The Big Red Bastard — a nickname loosely attached to my old red truck — followed me to college, through all my jobs leading up to my current one, through my relationship with Amber (early on I once drove it pantsless down Spring Street with her in tow, another time on her birthday I told her I loved her for the first time in it), on trips to several states… the list goes on.
So you’d think I’d be weepy about it being stolen last month, but the fact was I would have had to sell it within the next year or two anyway because it doesn’t have a back seat. A baby can’t ride in a car without a back seat. Amber’s not pregnant now, but we’re hoping she will be soon (insert cringe-inducing “trying” euphemism here). State Farm did shockingly well with its end of the bargain, so that also helped ease the pain.
Still, I can give it a proper eulogy. It was a red 1997 K1500 4×4 with the Z71 off road package (Bilstein shocks, skid plates) and a 5.7L Vortec V8, purchased brand new my senior year of high school after I’d beat my inherited 1987 Nissan Pathfinder to hell on the mud and mailbox circuit. I even custom ordered it (more accurately, my mom did) because 1997 was the time when manual transmissions were starting to get harder to find in anything above the work truck trim level, and I wanted a stick shift. I’d spent way too much time playing Ridge Racer at Mountasia Golf for that experience to go to waste.
It turned out to be an appropriate manifestation of my uncertainty in myself at the time. A couple of people I knew drove them, and as such, Chevy trucks became attractive to me for lack of my own ideas of what I would want. This is the same way I chose to go to college at Tennessee: I really had no specific idea about what I wanted, I simply chose the place that left a nice impression and which one of my friends (who also drove a Z71) was attending.
It’s odd to me now that both Chevy trucks and the University of Tennessee have inextricably permeated my existence since they were both almost like arranged marriages in a way. When I went truck shopping a month or so ago, I really thought I’d gotten past the unexplainable, irrational emotional attachment to the Chevy brand. I seriously considered an F150 prior to actually driving one since I’m worried about GM even existing in a decade, but when I sat in it and drove it around the block, it felt like a betrayal. Of what, I don’t know, but I’m still surprised that my objective self can look at it and say it’s more or less equal to the Chevy, and that my inner high school kid can feel like someone just shook my hand after coating their hand with crotch sweat.
And yet maybe it was inevitable. Both sides of my family mostly drove GM cars and scoffed at Fords. My mom owned several Oldsmobiles and a Chevy Blazer. My dad a Corvair and a Camaro. My mom’s father drove a Chevy truck, my dad’s mother an Olds. My uncle did a numbers-accurate restoration on a 1963 (I think) Pontiac Ventura. Another uncle drove a Corvette. And so on.
So I should probably just call the shopping I did prior to purchasing my 2010 Silverado what it was: a charade.
I couldn’t be happier with the new truck, though it was a costly piece of kit and it eats a lot of gas. I’m not oblivious to what a problem that could be in another few years. Fortunately Amber and I drive to work together in her car most of the time and save the truck for doing truck things and the occasional times when we have to drive separately. And it takes ethanol in case anybody were to actually start offering it around here.