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Guys, if you ever want to feel completely stripped of your manhood, you can either start carrying a toy poodle around in a handbag – or get a minivan. I never tried out the poodle idea, but I can vouch for effects of the minivan.
In 1996, my wife Mary and I had three small kids and fate forced me to give up my four-wheel-drive. I replaced it with a Ford Windstar, which was like having the word “domesticated” tattooed across my forehead.
To be honest, Mary drove the van most of the time, but that just meant I had to drive our little red Toyota, which was almost as bad. It was a compact four-door car that got great gas mileage and ran well. It was incredibly practical, but it still looked like something a teenage girl would drive.
Obviously, I need a change.
So I traded the Toyota for a late-‘80s model full-size Ford Bronco that was jacked up to accommodate extra large mud-grip tires. The carpet was gone, the seats were ripped and there was mold growing in several places. Nearly everything inside was electric and almost none of it worked. Plus, it had an exhaust leak that made it sound like a machine gun when you revved the engine.
In short, it was perfect.
Not surprisingly, Mary didn’t share my fondness for the Bronco. I even explained that it had a bench seat in the front, so she could sit right next to me. All she said was, “Good. I’m sure your next wife will enjoy that. I’m not riding in it.” And she stuck to her guns for most of the time I had it.
One Monday morning, however, I had to go out of town for business. It would have been cheaper to charter a jet than buy that much gas for the Bronco, so Mary decided she could handle driving the old blue beast for one day and let me take the van.
I should pause here and add a couple of important details: First, I had gone hunting in Blountstown the day before my Monday trip. I killed a deer, field dressed him and with no one around to help, dragged him up onto the tailgate of the Bronco and into the back.
The second thing you should know is that the back window of the Bronco opened and closed electronically – but only when it felt like it. And it didn’t feel like it on the way back from Blountstown.
The next day, when Mary left to drop the kids off at pre-school, she tried closing it to keep from smelling the exhaust. At first it didn’t work, but just as they got to the car line, she finally got the window to roll up.
Remember the deer? Well, apparently a lot of its blood seeped in to the tailgate of the Bronco. When Mary hit the switch, the window emerged from its slot, covered in all the grossness left behind from the deer.
She said it looked like something out of a horror movie. I can only imagine the looks on the faces of the uptight, yuppie parents at the school. The Bronco might as well have had “Helter Skelter” painted down the side.
Right about then, Mary was mad as a hornet and I was in Jacksonville, happily unaware.
As soon as the kids were dropped off, she went straight to the nearest car wash, slammed the door and in an angry growl said, “I need this truck washed really good, right now. And make sure you get every bit of that blood off.”
Mary said the guy slowly backed away and asked if she was all right. She thought he was acting a bit odd, but he got right to work cleaning the old vehicle.
It didn’t dawn on her until a few minutes later that he probably figured she had just killed someone and dumped the body. He obviously didn’t want to be the next one to take a ride in back.
Much to his relief, Mary finally explained about the deer. She also promised him that if there was ever going to be a dead person the back of that vehicle, it would most certainly be the guy who made the mess, not the one cleaning it up.