What is it with men and their huge, buffed pickup trucks, sitting at attention in the driver’s seat, draping their arm nonchalantly on top of their steering wheel (I have yet to see a woman lounge this way)? I notice them everywhere; cruising on Main Street in Rockland, in long lines at car washes, and parked at the far end of the lot at Walmart or Lowes (but rarely at construction sites). The drivers look proud as peacocks.

I’m not talking vintage trucks, those built in the 1980s, ‘90s or 2000 aughts, the ones dinged, dented, or gouged like they were driven through a hailstorm. Nor am I thinking about trucks that some contractors use, wood side rails with rot, truck beds rusted and glass shards lying about, or dull-blue body paint with the driver’s side door painted green or yellow–the workhorses of the working man or woman.

The trucks I am talking about look like they have just been driven from Fullers (now Quirk) Chevrolet/GMC, Shepard Toyota/Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram, or Rockland Ford, et al. (sorry if I missed any – I got winded).

Their owners lovingly wash and polish them, vacuum molecules of crumbs and dust from the inside seats, backs, and carpets, and scrub the plastic interior with what I hear is a special formula cleaner that gives off that new-truck smell. These dudes then stare down at the little people in their Prius or Corollas.

I fantasize they say to themselves:

“I love my truck. Don’t you love my truck? I think everybody loves my truck.”

What is it about men and their pretty trucks?

I don’t remember playing with trucks as a kid. Plastic war-toys, complete sets of little green soldiers, tanks, bazookas, and even a Bunker, were what I was into. I didn’t make ‘vroom, vroom’ truck noises, although I spat a lot making sounds of tank explosions.

I didn’t own a truck until I was in my fifties; I bought an older F-150 cheap from my brother-in-law. This truck came to an ignominious end, though: days after trading it in at a dealership in Ellsworth during the 2009 “Cash-For-Clunker Program”, we saw it in the dealership’s huge roll-off dumpster, hood down, with only a few feet of the truck bed, tailgate, and back wheels sticking out the top. There was even a picture of it in the Ellsworth American.

Still determined to be one of those guys without a pretty pickup, I bought a used Silverado at Fuller Chevrolet a few years ago, a big boy truck if there ever was one. It had little electronic bling, but it was clean and smooth running. I only ordered a tonneau cover for the truck bed.

Small things went wrong with the poor old truck after a few years, things that were not under warranty any longer. It got stuck in four-wheel drive. Twice, the dashboard screen showing radio stations and other functions went black and stayed that way. The OnStar service went off once, which brought the police to my home; I had never subscribed to OnStar. During the pandemic, it sometimes felt like I lived part time in the service department at Fullers.

“Good morning,” I would say to the friendly service manager as I waved to her and took my seat.

“Good afternoon. See you again soon,” I said to the assistant service manager when he told me the work was completed and after I paid the bill.

I wondered what it would be like to own a new truck.

“The color of truck you want, along with the limited options we talked about, exists, but it’s in Pennsylvania. Sorry. This one here has more options, and it’s just a little more expensive,” Kevin the salesperson said. There were only a couple of new trucks on the lot, and this was one of the least expensive.

I finally bought my first new pickup. After Kevin did an orientation on the myriad of electronics that came with the truck, I drove it off the lot and headed home.

At the first stoplight, a gleaming truck, a Ram 15K, pulled up next to me. The driver and I looked over at each other; he sat ramrod straight; I did, too. His arm hooked nonchalantly over the steering wheel; mine, too. We each nodded as the light turned green.

I thought, “I love my truck! Don’t you love my truck?”

Sadly, for that moment, I had become a brother peacock.

My truck is a big honker. It’s the wrong color and has unnecessary bling. But at least it’s dusty outside and unruly inside with a tool bag, dog booster seat, and grocery bags for Walmart on the back seat. I slouch in my seat and hold the steering wheel with two hands while resting them on my knees. But I love it.

I try valiantly not to be a peacock about my truck. But boats and airplanes, that’s another story. Now, has anybody seen my aviator sunglasses?

Mike Skinner is a writer who lives in Tenants Harbor. Skinner was a medic in the U.S. Army, a hospital executive, and a college educator. He is the author of “My Life as a Non-Valedictorian,” available through Maine Authors Publishing, local bookstores and Amazon and Kindle.

Related Headlines