The National Book Critics Award finalists were announced Saturday night at City Lights. Who doesn’t love City Lights? I won't go into any details or name any names, except to say that Maxine Hong Kinston gave a funny speech about how writers are crazy people. After the finalists were announced and the wine was all drunk up, everybody headed across the street to Tosca. I had to leave early but heard tell the night went into the wee hours and involved a spirited game of billiards (in the same room where Jane Ganahl once got the boot from the Boss).
Unfortunately, when I stepped out onto Broadway from Tosca, my car was missing. I’d wondered earlier in the evening why I’d been able to score such a sweet parking spot. I hitched a ride with Juan, the tow truck man (who had just towed more than a dozen cars and said he was tired of towing them so he was glad mine was the last one), and after shelling out $280 (that doesn’t include the parking ticket), I was on my way home in my trusty 1998 Jeep Cherokee, which I will go to my grave believing is the best car ever made, bar none, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
When I got home, Oscar was glad to see me and all wigged out about the adventure, in which he hadn’t taken part. He loves nothing more than a good tow truck, but he’s never gotten to ride in one. I told him to stick with me–I ride in them all the time. Believe it or not, there’s a real art to arriving on the scene just as the tow truck is leaving, so you don’t have to hail a cab in order to go get your car out of lockdown. I have a special knack for it. And this may be the wrong thing to say in public, but I like being inside strangers' trucks. I always have. Only for short periods of time, of course, but I like what you learn about a man by riding in his truck. Part of it has to do with the way he drives the thing (Juan’s ride was a bit jerky), and part of it has to do with how clean or cluttered his dashboard is, and part of it has to do with what he keeps on the seat between the passenger side and the driver’s side. I’m not going to tell you what Juan kept on his seat, because that’s his private business, but one of these days I’m going to write an essay about various men I have known and their trucks; of course I will change all the names.
My husband once had a truck, but that was a long time ago. We rode from Arkansas to New York City in that truck, and the day after we arrived at our new digs on the Upper West Side (84th & Central Park West, if you’re wondering), he sold it to some guy who promptly put it on a boat to another country. It was a baby truck, a Mitsubishi. It’s one thing to handle a big old Ford in a snowstorm, quite another to get your significant other safely cross-country during a blizzard in a little Mitsubishi with broken windshield wipers. Which is probably how I ended up married. I’ve never given a damn what kind of car a man drives, I can’t tell a Porcsche from a Mazda from a Dodge Dart. But a man in a truck is another thing entirely. I should make the disclaimer here that I am not a fan of new trucks, those big shiny made-for-a-war-zone monstrosities that scream “I could have paid the mortgage but instead I bought this truck, and right now my wives and kids are between houses.” No, I like a man’s truck to have character, like it’s been through some weather.
You can take the girl out of Alabama, but…