Harvey Duncan and Scott Buckner were neighbors. That was the only trait they shared. They were from different parts of the country, different backgrounds and different generations.
Harvey was born in the early 1950s, while Scott was born in the late seventies. Harvey was from an old New England Irish family, while Scott was a Pennsylvanian of German descent.
Despite their differences, Harvey and Scott were friends. Every Saturday morning, people could see them chatting together before they started their weekly lawn care.
Harvey and Scott would always find time each Saturday afternoon to slip away to the neighborhood bar for a beer, before heading home to dinner. It seemed idyllic.
What the other neighbors didn't know was that Harvey and Scott were alike in one trait: They were very competitive. Despite their ages, they often competed against the other.
Harvey was a very active sixty-six year old. He walked several miles every morning. He played in a senior's softball league on Sundays and golfed once every week.
Scott was still working as an insurance salesman. Even though most of his sales calls were phone calls, Scott attended a gym twice a week where he engaged in weight training.
One Saturday morning they began talking, as usual. Their Saturday morning competition involved seeing which one could mow their lawn the fastest. The loser bought the beer that afternoon.
Harvey: I hope you have your wallet handy, Scott. I gave my mower a tune up and I'll be two beers ahead before you make it to the bar.
Scott: Yeah? Well, you'll need all the help you can get. That mower has to carry your fat ass across that lawn. That's why I always beat you!
Harvey: Oh, yeah? Is that why you bought the beer last weekend?
Scott: You know I had to move the garden hose. My son was supposed to put it away after he washed his car, but he forgot to do it.
Harvey: When are you going to kick that deadbeat out of your house? He's what? Twenty-two years old? Has he got a full time job, yet?
Scott: You don't know anything about this, Harve. You never had kids.
Harvey: I never had the clap, either. What's your point?
Scott: He's going through a rough patch, Harve. His girlfriend broke up with him and that's why he flunked out of college. He'll go back next semester.
Harvey: Scott, your son is twenty-two years old and still a freshman in college. When I was twenty-two, I was married and working a full time job.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. I know. You tell me every week. I think you bring it up just to psych me out before we start our race. And, I still win, by the way!
Harvey: You won't beat me again until your son gets a promotion at Taco Bell.
Scott: I'll beat you today. I've got a new plan for mowing my lawn this week. I'm going to mow the same direction you do. You know, the easy way!
Harvey: You beat me by about two seconds a couple of weeks ago. Now that my mower has a new tune up, you're going to lose.
Scott: Not this week. I checked my lawn yesterday. There's no hose for me to move and no debris I have to pick up. You're going down, old man!
Harvey smiled at Scott and said: "So, do you want to double the bet? If you lose, you buy me two beers for every one you drink?"
Scott; You're on! I always wanted to get drunk at your expense!
They both walked to their garage and drove their mowers to the starting line. They had been racing for so long, they had worked out meticulous rules for their competition.
Harvey and Scott pulled up beside each other, one on each side of the fence. Scott tossed Harvey one end of a roll of toilet paper. Harvey tore it off the roll and held his end.
The two men counted backwards from five then they each pulled the toilet paper. When the paper tore, the race was on. People stared in amazement the first time they used toilet paper.
It was the only way that they agreed on. They could look along the paper and see if anyone had a head start. If both mowers were in alignment, they tore the paper and took off.
Harvey had suggested string but Scott was afraid it may be hard to see. A rag was tried but it was pulled out of their hands and someone would have to stop and retrieve it.
Toilet paper was the easiest to see and easy to wad up and put in a pocket until the race was over. For the last two years, the toilet paper race had been run every week.
As they neared the first lap around their yards, they were neck and neck. As the race wore on, Scott saw that Harvey's tune up had done wonders for his old mower.
Harvey won the race by nearly a full lap. Scott had to buy Harvey twice as many beers as he used to. Harvey sat on his mower, smiling as Scott pulled up alongside.
Scott: Well, Harve, you beat me. I guess I'll have to tune up my mower before we race next week. Then you can repay me for buying you a lot of beer.
After a clean-up period, they both got in Scott's car and drove to the bar. The loser drove, as well as buying the beer. As they sat at the bar, Scott questioned Harvey about the tune up.
Harvey: Well, to tell you the truth, Scott. I didn't really tune up my mower. All I did was replace my spark plug. Well, that and one other thing.
Scott: What 'one other thing?'
Harvey: I took that gas can out of your garage and poured it in my mower, then replaced it with regular gasoline.
Scott: You did what?
Harvey: Yeah. I used your super high octane gas that you bought at the parts store. What is it a hundred and ten octane?
Scott: You knew about that?
Harvey: Not at first. I had to go the parts store for a spark plug. I got to talking with the parts man and asked how to soup up a lawn mower. You know what he said?
Scott sat silently.
Harvey: He told me about some guy who bought high octane gas to beat his neighbor in a lawn mowing race. I described you and he said: "Yep, that's the man!"
I may be old, Scott, but I'm no dummy. Why should I buy that super expensive gas, when I could take yours!
Harvey sat smiling at Scott. The longer he thought about it, Scott saw the ridiculous nature of Harvey's trick. He started laughing.
Scott: I guess I owe you more than two beers for every one I drink.
Harvey: Next week, we'll be on even footing. We'll see who wins then.
The two men sat at the bar so long that Scott had to call his wife to come get him and Harvey. When Scott's wife arrived, she saw two men having the best time they had ever had together.
Harvey and Scott never stopped racing but it was more even after that. They learned that you can win if you cheat.
Just don't cry when someone cheats to beat you.