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I honestly can't hide my purple truck pride

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© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2000

A friend of mine used to collect combinations of words that nobody had ever heard before -- things like "Please remove the polka-dot umbrella from behind the elephant's ear," or Bill Clinton admitting that he wasn't entirely truthful.

I need to call him and give him a list of phrases that may not be that esoteric, but that neither he nor anyone else ever expected to hear from my lips.

Things like, "I bought a truck."

Or: "It's in my truck."

Or: "How much do y'all (you're allowed to say y'all when you drive a truck) get for a truck-wash?"

Yep, (which I also get to say now) I bought a truck.

I knew it was coming. When I decided to implement my long-range plan to become semibicoastal and build a modest summer place (Okay, its a Quonset hut, happy now?) in Colorado that I soon was going to need to be hauling things.

I also occasionally have the need at outdoor events to have a vehicle I can sleep in, either because camping is intended or because having a beer or six made it seem like a much better idea than driving.

Believe it or not, there wasn't any comfortable way to sleep in my minivan, something I didn't complain about because sleeping in it was the only thing in history I have ever been too tall for.

I spent my time touring lots until I saw exactly what I wanted, found out the price was better than I had hoped and drove away in a 4-year-old used truck with a camper top that will keep cargo, and me, if necessary, dry.

Saying goodbye to the old van loaded down with Grateful Dead, Buddhist and animal-welfare bumper stickers wasn't easy, given the number of memories, good and bad, that it brings back. On the other hand, because it hadn't been washed in a year, it wasn't that hard, either.

And yes, before somebody brings it up, my truck is purple, a term I have learned to use in East Pasco bars rather than the more descriptive "eggplant."

And, no, I haven't bought a baseball cap yet, do not own a "caution, driver chewing tobacco," bumper sticker and haven't bothered to get an NRA sticker yet, although I am considering a gun rack.

I don't own a gun and don't want to, but we truck guys know the real importance of a gun rack is to show that you might own one, and the smart money is on the guy with a double gun rack so you can put your carpenter's level in the bottom rack and let the women know you're working.

I did, hastily, put a Grateful Dead sticker on the rear window and a statue of Ganesha (a Hindu deity often asked to intercede for the removal of obstacles or to bless new beginnings) on the dashboard. Believe me, the Colorado thing will be a new beginning for me when I retire in a few years.

I have avoided getting one of those decals that show an ill-mannered little boy passing water on a variety of things from logos for rival sports teams to different brands of pickup trucks. You know, it's kind of like the old "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Fords," or "I'd Rather Be Seen Being Towed By a Ford than Driving a Chevy" bumper stickers.

It's not that I have any problem with brand loyalty. I haven't changed underwear brands in 30 years. (Pause here for my friends to chime in with cracks about my not changing underwear in years, either.)

And I have now at least a taste of what it feels like to have bonded with a truck and to be fiercely defensive of its virtues.

I just need a little more time to practice.

One night soon I will have to walk into my favorite country bar, one where the Ford-Chevy argument has been going on for the past 40 years or so, and after ordering something that tastes awful but is much less likely to provoke violence than a margarita, do what a man has to do.

And that would be to steadfastly and for as long as I last defend the honor of a purple, compact Isuzu Hombre.

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