See, yesterday, I drove a tractor.
* Impatient for articles like "a, an" and "the" North Dakotas skip them entirely. "I fixed fence" "I drive truck (for a living)" "She's taking interstate." Ok fine. But I just live here, I'm not from here. So for me, "a, an" and "the" all stay. I am from the Midwest, however, so I'll still end my sentences with prepositional phrases when I want to.
But back to the story...
I drove a tractor... it was red with a radio and a heater and windshield wipers (I had no idea farmers were so happenin' p.s.).... and didn't run over any small children. Just the adolescent ones. But they're annoying and smelly and belong before video games anyway.
The assignment: harvest sod
The task: hum the melody to Kenny Chesney's "She thinks my tractor's sexy" while Cowboy steers and compacts the sod seedlings beneath us.
Attached to the tractor was what probably has a perfectly appropriate and agricultural term. Since I'd prefer to deny that I participated in such a country act, we'll stick to a vocabulary I've nearly mastered: the words of the culinary world.
Cowboy took me for a ride in a big red tractor. Behind him, the tractor pulled a 500-pound rolling pin.
The goal: smoosh grass and ground together so another tractor can chop it like Christmas cookies the shape of granola bars. After the sod is cut and sent through the factory-like line, it shapes itself into a jelly roll. Then, another country boy packs the sod on a pallet, against each other left and right and top to bottom. A third country boy then secures the two dozen Hostess ho-hos with a roll of saran wrap so sticky it puts marshmallows out of work.
The morning began with Cowboy behind the tractor's wheel and me riding shotgun. But I soon grew tired of a game I like to call, arm-rest-in-butt-crack, so Cowboy offered a switch.
I don't know if that's a good idea, I said.
Why not? he inquired like Dennis the Menace or one of The Little Rascals. What could POSSIBLY go wrong with this scenario??
Soon he was showing me how to brake with two pedals and switch to third gear. Seriously, where's the cruise control? I asked.
It doesn't have one. Now stop and let me out, I want to stretch my back, he said.
Hells to the naw, I said, remembering the story of my dad's first driving test and how the instructor knew he was a farm boy because he could drive in straight lines. Had I been tested under similar circumstances, I would fail, EVEN TODAY.
I'm not ready yet, I said.
You'll be fine, Cowboy said. Like operating a machine with tires larger than the average adult female is big deal, he seemed to shrug. A 69-year-old with special needs usually handles this, Cowboy said. If he can do it, so can you.
You don't understand, I said. When it comes to seeds, dirt and growing seasons, I'M developmentally disabled, I cried.
Seriously. Stop the tractor, he said. My back hurts.
I DON'T KNOW HOW, I wailed.
All you gotta do is ClutchBrakesNeutralOffclutchNeutralParkingbrake and... PRESTO! he said. Understand?
Sure. Whatever. Get out. You're going to feel bad when I run this thing right over your face.
What was that?
Nothing. Carry on, I said. Already switching the radio station and belting Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova."
"He's a good time, Cowboy Casanova
Leaning up against the record machine
He looks like a cool drink of water
but he's candy-coated misery"
Soon, country boys from the middle of all sorts of nowheres pointed their fingers and clutched their bellies. A city girl drives tractor. Puh. But I didn't mind. I just gave them the one-finger wave and carried on.