Wednesday, May 13, 2009
...She’s staring at me as I tell Petey everything’s going to be okay for the fiftieth time, hoping that maybe I will acknowledge her presence and tell her what a good dog she is. But instead I am secretly wishing I wasn’t such a sucker for homeless animals. But I am, and probably always will be.
For some odd reason, the trucks horsepower decides to kick in and ol’ Clifford decides to speed up. Of course my foot has been pressed hard against the accelerator the whole time and I had only witnessed a pitiful outcome of 35 mph. But now going 75 mph, I again realize why I had fallen in love with my truck. And I quickly chastised myself for having doubted that love.
I had had a perfectly good truck – a completely paid off 1997 F-250 Power stroke diesel – a great truck. But it just wasn’t me. Every time I drove it, I felt like one of those rich girls who looked like a spoiled brat whose father had bought her a nice truck. And I decided I needed a change. So Justin, my longtime boyfriend at the time, and I decided to go look for something new. But we ran into a few difficulties. The first one was that we needed something that got good gas mileage, since we lived 35 miles from Billings, Montana, and that’s where we both worked. So we were leaning towards a car. But in my heart, I knew I needed a truck. And we had a horse trailer that a car obviously couldn’t pull. Sometimes I took Harley, my 1 ½ year old quarter horse places, like the vet’s. So in reality we needed a truck in addition to the car. Besides Justin, like any other typical red blooded American male wanted something fast. I personally have never been into fast cars, mostly just big trucks, so the minute I laid eyes on Clifford I knew it was all over.
She was in the midst of a sea of newer models of Fords, Chevy’s and Dodges, so she stuck out like a sore thumb. A very big red sore thumb. Something very few people would appreciate completely, but I was no fool! It was love at first site. When I looked closer I was even more delighted. She was an extended cab 1978 F-250 with a long bed, a 351 Cleveland engine, an almost perfect original inside – minus the tape player – with a Dana60 front end. In my eyes, it was absolute perfection, except one minor detail; I had no clue how to drive a standard. Especially one that only had 4 gears!
So we talked out the details with the pushy salesman and we did a 3 for 1 swap. We ended up with a 1994 Toyota Celica for Justin and his speed demon ways, a 1998 Dodge Neon for me because of the awesome gas mileage, and of course, the love of my life, Clifford. But then she didn’t have that name. The name only came to me today, as I was walking up to her, completely loaded down with all my stuff, with the white horse trailer sitting gracefully behind her. And I thought “She’s big and red, kind of like Clifford the big red dog.” So Clifford the big, red truck fit perfectly. Trouble is, everyone thinks Clifford the dog is a boy, but I swear, when I was younger, I remember reading a Clifford book where they thought Clifford was a boy, until “he” had puppies. I swear. But either way, she was christened Clifford.
Look, there’s a sign for Deerlodge, Montana. This area seems to always make me angry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful – just like the whole state of Montana. Big sky country as it is affectionately called by many. But every time I come through this particular town, I think about my first speeding ticket.
It was December 31 of last year, 1999. Justin and I were driving to Oregon to visit my family. But I decided to drive first. Well, Montana didn’t have a speed limit at that time, except at night. I was driving the 1997 Ford, and it drove extremely smooth for such a big truck. So I didn’t really notice I was going 75 mph in the 65 mph zone. Of course, it was lightly snowing, but in Montana you can’t really let a little snow hold you back, otherwise you wouldn’t really get anywhere. Besides everyone else seemed to be going just as fast. But I was singled out by this wonderful cop who I swear was just filling his yearly quota before midnight, being as it was December 31, and all.
“Do you know how fast you were going?”
“No, officer, I have no clue, maybe 70?” I tried to look as sweet and innocent as I could, but it didn’t seem to be working right for me this night.
“About 78 in this 65. That’s a $50.00 ticket. Why are you in such a hurry, young lady?” This cop was maybe 22 and he was calling me young lady?!
“No reason, just going to visit the family. Trying to get somewhere.”
I was hoping to just get a warning. Justin seemed to always get warnings. He’d been pulled over, in the 2 years I had known him, about 10-15 times for various reasons, but mostly speeding. But he only had 2 tickets, and he had yet to get one in the speed limitless state of Montana. They just gave him warnings every time. When in all reality, Justin, who loves to drive fast, might have learned a lesson or two if only they had written him a ticket a time or two.
Little ol’ me, who considers 80 mph the highest speed I can go –ever – should at least get one warning.
“I’m going to cut you a break, it being New Years Eve and all”
Here it comes, the warning.
“I’m going to write down that you were going 75 mph, so your fine will only be $25.00.”
Whoa! Where’s the warning?! I guess luck just wasn’t with me this particular day, along with the whole cute and innocent thing. Does this cop not realize that although he has done me a “favor” by making it only $25, my insurance will go up by God knows how much, and I’ll be paying for the “only $25” ticket for about 3 more years?! But I guess it was a perfect way to end the New Year; you would think. But it only got better.
So Justin decides he should drive. Not a ½ hour later the red and blue lights are behind us, again.
“Sir, license and registration, please.”
Ha, ha, I think to myself, he’s going to get a ticket, too! Kind of like a little kid getting her brother or sister in trouble, just because she already got in trouble. But I was completely oblivious to the fact that Justin getting a ticket – in essence – was the same as me getting one, as we were both on the same insurance.
“Well, son. This time I’m going to give you a warning. It’s New Years, after all. This snow is getting heavier, drive carefully. And have a safe New Years.”
Warning?! Where did that come from? He was going 85 mph and it was snowing pretty heavily. And Justin in no way looks sweet and innocent. He looks more like an underfed skin head. I was only truly upset for about 5 min. Then I came to the conclusion that the cop must have been gay. I mean, he did smile an awful lot in Justin’s direction. I was attracted to Justin, why wouldn’t a gay cop be. Justin did have an undeniable ruggedness to him that not just anybody could resist. Oh well, I’ve learned you win some, and you lose some. Damn’t though, it’s really nice to win all of them.
Oh no! That sign just said, “Last gas for 50 miles.”....