You know, I don’t even remember our initial meeting. I was just a man with a need and she needed a place to stay. It wasn’t anything more than that. Sure, I checked out plenty of others before she caught my eye. Actually, I wouldn’t even say she caught my eye. I mean, let’s face it: the new ones always grab your attention. Maybe it’s the thought that as long as you’ve got the right amount of cash you can take one home, or the idea that you decide when and where without any argument. All I know is she was there, I needed her and the price was right, so I took her home.
That was over 20 years ago and she’s still with me. She’s never refused me. She’s been so faithful, through thick and thin. No matter how I’ve neglected her, she still warms up to me with just a little coaxing.
She’s a little worn now. Ok, the truth is she’s a LOT worn now. But I still get a thrill every time I go out to the shed and fill her with gas and oil, pull the rope and hear her roar to life. She’s missing pretty bad now, smokes a bit and uses as much oil as gas, but my old Craftsman 3.5 hp. 20-inch mower starts within two pulls every time, and usually with just one.
I should replace her. I’ve replaced the pull handle with a piece of wood. It shamed me to do it, but I couldn’t justify spending the money on a brand new part. What’s the chance of finding a new handle for a 20-year old mower? And if I found one, it’d cost more than she’s worth. Do I sound cold? I’m being realistic. Oh, I’d never tell her that. She deserves better from me. All the times I’ve used her to mulch leaves, garden debris and so much more. She never complained, never quit. She just….kept goin’.
We know each other. I know 5 pushes on the primer won’t do: it has to be 6. I know not to wonder if she needs oil. We’re past that. I KNOW she needs oil every time I take her out of the shed. I don’t give her a bath anymore. The oil-soaked grime has become an adhesive that holds the remaining loose, bubbling paint in place. Small tufts of grass poke through holes in the deck like unwanted whiskers on a great aunt’s chin. I won’t scrape them away: they’re plugging small holes. Even the flaws others would call ugly have become endearments for me.
There will come a season when I’ll pull her from the shed and…and she won’t start. The oil change, the new spark plug, the clean air filter: nothing will work and that’ll be the end of her. I’ll have to get a new mower. I’ll have to.
I’ll tell you something, though. No mower could replace her. And I won’t go for some self-propelled liquid-cooled self-mulching job, either. Just give me a good engine and a bag that catches the clippings. That’s all the mower any man needs. She proved it to me. That’s all I got to say about that.