Power Trip

Most guys like muscle cars, but cowboys like muscle pickups—four-wheel drives with Cummins, Duramax, or Powerstroke engines. I just like throwing around power.

It’s seldom that I get to drive our souped-up pickup; a black Dodge diesel dually. The rare times I do drive it, the trailer’s hooked on to haul kids to rodeos or the butcher critter for processing.

My husband was recently forced to let me take it up without the trailer for a long-standing appointment sixty miles away, to install a power chip and get a tune-up. He had an urgent need to haul 2,000 gallons of water to our cows but needed a tire on the water truck repaired first. Tackling those jobs was more than I could handle, but I had no problem handling the six-speed dually.

When he explained I’d have to take it up, like a teenager I tried to act as though it was an inconvenience and downplayed my enthusiasm for the opportunity to drive it trailer-free. And like a parent of a teenager, my husband expressed hesitancy and worry over letting me drive the dually; repeating instructions to be careful and watch out for surrounding traffic. I replied with “I GOT IT!”… “YES!”… “CAN I GO NOW?”—type responses then turned around and headed for the pickup, hiding a grin.

On the drive up while listening to the rattling diesel engine, I thought power just vibrated throughout the cab and was confident I looked impressive. It wasn’t until I headed home that I understood real power, the obsession, and the reason for my limited access all this time. After hanging around for the all-day appointment I was anxious to get going. I blasted out of the parking lot saying, “WHOA!” out loud to no one in particular. A different kind of adrenaline rush came over me. I had possession of more power—power to make others envious and intimidated that a woman was driving a newly enhanced heavy duty pickup. It was hard not to smile while smoking like a big black jet past sluggish cars, pickups with trailers and semis up steep hills.

As I unleashed this revamped power by persistently testing it out in various ways, I came up with reasons why I haven’t been cut loose with the dually very often. I would  develop an addiction to power (too late), want to trade in my SUV for a dually, get belligerent and intimidate people with the dually’s size, loud rattle and monster grill, drag race other pickups up steep hills or get too sassy (too late).

When our dog alarmed everyone I was home, my husband met me in the driveway, looking for signs of injury (to the pickup). He asked how the appointment went and sensed I was OD’d on a power trip. I wished I would’ve had the power to shut up. I said too much about my experimental power tests and before I had a chance to come off my diesel engine high, he apprehended my power and the dually had the horse trailer back on.

I wonder how fast I’d be in a drag race up hills with a horse trailer.

This column was originally published August 19-25, 2007

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