Friday, August 15, 2008
Here's a scene from my upcoming novel (Man of the House, release date: Sept. 30) that created some controvery among my editors in New York. Before reading this you need to know that Linc Menner is the stay-at-home dad who's gone kinda testosterone-crazy, and Violet is his teen-age daughter.
"I need a truck," I say to Violet as we inch our way through the sluggish traffic of U.S. 41.
"Dad, you don't need a truck," she says.
"Yeah, I do."
"Lots of reasons."
"So give me one."
"Okay, Miss Smartyboots. Last week, Stan the Plumber's pickup was filled with pipe for another job, and we had to fit the Corian walls for the shower in the van. We couldn't even get the door shut. It would have been easier if I'd had a truck. It was a safety issue, Violet. Safety comes first. Always."
"But the renovation's going to end, and you won't need a truck anymore.''
"Yeah," I say, "But I can always use a truck."
"Well, I'd feel stupid riding around in a truck."
"They're cool, Violet. Look at that one," I say, pointing to a silver Ford F150. Now that's a truck."
"No, I like that one," she says, pointing to the white Chevy Silverado behind it.
"That's a chick truck," I say.
"There are two kinds of trucks. Chick trucks and man trucks. That's a chick truck."
"Because it's got a back seat. Real trucks don't have back seats. Real pickup trucks are for transporting things. Most of the trucks out there today are chick trucks. That one? Chick truck. There's another and another. They're all chick trucks. Ninety percent of the ones out on the road today are chick trucks.
"Look at that one. The designers steal the space from the bed of the pickup truck to make room for those stupid seats. Look. Can you see that? You couldn't fit a kiddie wagon in the bed of that truck, let along two Talbots shopping bags. Women drive those trucks. Or men who wear gold jewelry. Real men don't drive those trucks."
She giggles. I haven't heard her giggle around me for the longest time. It gives me a warm feeling in my stomach, prompting me to talk more.
"And the other thing? See that pickup over there? And that one? … And that one? You see what they all have in common?"
"See how the beds are black? They've all got plastic liners in the beds. I hate bed liners. You might as well call them panty liners."
"Dad, they keep the pickups nice, so they don't get scratched. Right?"
"Pickups are working automobiles, like mules. They should be filled with scratches. Driving a pickup truck with a bed liner is like eating barbecue with a bib on. Men who drive trucks with liners are pussies."
Violet looks at a blue Dodge Ram stopped in the lane to the right of us. It's a king cab, but not with a full second seat. It's one of the shortened versions with jump seats you can pull down when you're not storing stuff back there.
I used to like Rams until I saw a posting on truckblog.com. Someone pointed out how the new Ram logo looks just like an encyclopedic illustration of a woman's sexual anatomy, the top of the horns being the ovaries, the mouth being the vagina. They really do look similar.
"What about that one?" she says, pointing to the Ram.
"Better," I answer. "But it's still a chick truck."
"He doesn't look much like a chick to me, Dad. He looks like he could kick your butt. And he's giving us a really nasty stare right now."
"He'd be cowering if I were in my black, full-bed, F250," I say.
. . . . .
Me again: Okay, here's where the controversy came in. There was one major change made in the text. Insert the word "pussy" everywhere you see "chick." That's right, I called them "pussy trucks." The word seemed to better fit my character's temperament. Though my agent didn't seem to mind the word, one of my editors did.
Pussy. Raised by a feminist, the word should bother me, but it doesn't. When we were kids we called each other "pussy" if we were afraid to do something. (Usually it was me who was called the pussy; I was always reluctant to fall in with the crowd, afraid of getting caught.)
Pussy: Is it any worse than the male equivalent: cock?
They both refer to animals at times: Pussy = cat. Cock = rooster.
But, I have to admit ... as sexual terms both pussy and cock are very visual: Her pussy. His cock. Sounds kinda naughty.
(Maybe I should address this at a later time. Can you tell I watched all of season 2 of "Sex in the City" last night? When you watch an entire season at once you tend to become de-sensitized to things sexual because those episodes are SO filled with such words as C and P.)
I'm curious. I want to take a poll here. What do you think? Should it be "pussy truck" or "chick truck?"