When we recently posted our 10-Step Program for Real Southerness, it of course evoked some debates about what was included and what was not. One such debate deserves a bit of reckoning.
Reader Jill Manuel noted the lack of one iconic piece of Southern manhood: the pick-up truck. We admit; we blew it. How we managed to compile the list without including the official mode of transport of the South (if you don’t include John Deere tractors, that is) is beyond us. Mea culpa and all that other Latin stuff.
Meanwhile, our TFGC (Token Female Guest Contributor) Deborah Krauss took issue with the inclusion of guns at #10. It seems with the suburbanization of the South, the view of guns as a requirement of Southern manhood might be slipping … at least in the eyes of the Southern belles out there. (By the way, do any men actually read this site? If not, we’re good with irony.)
In an ideal world, both would be included. They’re nigh inseparable. Most of us grew up with at least one male role model who kept his guns proudly displayed on a rack in the rear window of the pickup. To choose between the two is like Sophie’s Choice, except, you know … really hard. (SPOILER ALERT: Let’s face it, the daughter never had a chance.)
So the question before us is this: which is more important, the gun or the truck? Let’s break the question down before we put it to a vote.
Consideration #1: The Ladies
Truck: In an age where most car makers employ bucket seats and a center console, the pick-up truck might be the last bastion of that classic of cruising comfort: the bench seat. By extension, that makes it the last bastion of date-night romance. How else are you going to pull classic moves like pretending the heat is on the fritz in order to hold that belle just a little closer? For generations, Southern men drove with their hands at ten and two: the left hand at ten o’clock on the wheel and the right hoping to find its way to two … well, you get the idea. Center consoles are simply un-American! Now with drive-in moves having a bit of a renaissance, the demand for bench seating will only increase. I just hope “them boys” up in Detroit are listening. This is good marketing advice.
Gun: There comes a time in every Real Southern Man’s life when he is less concerned about having bench seating himself and more concerned about who else might have it. And that time is when his daughter begins dating. A casually brandished double-barrel will convince any young pick-up driving paramour that he should trade that thing in on a nice, practical subcompact.
Consideration #2: Man’s Best Friend
Truck: Dogs love to go for a ride. There’s nothing more exhilarating to a dog than the feel of the wind stringing slobber down the side of his face as his eye sockets peel back to the size of subwoofers. (Which, of course, is the punchline to the joke: “What do you call a dog who lays behind the seat of your pick-up?”) If you’ve never ridden nervously behind a truck with a half dozen mongrels in the bed jockeying for prime position on the wheel wells, then you’ve never been to my South. And who needs some fancy schmancy security system when there’s an old hound in the back?
Gun: Perhaps the only thing as inextricably linked to real Southern dogs as a truck is a gun. In the South, guns are still mostly for hunting … and defying liberals, but that’s another issue. And what better way to go hunting than with a good dog by your side? He points. You shoot. He retrieves. You clean the kill. He cleans his junk. It’s a perfect system. On the flip side, guns and dogs inevitably conjure up images of little Travis having to put Old Yeller out of his misery. *sniff* Poor Yeller…
Consideration #3: Crime
Gun: As that old NRA chestnut goes, “If you outlaw guns, soon only outlaws will have them.” Many peaceful, patriotic, law-abiding Southern men own guns for a moment they hope will never come: when they have to defend life and property from criminals. It’s not pretty, and it’s not romantic, but there it is.
Truck: Then again, with a truck, you can not only run the criminal over, but also use it to retrieve any stuff he may have gotten from your house.
Consideration #4: Apocalypse
Maybe it’s because of the dwindling world oil supplies, threat of hyperinflation, increased vulnerability of our electrical grid and growth of anti-biotic resistant superbugs. Or maybe it’s that we’ve been watching too much Walking Dead and Doomsday Preppers, but preparing for the worst seems to be on our minds a lot lately.
Truck: It’s useful for hauling supplies or fellow survivors, rugged enough to handle a crumbling infrastructure and fast enough to elude hordes of flesh-eating mutants. However, it also requires something that will be in short supply if the stuff goes down: fuel. When the fuel runs out, though, you could repurpose it into a wagon, shelter, barricade or even a decorative planter. (This particular use can already be found on back roads throughout the South, typically in yards where all the tree trunks are painted white up to about five feet.
Gun: It’ll stop zombies, marauders, invading hordes, maybe an alien (if it’s squishy enough) or even a raging robot. However, as with the truck, it relies on dwindling resources: bullets. Of course, when the bullets run out, you can go all caveman and use it as a club. Sure, it’s messy, but it’s far more satisfying. And think of the upper body benefits!
So you tell us: