The Face in the Rearview Mirror

In your car or on your bike, if that face in your rearview mirror looks extremely angry, its frowning eyes slits and its horrible teeth bared, with muscles bulging as if about to pounce and tear your heart out and stomp on it—then it’s a recent-model pickup truck. The actual driver of the pickup might be a jolly person but the message you get is, let’s say, otherwise.

FITGardenerThe New York Times (“A Truck Tailgate Party: Fire Up the Grilles,” May 17) has some frank quotes about how pickups are purposely designed to make everyone nervous about their intentions. The designer of the new Silverado describes the design of that truck as “a fist in the wind,” and everyone’s trying to design an “aggressive appearance.” The new Ford pickup has a grille that “forms a shape that suggests the nostrils of a bull,” and so on. The Ram is… a ram.

I’m currently the owner of an aged and much smaller Toyota pickup (which sports no discernible expression on its face, unless that expression is wistful), and I keep hoping the industry will revive the smaller truck so useful to those who don’t intend to pull houses off their foundations or go into battle against fire-breathing dragons, and so on. A small (perhaps even electric) truck could do many jobs required by gardeners, small farmers, parts runners, and what have you, efficiently and without lugging along several extra thousand pounds of intimidation.

It’s not, however, that I’m against the larger pickups playing dress-up to look fierce—I think everyone should have a rich interior fantasy world (I have one of my own)—though I don’t know why they don’t just take it to the logical conclusion and name their vehicles after supervillains and provide fake smoke and deafening screams and red eyes from the costume department (“coming soon: Bloody DeathDealer from Ram!”).

My own fantasy world is somewhat more humble, and usually involves women, but there is a place for a fantasy pickup. As it happens, I had just finished drawing a picture of my dream pickup, what I’m calling the “Fit Gardener,” a truck that’s a Honda FIT with a small but useable bed when I read the Times article on the industry’s increasingly giant trucks. Lo! The despair, etc. There’s simply no chance of seeing a small, practical pickup while this arms race continues. In my ensuing funk a song echoed in my mind (there’s room in there for an echo) which went something like “Fist in the wind, all we drive are fists in the wind, everything is fists in the wind,” and so on, repeat unto madness.

By Jack Compere

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