Written in um…dot matrix printer era…Men in Trucks was found recently in a pile of papers. “Hey, you should read this one to the Zoom group Friday night,” said my husband. To me, it was too far over on the fluff-o-meter to share with grown-ups. But I shared, and the reaction was surprising. Also, it is worth noting: for you affirmation-writing, Norman Vincent Peale positive imaging enthusiasts like me, the darn thing came true! I hadn’t thought of it in years, but looking around I saw I was standing in my youthful fantasy, right down to the just so blue jeans wearing, 12-foot Christmas tree loving man. Without further adieu…
Maybe it is just part of being a woman from Maine, but as the winter draws nearer and the unkind wind skids across my knees, I look at men in trucks with a new soulful hunger. Warmth. Security. Protection. I no longer criticize them for lacking culture, or watching too much television or failing to seek self-improvement. I respect them. I admire them. I want to ride in their truck with them.
In saner and warmer seasons, I am aloof. My heart is on the proverbial shelf and I feel proud that I haven’t been trapped by a man. I am ever thankful to be free of their limited vision, free of responsibility and free to focus on my future. My fear of being trapped, caught like a fox with her paw gripped by metal teeth, keeps me from looking at men most of the time. If, by chance, I see a handsome man on the street, my immediate course of action is to rivet my eyes to the ground and look more than unapproachable. Whether it is this behavior that ensures my freedom, or the fact that they don’t wish to approach me in the first place, I can’t say for sure. I am content to wait for my first love to come back for me.
But when winter comes, being aloof is not as easy. Something happens. Mysterious and frightening thoughts invade my subconscious and the words “Nice truck.” end up on the tip of my tongue with alarming frequency.
There is something primal about the image of a man in his valiant truck on a cold winter day. Vapor rises from the exhaust pipe. Large chunks of ice protrude from the wheel base. Rugged black tires are poised to dig deep into the treacherous highways. This is survival. This brings my tenuous course of action into question.
A college diploma is wonderful and a solid future in my chosen field keeps light my heart, but right now I am tempted to stray a few feet from my rigid path. I am gripped with a desire to duck into the woods and dance through the traps, if only to hear them snap.
This is not an easy confession for me. It’s almost embarrassing to admit that one of my fondest dreams is to elope at Christmastime with a handsome, rugged man and live in a log cabin in the deep, snowy woods…until Spring, at which time I would catch a plane to New York or L.A. and chase my playwriting dream. I take great delight in filling in the details of that dream.
There’s a fireplace in the cabin, of course. There’s always a fireplace. My man is wearing a red flannel shirt and just right blue jeans. He starts a fire in the fireplace without swearing once and goes back outside to drag in an enormous Christmas tree. Johnny Mathis or a tacky western Christmas album is playing softly in the background and here’s where it gets weird. I…am cooking a scrumptious feast. We snuggle on the couch and talk about everything from secret dreams to the validity of Sartes’ philosophy.
And then the needle rips across the record, and then man evaporates because he doesn’t exist. A romantic woodsman with a renaissance flair only exists in my mind’s eye for a fleeting moment when a man drives by in a truck on an icy winter day.