Wednesday, October 29, 2003


I've been doing it for years now - really living on the edge. It's getting so that no-one can beat me. I'm at the top of my game - a real hotshot on the underground riding lawnmower racing circuit. My ride of choice is a super-modified Toro Wheel Horse, of the Classic 300 series. With a freshly souped-up engine, she's able to rocket me down the boardwalk at a whopping 35 km/h, more or less forcing me to beat my opponents time and time again. Wrapped in candy-coloured peach paint, tripped out with purple pimp-lights, and fitted with a custom-made, red leatherette bucket seat, there isn't a prettier machine out there.

We meet every third Thursday of every third month down by the lake. Under the light of the moon, we draw in the sand a racing schedule for the night. At this stage in the game, everyone is equal; previous wins mean as little as previous losses. Tonight I find myself paired with a young out-of-towner who calls herself Prima Donna. I've heard of her. Relentless, they say. A perfect record. I find the pairing suspicious, but personal ethics do not allow me to complain. I have to be strong. I am unafraid. I am a champion.

Later, as I lurch up to the starting line, I size up Prima's ride - a gutted, heavily modded, John Deere SX85. The thing looks sleek as all hell. Cranking the throttle, her beast lets out a deafening shriek, and she lifts the visor of her helmet. I swallow my anxiety. Put on a brave face. She yells something over to me, but I can't make it out above the din. Judging by the look on her face, however, I decide that it was not words of encouragement. I turn to look straight ahead at the makeshift starting lights. Red - relax my grip on the wheel. Red - in that certain place. Orange - say a quick prayer. Orange - rev the engine. Green - hit the gas.

She cannot win.

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