Monday, October 26, 2009

Take you for a ride on my big red tractor

Thoughts of tall buildings, parking meters and sidewalks filled my head as I watched country boys lift 50-pound rolls of soppy sod from a factory-line belt to a pallet with broken limbs.

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.


  1. Ahh, takes me back to the first time I drove a tractor. It was an afternoon of baling hay and I was to wimpy to throw the bales (I wonder what your dad was doing) so I drove. It was also the first time I saw my dad RUN!

  2. Katie!!!!! I'm a TRUE country girl (kind of) and I've never so much as been IN a tractor, let aloen driven one! I'm SO jealous! I told Aaron that, and he offered to let me ride in one. I may have to arrange it when I come home next, I guess.

    P.S. This blog is hilarious. I've never noticed that we leave out prepositions, and no one has pointed it out to me, so yay! Plus, I like cooking, too! :)

    Two words: awesome.

  3. To Aunt Melen: The only time I saw my dad run was when someone pretended to steal his (actually Uncle David's) truck at Michael's neighborhood baseball practice.

    To Cookie: It's a tractor. For what could you possibly be jealous? Two words: insane-o in the brain-o.

  4. Because my dad was afraid to teach me to drive, my granddaddy, a gentleman and cowboy taught me to drive on a tractor. This led me to a life long obsession with cowboys. That obsession has NOT served me well. Therapy and drugs help, but I fear there is no cure.

    Get in your Volvo and Run, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! Go West, South, East (North if there is a North from where you are. Go anywhere. Just GO.

  5. Good advice. Any further north and I'd probably fall off the planet...

  6. haha Katie, I'm a bit worried about you up there in North Dakota....confused non-Americans are always asking me, "You're from South Dakota? Or North? Is there a difference?" And every time I'll think of you, fishing, sand bagging, freezing, RIDING TRACTORS, and then think of little prissy Mutchler, shopping at the world's LARGEST one story mall in Sioux Falls, and think "haha YES yes there is..."

  7. hi,
    renee malloy (go to scad together) pointed me to your blog. and im so glad she did. I LOVE IT. its hilarious. im literally guffawing at every other line.

    you're a great writer!


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