Newt Gingrich himself.

The Raking

So you finally start to rake.  One of the first things you notice is that some leaves get stuck on the rake prongs themselves.  Eventually, this gets so bad that you need to get another rake to get those leaves off (you wouldn’t want to touch those white, fuzzy leaves, even if you had a hazmat suit on OVER a scuba diving suit that was on OVER an iron-man costume).

This means, believe it or not, that you are now raking the rake. And if your first rake was big enough, you might even have to rake the leaves that get stuck on the second rake off, meaning you will be raking the rake used for raking the rake.

The Piles

The general theory of raking is to rake leaves into piles and then put those leaves into bags, unless you are into modern art, in which case you can put a little sign in front of each pile of rotting leaves with a title and suggested price.

You will begin to realize, though, that raking leaves into piles, especially large amounts of leaves, is quite difficult.  You either have to reach over the piles, thus straining your back (and I’m sure this leads to cancer) or rake behind/next to yourself, thus straining your back (I checked Web MD, and the symptoms of a back strain also correspond to heart attack, cancer of the broken nail, and sprained ankle that is rotting).

So, for those who innovate, you will end up with a circle of leaves with you in the center.  For those adults with rational minds, you could just step out, but look at it from the teen perspective: you’ve just spent ten backbreaking minutes raking disgusting leaves, you’re sweaty, and you’ve seen countless ENORMOUS bugs scurry away from your rake (not to mention you spent too much of your childhood watching horror movies); you’ve now got a 6-inch high pile of raked leaves surrounding you.  If you dare step over it, who knows what kind of poisonous centipede will jump between your sock and pant’s hem.

The solution is to turn the rake upside down and pole vault out of your circle of doom.

The Bags

Once all the leaves are in piles (which, if you look closely, appear to be breathing slightly), you need to put the leaves into bags.  But how shall you do this without touching the leaves?

There are two ways, both time-tested and perfected.

One way is to try and scoop the leaves up and put them in the bag using any tools you have on hand.  You can use the rake, a shovel, or even a sledgehammer, so long as you DON’T TOUCH THE LEAVES.  Personally, I’d go with the Caterpillar (you know, the giant metal tractor with a scoop).

The other way to get leaves into the bag uses explosions.  You need to lay some bags around your lawn, wide open, and then toss some dynamite onto the leaf piles. Theoretically, if you detonate an explosion under the leaves, they will shoot up and then fall back down into the bags you have set out.  (In practice, of course, you end up setting your lawn on fire, the leaves mutate into some sort of blob-monster, the fire department, police department, and national guard show up, and you get to be on your local news).

While the horrors of raking are enough to cause a nervous breakdown even in the FBI director himself, it is important to keep it in perspective.  Assuming you don’t come into contact with the leaves, raking will only impact your life for one day every year (although psychological scars don’t fade with time as easily as physical wounds).  However, if you touch the leaves, then see a doctor and ask them if quarantine/amputation is right for you.

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