When you live in the far Northwest corner of Alabama so close to the Tennessee and Mississippi state lines that you could throw a stone and hit another state, it takes a while to drive to other places in your home state. I like to put the radio on 'scan' on these long hauls. Lots of gospel music, preaching, and slick car commercials. Some smooth soul sounds. An occasional old time bluegrass hour. NPR for news. But wherever you are in Alabama, there is always a country music station, loud, proud, and rowdy.
On a recent drive back from the state capitol in Montgomery, I hit one of these clear channel country stations blaring out a honky tonk inspired song about a "Pick-up Man". If you've heard the song, you know. The first person Romeo hero in this narrative is a man who indeed picks up women--in traffic jams, for instance, where he has picked up a couple of wives. But what makes him irresistible to the opposite sex is his choice of motor vehicle. The "pick-up man" drives a pick-up. As in 'truck'. Get it? The pick-up man is a pick-up man. Wink wink.
I have noticed that the pick-up truck is not the only sexy motor vehicle romanticized in contemporary country music (let's not forget the song "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy"), but since the pick-up is no doubt easier to drive on public roads, it has won out in popularity. Just this morning I pulled into the parking lot of my local grocery store, the one that prominently displays snuff and chewing tobacco, and right in front of me pulled a jacked up burgundy number with the front vanity plate reading "Bad Ass Boys Need Bad Ass Toys". You don't want the description of the young shirtless driver. Way too cliche.
I always had dreams of driving an old pick-up truck. One like my daddy's. Daddy was a man who believed a vehicle should never be improved with after-market gee-gaws and gadgets. Whatever rims and hubcaps Ford or GM put on at the factory was what a vehicle should have until it made its final trip to the crusher. I thought the column shift and bench seat were fun. I didn't care that it had no air conditioning. Then I saw Tom Hanks in "Castaway" and realized that the sexy artsy Texas chick driving the classic old pick-up with her winged logo on the tailgate had ruined it for me.
Chic old pickups are for chicks. I'm just a station wagon woman.
Driving a station wagon has not been cool since Doris Day moms in the 50s drove wood-paneled Chevy BelAirs as they chauferred kids to dance class and cub scouts. Still, a station wagon has some good points.
1) They generally get better gas mileage than most mini-vans, SUVS, and especially those great big pick-up trucks.
2) They can haul just about anything a pick-up truck can haul and keep the load dry while doing so. One exception is a refrigerator, since a refrigerator has to travel standing upright. For that, you have to have a pick-up truck.
3) Your teenage kids will not try to borrow your car.
4) In fact, no one will try to borrow your car.
5) When mini-vans and SUVs are in the shop because the on board DVD movie system is on the blink, you'll still be driving your station wagon. It never had a movie system.
6) While other people drive by the car dealerships drooling over the newer models, you will not waste time on such covetous materialism. If you bought a new car, what would you do with the station wagon? No one would buy it. You'd have a hard time giving it away to charity.
7) At my fave store (the feed and seed), I know exactly how to back up my station wagon to the loading dock to pick up the hay/feed/mulch/straw/etc. Great visibility. Plus when I get home and throw open the hatch, the load is on MY level: the short person's level.
And then the #1 reason for owning a station wagon:
8) As the dog ages, the lower station wagon tail gate is not so difficult for him to jump into the back of the station wagon and shake all that muddy river water onto the gigantic vinyl mat.
Somebody ought to write a song about it :-)