Six months after Porsche was born, I was zipping down Maple Valley highway when I see two men preparing to cross the street. One, a gap-toothed, mentally disabled man known to the area, ran wildly across the street, about a hundred yards ahead of the oncoming cars. I was headlight-to-headlight with the car on my right and we both slowed down. At the same time, two lanes of cars were coming from the opposite direction.
“Cum arrnnnn,” cried the one who’d made it across. The other man, a large, lumbering guy, stepped out onto the freeway.
“No way,” I said out loud. “You are not going to do this.” I slowed down further, as did the car to my right.
The man darted across the invisible path, making it past the two lanes of oncoming traffic. As he lurched toward my car, I skidded, unable to veer left, or hit head on with the oncoming car. I couldn’t veer right, since I’d slam into the vehicle beside me.
I did the only thing I could: I hit the brakes a few times, giving the car behind me warning of what was to come. Then I slammed down hard. The anti-lock brakes prevented a spin out, but not the crunch of a three-hundred pound body connecting with my front lights. He bounded up on my hood, smashed into my front windshield. When the car stopped, he rolled down the front and on to the ground.
Of course I freaked. I’d hit a person—well, technically, the police officer told me that it was reverse. “He hit you,” he said. It was illegal crossing the street, ramming into the car, and I wasn’t at fault. In fact, both men received tickets. (The guy who hit my car was legally drunk, and was cited for all of the above).
However, my sedan, which I’d had for a little over a year, was toast.
“Drive the truck until we get you another car,” Rog said, offering up his newly acquired Dodge Ram. It was white. “It’s a short bed,” he said, as if I knew what that meant or cared. It was Diesel.
When I stepped into the thing, I had to jump up. When it started (and I remembered to wait for the light inside to go off), it rumbled. It announced I was coming up the hill a mile before I got home. It had big, mud-loving tires and a silver gas tank cap. The only thing it was missing was a gun rack on the back window and those playboy-escque mud-flaps flashing the sillouhette of a woman.
“How long until I get a new car?” I asked sweetly.
“In a few more months,” said Rog, non–commital.
On a shopping excursion to Seattle, I found it was too tall to park underground. I found this out the hard way, when I ignored the height notice and pulled forward. The car stopped—and I mean STOPPED—at the cement. Slowly, full of mortification, I went backwards. Ignoring the honks of the Prius behind me, I jumped out, stood on the floorboard and inspected the damage.
“Rog will never know,” I muttered, waving the Prius guy to get out of my way. He did so. My pick ‘em up truck would roll right over him.
Six months into this, my mom showed up.
“Where’s your car?” she asked.
“This is my car.”
She looked. She said nothing.
“How do I get in?”
I pointed to the baseboard. She stretched her long gams and made it in, reluctantly. Her teeth rattled when the car started and she asked about that “smell.” (Rog’s sweaty hockey-gear was placed in this car, not the small sports car he drove).
“Why don’t we take his car?” she asked politely, knowing she was treading on hallowed ground.
“Rog is afraid I’d kill us both.” His car, endowed with 405 horsepower, was ‘too much muscle’ for me. He was probably right. I love speed, my claim to infamy being I flipped a car as a sixteen-year old going too fast around a corner.
Six months stretched into a year.
“I think you’ll always drive a truck,” Rog said. I was mortified. I’d been patient. I’d been quiet. Not a single word of complaint about the inability to park within a bus ride at the Target parking lot.
“But it’s a Hee-Haw car,” I said, grumpy.
“Yeah, like those hill-billies on that show from the sixties.” Rog shook his head, resolute.
“Do you know how much money you’re saving us by driving that thing?” Sure, I was driving a friggin diesel. It was cost-effective.
“No, no, no,” he returned. “You never shop anymore! We’re saving hundreds of dollars every month!”
He then showed a spreadsheet with an accompanying graph of my spend. Sure enough, the numbers went down, coinciding with than d—n truck.
“I can’t park it anywhere!” I said. No Nordstrom, it didn’t fit in the parking garage, and I wasn’t going to try and find street parking for the behemoth. I dreaded Costco because the turning radius was limited. I even avoided getting my hair done, because I’d get dirty looks from women and men alike, who silently accused me of polluting the planet with more than my fair share of fumes and black soot. The first few times someone actually told me to ‘be nice to the Earth,’ I bothered to explain it was clean diesel. No fumes! They didn’t care. It was diesel. They want to know the rest.
My clothes progressively went out of style and the family ate rice and beans, but no matter. I was giving it up for the team.
On the upside, the truck gave me a whole new lease on life. I discovered I no longer had to wait for Rog to go get plants or bark. I could load up the back of that with compost for the garden, for what did I care if I smelled like the barea tar pit in the dead of summer. I was driving a truck!
Driving that truck, I was master of the freeway universe. It was better than being at the helm of a firetruck with the lights on. Other drivers would see me comin’ from a mile away and move over before I had the chance to flash my lights or tap my breaks. And those itty-bitty Prius’s? Let them try to cut me off. What did I care?
“It’s a truck!” I’d yell from inside the cab, a once, proper San Francisco city-fide girl gone wild.
This was also the beginning of my love affair with “the grange.” The Grange, as I learned, was one of the few places to get clean diesel. It happened to be a pit stop with cowboy stuff, and all things horsey. Soon, I found myself checking out red-plaid shirts with brands like Cruel Girl
and Cowgirl UP
! After a while, I succumbed and tried one on, and with glee, realized this stuff was made for tall, long-armed girls like me (early cowgirls must have been from Nordic stalk).
This begat wearing dope, phatty cowboy books like Ariat and buying useless, cowboy-themed stuff for the house.
“What’s with the cowboy junk?” Rog asked. He was long over the anything western or cowboy, having OD’d on it as a child.
“It’s grown on me,” I told him. “It’s all because of my hee-haw truck.”
“It’s time to get you a sedan,” he muttered.
“No! I love my truck!” I told him. What did I care if the only guys to give me a second glance were actually looking at my vehicle, hence, the phrase “pickem’ up truck.” Had I know a short-bed with mag tires was such an attraction-getter, I would have begged my dad for one in high school.
Yet, the light at the end of the tunnel was dimming. My daughter was preparing to go to school. The small drop-off and turnaround area wouldn’t accommodate a honkin beast. The rumble threatened to shake the delicate flowers from the gazebo.
We still have the hee-haw truck, and when I’m feeling ornery, I drive it to the grocery store just so other drivers move off the road. In the summer, I fill it up with smelly compost, and every so often, make my mom climb into it when she comes, just so she can appreciate a sedan.
When I’m not behind the wheel, three feet higher than the rest of mankind , I don my blue, halfszees cowboy boots and my Cruel Girl shirt with the long sleeves and shout Cowgirl Up!