When I got up last Friday morning, I had a happy marriage and a nice house. Now here it is Monday night: my wife is filing for divorce and I’m living out of a suitcase at the Slumber Tyme Motel.

What happened? I’ll tell you what happened: A business trip took my wife out of town on Friday morning. Heading out the door, she looks at the Weeping Cherry in the front yard and says that it’s gotten kind of shaggy and that I should call the tree service with the arborists–the internationally certified arborists.

And I say something like ‘Gee, terrific idea,’ but inside I’m already waving goodbye to $250. Arborists? Can we get a grip here? Didn’t they used to be tree surgeons? And before that, well, weren’t they the guys in plaid shirts named Jake who chain-sawed the tree in your backyard after the big storm and then came around four months later and sold it back to you as firewood?

The taxi drives off, leaving me standing in the front yard of my new house, hand on hips, sizing up my shaggy Weeping Cherry. I look at the Azalea bushes that I had trimmed . Never did that before in my life and they look swell. I look at the razor-sharp edge of the lawn meeting the sidewalk. Never did that before either. Then I look at the Weeping Cherry again. Just how hard could this be?

On Saturday I go to Tools-R-Us and leave combat-ready. I buy a Laser-Thru-Butter Pro pruning saw. It has a double set of teeth. I have no idea why this is a good thing; I buy it because it reminds me of the shark in Jaws. Plus, it folds into its own handle like the hellish spawn of a machete and a Swiss Army knife. Very cool.

I also buy an extension pruner. Basically, this is a guillotine at the end of a 20 foot pole. The pole is plastered with decals featuring good, sound advice that’s pretty hard to disagree with: Caution: Try Not To Cut High Tension Wires. I’m ready to arbor–or whatever.

On Sunday afternoon I place my trusty aluminum step ladder against the Weeping Cherry and wave confidently at my neighbor as I climb into the tree with my Laser-Thru-Butter Pro. Unfolding it, I make a deep humming sound: Bring young Skywalker to me! Then I choose a particularly shaggy limb and start sawing away. It’s exactly like butter.

The Weeping Cherry shudders for a moment and then there’s this sharp crack. For a moment I want to shout Timber! but I am too distracted by the blindingly blue sky that now surrounds me. At the foot of the ladder almost half the tree is laying on the ground. With two hours before my wife gets home, a return visit to Tools-R-Us is indicated for SuperGlue and the biggest C-clamp I can find.

I’m waiting on the front lawn when the taxi rolls up. From outside, I can barely hear my wife’s muffled scream. It must have been considerably louder inside the cab because the driver jumps the curb in fright. ‘Oh, thank god you made it home safe!’ I exclaim, rushing to my startled wife and giving her a bear hug. ‘With all of the tornadoes that swept through here, not to mention the lightning strikes, I was worried about your landing!’

I give a concerned-but-relieved look at the remains of the Weeping Cherry, allowing myself a grim, manly shrug. ‘Shame about the tree, but at least you and the house are safe.’ Still in shock, my wife nods numbly, never taking her eyes off the tree.

At this moment, my neighbor strolls over. ‘Too bad about the tree, folks,’ he says, shaking his head sadly. ‘Had I know you were going to do it yourselves, I would have told you about a certified arborist I know.’

So that’s what happened–I had it all until I opened that Laser-Thru-Butter Pro pruning saw. And then, in a flurry of sawdust, leaves, and disbelief in arborists, I lost everything. Learn from my mistake: Do not, repeat, do not try this at home.

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