How to Start ‘Er Up

By Anna Mitchael

The first time I saw the

Chainsaw I got a real bad feeling, but I figured that was a good thing. Chainsaws aren’t supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy, and it seems wise to keep a distance from people who feel differently. I’ll stay here, and they can be over there, hopefully on a government watch list.

This particular chainsaw was being loaded in the back of my car as we were leaving Andrew’s brother’s house. In any other scenario I would have raised my hand and requested immediate removal of the life-threatening equipment. But in the years I have known these men, I have never seen them part ways without an exchange of machinery. The rest of us shake hands; they trade power tools, maybe the occasional welding device. It’s a ritual that’s been around longer than I have been, so I try to respect it. Even when that means driving home in a vehicle packed with children, suitcases and a chainsaw. Oh, and our parents of the year award.

Thankfully, when we got home the chainsaw went into the barn almost before I had time to dust the French fry crumbs off my shirt. I had every reason to believe I would never see it again. Right until the morning I woke up, got in my car and drove through the front gate only to find I wasn’t going anywhere — a dead hackberry tree had fallen, blocking the road.

There was no cellphone service, so I had to come back through the gate and park by the barn. Then I walked around, waving my phone in the air, looking for bars. Though not the kind of bar that really could have helped.

When I finally had a signal, I phoned Andrew and told him my day was heading south faster than a crew of wall-builders. He quickly did what any sane, rational man would do when he hears his wife in a state of hysterics: He suggested I get the chainsaw.

“What did you say?” I asked. Surely the cellphone was forsaking me again. But no, he wanted me to get the chainsaw.

“What will I do with it?” I asked.

There was a long silence.

“Pull the starter rope,” he said. “And saw.”

Once he finished delivering directions and safety tips, I wish I could tell you I sweetly said goodbye, but there’s probably still a divot in the earth where my phone hit the ground. I’m not sure how some foes in our lives get to be bigger than life itself, but by the time I found that chainsaw in the barn it was roughly the size of Alaska.

The last time I had carried something that could be considered a weapon I was leaving the mall after dark and untwisted my mascara tube so I could clutch the wand in one hand — just in case I needed to poke someone’s eye out. To me this wasn’t just a chainsaw, it was every part of living in the country that has ever felt unfamiliar, strange and uncomfortable.

I took the cord in hand, and again, I wish I could report I kept my eyes wide open, but I squeezed them shut. I listened as our small crew of ducks dashed — probably wisely — in the opposite direction. Once, then twice, I yanked the chain. Nothing. But then on the third pull that chainsaw started up.

I almost laughed as I stood all alone in front of the barn with that day-saving equipment alive in my hands.

I don’t want you to worry. I assure you there is no reason for panic. I can absolutely guarantee the feeling I had in that moment was not warm and fuzzy.
But it was darn close.