the beginning

I was 19 when I bought the truck. I had just completed my freshmen year of college at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma. Like many Oklahoma high school jocks, I went to college to play football. From 16 to this point in time, my mode of transportation and self-discovery was in the form of a 1990 Ford Ranger. I say “self-discovery” because that’s just what transportation is, isn’t it. I came into my own in that Ranger. As a fatty, I was always awkward around girls. I really didn’t know much about them but as I started to become less thin I was forced to know them more. At the time, I was open to the challenge and met it head on – sometimes with success; but more often, with failure. Instead of looking internally, at my immaturity, I felt the best way to resolve my awkwardness with girls would be to get a new pick-up.

I asked my dad to float me some money to buy the car and he taught me a valuable lesson. “Riley,” he said gruffly (he always says things gruffly), “If your truck is running and you’re not playing ball, then you can pay for your own damn truck!” I’d never thought of it like that. I already had a job at the bike shop and was living at home. There was no reason I couldn’t do it on my own. After two months of looking, I settled on a 1999 Ford F-150 with 45,000 miles. It was a black step-side with a 4.2 liter V-6. I didn’t want the V-8, knowing that the insurance rate would be slightly higher and thinking that a V-8 would just make me look like a douche, (I was already trying to shake off the jock image).  My mom co-signed on a loan for me and helped me through my first significant period of buyer’s remorse.

The day before I “picked up” the pick-up, I went through my dad’s tape collection to find the perfect road tunes, I settled on The Best of Hank Williams, Jr. and Alabama. I blasted down I-35 screaming, “Roll on Highway, Roll on along; roll on daddy, till you get back home.” I don’t know why, but I’ve never loved Alabama’s music except when it’s played on tape. The sound of the tape has just enough grainy sound to cancel out the corniness of Randy Owen’s “Roll on!” There’s also something to be said for the texture and sound of Take Me Down, my absolute favorite Alabama song, when played through a tape deck. There is less sex with the polished tone of the compact disc. I often wonder how country music listeners still reproduce with today’s music; the music is too glossy; and then there’s Toby Keith.

I would soon find that the neither the truck nor the Alabama would help me with women. If anything, it both confirmed and negated many of my juvenile presuppositions of the female race. Many are just as superficial as I thought, and I’m not interested in any of those. On the same note, I was just as superficial as many people saw me, and that needed to change, too.  It wasn’t about discovering women, though was it. Or wasn’t it?  No, I’m pretty sure it was about discovering me.  It was about discovering, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, Queens of the Stone Age.  It was about Diane Rehm, Terry Gross, NPR and PRI.  It was about Three Day Sabbatical, A degree in Economics, an MBA, a wife, and a future.  Through driving that truck some 150,000 miles, I’ve come to believe that the more you know about yourself, the more you know about other people.  And, the more comfortable you become with the world outside of your home the less comfortable you become with the world inside your home.  I don’t know if this is a memoir; it may just be a reflection.  Either way, I’m confident that I will confide too much and type something that is unsettling to me; but that’s what I’ve experienced in that truck. Comfort zones are astoundingly hazardous to growth and that’s what I intend to do in these entries, grow.

dsc02967 (Modified)


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Badass Viking on November 12, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I miss you, my friend. And I miss that truck. Lots of great memories happened in that metal beast. Hope you and the lovely wife are getting along great. Me and mine wish you the best and hope to see you down the road, soon.


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