This morning, I remember The Mister told me last night that I would be driving his beloved truck to work today. He has to do some maintenance on Baby Girl’s car and apparently he trust me a tad more than Baby Girl (aka lead foot) with his “Danger Ranger” as he affectionately calls his truck.
Like any self respecting Putnam County boy, he owns a truck. When you are from the south and especially from Putnam County you drive a truck. The Atlanta City boys may enjoy scooting around the city streets with their BMW’s but how can you tow a boat with a car? Where in the heck will you haul the deer you kill on opening day? As long as I have known The Mister he has owned a truck and I suppose there will always be one in our driveway.
Just like the Mister avoids the inside of my pocketbook at all costs( as if he would lose a portion of his masculinity if he should reach inside to find my ringing cell phone) I avoid driving the truck. It ‘s just, I don’t know, so utterly The Mister, that I feel out of sorts on the rare occasion that I must drive it.
The inside smells like The Mister, a mix of leather, sawdust and a hint of some sort of aftershave the girls got him a couple Christmas’ ago. I take a deep breath and smile and then mutter “Dang it” when I realize that I must mash the clutch in to start and drive this beast to work. After a second try with clutch engaged, it slowly comes back to me how to drive stick shift and I smile when I think of Baby Girl asking me last night with a hint of awe, “You can drive stick shift?” Her daddy responds, “Of course she can, I taught her.” He leaves out that it was the first time he really yelled at me and I was so mad I jumped out his truck, slammed the door and walked all the way home.
I find a place for my coffee mug among the piles of change that I guess equal about 17 dollars in his cup holder. I back out, proud that I remember reverse is all the way to the right and down. Station 106.7 “all talk radio” blares from the speakers reminding me that the Mister is not hearing quite as well as he used to and loves talk radio now days. I decide that I need to find some Alabama or Alan Jackson or something a little more fitting for a ride in this truck. The closest I can find is Zac Brown Band and decide that it will have to do. As I creep down the driveway, they sing, “While She’s Walking Away’ I smile and think about the countless hours the young Mister and I drove the back roads of Putnam county listening to Shenandoah. Being the Mister’s girl in his truck means I get to listen to him sing, a treat not many others enjoy. I think about when he would sing to me and how he still does.
I must not daydream. I forget that I am in charge of changing gears. I remind myself that I need to go all the way to 5th and up she goes into the last gear while the box of ammo rattles in the drives side door and I think “What on earth?”. I mean is there no better place to store these things? Power tools and a box of nails slide across the back seat and I realize that I’m just lucky he took the ladder out of the back.
By the time I am at the 4-way stop that leads to town, I am a little smoother with the shifter but it I still give it a little shove into place. Mine does not smoothly move from 3rd to 4th to 5th like the Mister does it. His thumb and two fingers moving the shifter while his last three fingers hold mine and we manage to hold hands and change gears at the same time. I smile. That’s what country boys do when they drive with their girls riding shotgun. And I realize why Baby Girl loves to ride with her boyfriend, a Putnam County country boy. It gives my heart a jump. I realize that I like that kid because he reminds me of The Mister. Maybe that’s why The Mister acts so gruff with him, maybe he reminds The Mister of himself at 17. Maybe now is not the best time to be thinking about Baby Girl and Boyfriend driving in his truck.
As I make my way down Meriweather road, the back way to work, I decide I like the feel of being up higher. I notice that other drivers of trucks give me a nod or wave, as if I am part of their secret good ole boy society. I smile and nod back enjoying being a member in this club for today before I am sent back to drive the Toyota that gains no respect.
There’s a little bit of magic in this old “Danger Ranger” as the Mister lovingly calls her. I pull in the parking spot and remember to set the brake. I know why he loves her. She’s not fancy or frilly, but she’s a hard working girl. She’s dependable and not bad looking either. The Mister likes his trucks exactly like his woman I suppose.