Technically, I am not truckless. There are four and a half in the yard-due to its size, the Suburban counts as one and a half-but currently, none are operational.
I related to you some time back about the untimely loss of Little Red. She still runs, but has a distressing tendency to drift from side to side and lose pieces of sheet metal going down the road. Her frame resembles a pair of snakes that don't get along.
You also can't open the hood, unless Red decides the hood should be opened. This generally happens at speeds in excess of forty miles an hour.
The Suburban is still lacking a transmission that allows it to go forward. I could drive that truck to the Arctic Circle and back backwards (maybe) but forward, forget it. It does make an admirable storage building, though.
I am not even sure who owns the old Ford truck by the edge of the field. It was there when we moved in, and in two years has only been moved when I hooked up the towchain and dragged it out of the way.
Then there's Old Blue.
Old Blue was an impulse buy when we needed a truck. Old Blue is a long bed step-side 1961 Chevrolet Apache 10. She has a wooden bed that has seen better days. The motor only has around 10,000 miles on it, since the original engine was only good enough for a trip from the dealer to home to the mechanic.
Old Blue has been idle a while, since developing some nasty corrosion in the gas tank, courtesy of a number of years with no gas cap.
I needed a new truck at the same time the carburetor caught the gas tank's corrosion problem. Changing a fuel filter every 25 miles is not my idea of fun, so Blue went into semi-retirement.
Removing and cleaning the gas tank (the labor-intensive, if somewhat standard remedy for the problem) will be a Herculean task, since some idiotic previous owner welded the thing in place.
Hence, we bought Little Red. As such, Old Blue has been sitting patiently in the side yard for more than a year now.
But not for long.
I have some new tools, and I am not afraid to use them.
I also have a mechanically-inclined father-in-law who likes to work on old trucks.
I need a truck that runs and doesn't shed sheet metal. It needs to travel both forward and backward on demand.
So sometime in the coming weeks will come the resurrection of Old Blue.
Spring is a time for rebirth, for renewal, and reconstruction of old vehicles. I think it is a Southern Male thing; we have just completed two and a half months of not being able to hunt anything worth chasing.
Football is finished, baseball is just getting started, and if your team didn't make it to the NCAAs, then why watch basketball?
There are some misguided souls who see spring as a time for golf. I pray for their deliverance.
Spring is a time for fishing, and for old vehicles.
Nearly everyone I know has had a project vehicle at some point in time: a beloved old car, a hot rod restored to recapture one's youth, or a reliable old truck.
Old trucks-even ones that aren't old enough to be interesting-can be easier on a marriage than many old-car projects.
You can justify an old truck better than a bright red 1968 Mercury Cougar with a 390 engine, 427 heads, Cragar rims and wide tires.
As anyone knows who has ever owned one, you can carry stuff in a truck-furniture, potting soil, lumber, small children, or livestock.
Shoot, if it's a good weekend, and you can't say no to your untrucked friends, you can carry all those things, plus a llama before Sunday dinner.
I'm serious-a llama. But that is a column for another time. Specifically, for Mother's Day.
Another thing about old trucks is that you can use all kinds of theories involving geometry, physics, and mechanics to convince your wife or girlfriend that an old truck is essential to support the new truck.
Of course, if you're lucky like me, your wife doesn't care how many trucks you have, as long as at least fifty percent of the fleet runs.
Note the percentage-she is only unhappy if half of them don't run. Not all of them, but half of them. Have I got a great wife or what?
Heaving up the hood on that truck, listening to the metallic pop of the latch and the screech of the hinges, my hair gets shorter and darker, my joints less achy, and my brow less furrowed.
Old Blue is a first cousin of my first truck-down to the rotten wooden bed, hole in the driver's seat, ambivalent speedometer, and patches of leprosy.
Old trucks are full of stories; old cars can be raconteurs as well, but not to the same level.
The sheer nature of a truck-going places other vehicles wouldn't dare, to carry things long forgotten, for reasons no one understands, that make less sense-makes even the most sissified new truck with a pastel paint job at least a candidate for adventure.
The average decade or two old truck is a repository for stories that inevitably start with "One time we were down this dirt road" or "We were going fishing and..." or even "One Saturday, I was on my way to the dump when..."
Don't get me wrong-I love my cars. I try to view their malfunctions as a move by a smart chess player, rather than an evil, internal-combusting demon.
But a truck-especially an old truck-isn't just transportation. It's a cargo hauler, an off-road vehicle, and even a way to haul a llama.
To go to work, to the store, to church, or to school, you need a car.
You can do the same things with a truck-but if you play your cards right, there will be an adventure involved somewhere.