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Ole Red and Me
by Anne McKee

We have a new riding lawn mower and it’s a beaut! I loved it at first sight. My discerning eye appreciated the bumblebee yellow fenders with black detailed edging. The lovely lines of the front hood coordinate perfectly with the oversized tires, glistening in all their blackness. I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on that mower!

Come Saturday morning I was hopping up and down with glee. “I get to cut grass today! I get to cut grass!”

My husband and I made our way into our barn – well, we call it a barn. It’s really a separate garage with two-car parking and special room for a travel trailer that we sold years ago. But sitting in the place of honor now is the brand spanking new riding lawn mower! My Ole Red mower has been moved to the rear. After many years of faithful service, Ole Red deserves a rest.

Now, Ole Red still has some life left, no doubt. My husband said we could use it for the rough areas of the lawn. Of course, my husband claims I have used Ole Red roughly the whole time, making it my personal bush hog. I must admit I do feel powerful and in control riding atop Ole Red. Why, if I see something I don’t like I just roll right over it (poor thing!), and Ole Red will gobble it right up!

As we entered the barn I went straight for the new mower. My husband called my name, and as I jerked my head around to answer him I noticed he motioned toward Ole Red. I was totally stunned!

“You mean you want me to use Ole Red?” I asked. My husband answered, “Yes, use it today until you get the hang of the new mower.” The hang of the new mower, I thought as I walked to the back of the barn. Now what could that mean?

As I approached Ole Red I declare the mower actually grinned at me! Gave me the willies. Now, I know a mechanical object cannot grin, but there it was (the grin, that is) and did I see the wink of an eye? That’s going too far, I decided as I rolled Ole Red out to fill up with gas. I decided to keep Ole Red’s friendliness to myself -- didn’t need any jaw-dropping from my husband this morning, although I cause that to happen to him regularly.

By then my husband had cranked up the bright, glossy new mower and it sat purring as he took a cloth to shine up the already shiny bright yellow fenders. I picked up the gas can and filled Ole Red’s tank to the brim and cranked it up as it shook and shimmied, spouting smoke all around the barn. But after a few minutes Ole Red had its gruff purr a-going and was ready for action.

My husband and I both left the barn in a dead heat. I took off for the high grass all along the rough area of the lawn and he drove to the smooth silky grass of the main yard. Ole Red attacked the tall grass and weeds with a vengeance and great force. As I headed for the intimidating and always spiteful kudzu patch, Ole Red kicked into turbo with skill and grace over-running the enemy. Oh, how sweet is victory!

As Ole Red and I coasted along the nut grass and briars, I happened to notice that my husband had stopped to take a water hose and wash off the oversized tires on the new mower. What a wimp, I thought. That new mower just can’t take it! I reached down and patted Ole Red on her (notice I said “her”) scratchy faded hood. My girl and I are survivors! We don’t need that special pansy attention!

Just about that time my husband motioned to me and I rode over to see what he needed. You see, Ole Red and I are dependable. We can be counted on (she and I). She understands me and I understand her. We have many, many years of companionship all over the lawn. Who needs that new fancy, smancy mower anyway?

As I reached my husband and his “pet,” he said, “Are you ready to swap out? I thought you might want to give a turn around the lawn on this new mower?”

I answered with an air of, well, I suppose, arrogance.

“What makes you think I need to 'take a turn around the lawn' on that fancy new mower of yours anyway? Ole Red and I are doing just fine,” I yelled as I rode off into the sunset on my old friend, back into the muck and the mire of real grass cutting.

There it went again. The jaw dropping, that is, as my husband stared after Ole Red and me. But I probably won’t share Ole Red’s grin and wink with him – not today anyway.


Anne McKee, weekly columnist for The Meridian Star, is a native Mississippian with a penchant for southern humor. She also writes for Meridian Plus Magazine where she is a feature writer and Editor of the “Fifty Plus Page.” Her works have been featured on “The Commentaries Program” for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Radio. She is a speechwriter with her most recent speech for Miss Rodeo Mississippi, 2006. Anne is a founding executive board member of The Mississippi Writers Guild. Read her feature article in the September/October, 2006 issue of Mississippi Magazine.

Read more of Anne’s work at these sites:
~~ authorsden.com/annebmckee
~~ Mississippi Writers Guild
~~ Meridian Plus Online
~~ Meridian Star


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