Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ah, the 80s: Pickup Trucks, Parties and My Bright Red Neck

(Post copyright 2011, Dawn Weber)
At 17, I purchased a vehicle so that I'd have a way to achieve my dream...

Attend all parties.

It's good to have goals.

McDonald's job earnings paid for my ride, a 1984 Ford Ranger. But the McDonald's job also interfered with my mission of attending all parties.

So sometimes, I just didn't go to my McDonald's job.

Priorities. I had them.

Yes, my first car was a truck, and it was fantastic. Never caught fire even once. (Unlike that piece-of-shit second car of mine, the Flaming Fairmont of Death. That sum-bitch tried to kill me. Several times.)

As you can see, I've been pondering Deep, Meaningful Bullshit About Life Long Time Ago When We Was Fab again, and I'm feeling kind of down because I've just found out I'm about to lose an old friend.

U.S. Ford Ranger production will end this year, on Dec. 22.

Reality: such a buzzkill.

Since its 1982-83 inception, 7 million Rangers have been sold in the U.S. One of them, the dark blue 1984 one with the strawberry-scented Rolling Stones air freshener, was mine.

I chose a pickup because they are an integral ingredient for a proper get together in my hometown - a Springfield Party. They're perfect transportation to your muddy party venue.

Yeah. Where you see a field or an abandoned strip mine, we see a dance floor.

Not only do trucks take you to the get together, they provide handy tailgate seating, and haul wood for the fire. And where I come from, it is not a party without a fire. And possible brawls. And potential police involvement.

It's all good, though - parties that don't kill you only make you stronger. And I fancied myself pretty badass heading to the fields in my sweet old man truck pickup. All the guys were SO not, not even close to checkin' my style.

Because really. What's sexier than a pint-sized, economically challenged girl in a 2-wheel-drive grandpa truck?

They see me rollin'.

Good, good times.

But then I promptly wrecked it. Three times. In less than two years. Not after parties, no sir - on the way to work and school. In broad-damn-daylight.

Driving skillz - I lacked them.

The insurance premium grew to an astronomical rate, and I was forced to get rid of the Ranger and inherit my Mom's beater, the aforementioned effin' Flaming Fairmont of Death. A mere sedan.

The truck ended up back at my hometown Ford Dealer, and I'm sure it then passed through several more hands and attended several more parties before rusting to death in the junkyard.

Although they weren't - and aren't - nearly as awesome as my grandpa truck 1984 Ranger, I've owned three more trucks since, including the red F-150 from Craigslist that we have now. The Husband says it's his truck.

The Husband is wrong.

Even though I'm older and possibly peri-menopausal shut up, I won't ever be without a pickup. You never know when you'll need to haul Walmart bags. Or a keg. Or throw a Springfield party.

Because where you see a tailgate, I see a dance floor.

Long may you run, blue Ranger. I miss you.


  1. I never, but always wanted a truck. Picked up a used Mazda 2001 B3000 about 3 years ago. Everyone who saw it said, Oh yea, that is a Ford Ranger! Dumb me. It has a window that opens and jump seats in back. I can haul 10 ft lumber with ease. It is practical. When the kids were little babies it was always, no, we can't have them bouncing around the bed.

    I understand the love of trucks now and know how you feel about those first rides.

  2. Wow! I'm impressed. You had a truck AND you're funny. You ARE a badass!

    Maybe you'll get another grandpa truck again someday. :)

  3. I never understood the pick-up thing...however, I do remember a long drive on the turnpike in a Ford ranger with my brother & his wife. She may have just been his girlfriend at the time, crossing most of Indiana & Ohio in the humid August heat with no AC, 3 of us crammed onto the one bench seat, coming home after attending a family reunion. Now that was a good time!

  4. I have a 1995 Ford Ranger parked outside I bought brand new. It still has all the original surfing sticker I put on it like Billabong Boards, Hang Loose, O'Neil wet suits. It's red and has 225,000 miles on it and still runs like a champ. It still has a small dent on the top of the left bed panel when Jesus hit a golf ball into my truck. I bet you didn't know Jesus plays golf.


  5. Ha! I'll bet you were the belle of the ball in your pickup! Great post!

  6. Ha! I'll bet you were the belle of the ball in your pickup! Great post!

  7. My husband wants another pick up so bad. He had his chance and went with an SUV instead. All the better to keep his golf clubs dry, he said. He was a Chevy Silverado kind of guy. Now he's an old man golfer kind of guy.

    My first car? A totally bad-ass baby poop green AMC Gremlin. With no radio. Or windsheild wipers. But at least it didn't catch fire! Ever.

  8. First car: '78 Chevy Monza. I totaled it during an ill-advised post-midnight run to the Outer Banks.
    Second car: '80 Chevy Monza. What do you MEAN it's the same kind of car?? No way. It was a different shade of brown. Mrs. Penwasser #1 got it in the divorce settlement. The engine blew up six months after we spilt up. Karma (or should that be...CARma? I know, I crack myself up).
    Third car: '83 Nissan Sentra. Japanese. Engine didn't blow up, but dinosaurs kept following me.
    Fourth car: '84 Chevy Camaro. Well, technically it wasn't mine. It was my girlfriend's, but it was one of the things which attracted me to the woman who became Mrs. Penwasser II (the other two were her boobs). Had to sell it when we moved to Maine. Didn't like the snow. Or the seafood (I know, that doesn't make any sense).
    Fifth car: '88 Ford Ranger!! Yep, that's right. Little man in a little truck. Didn't have a back seat, though. Which became a drag when Mrs. Penwasser and I reproduced.
    Sixth car: '91 Toyota Camry. Took it to Quebec. Sold it the next year. I don't think the two were related.
    Seventh car: '92 Mazda MPV. Had a rotary engine, I think. Or maybe not. Who the F knows? Suffice it to say that, since I now had a child, I was now into my "Mini-Van" stage.
    Eighth car: '98 Ford Explorer. To make up for the fact that Mrs. Penwasser sold the Ranger while I was at sea, she bought me this cool vehicle. Since it was an SUV, I guess I was now destroying the planet. I started receiving hate mail from Al Gore.
    Ninth car: '00 Nissan Quest. Another Japanese car! Another mini-van! We took this one to Iceland. It came back with us. Plus, a dog (these two events aren't related, either).
    Tenth car: '05 Subaru Forester. As the kids have gotten older, we've started to downscale our mini-van purchases. This was our first used-car and we really like it. But, the ghosts from the previous owners really creep us out when they want to drive.
    Eleventh car: '05 Dodge Dakota. Another truck for Al!! Meaning: Little Man in a Bigger Truck. No, I'm not compensating for anything. Well...
    The next two are my kids' cars. But, despite that, I still own them (the cars, not the kids).
    '03 Nissan Sentra: The "ghetto sled", this car has well over a 100K miles on it. But, it runs like a top.
    '00 Chevy Cavalier: This also has well over a 100K miles on it. It's an American car so you can guess how well this runs.
    Wow, this was a long comment. Hope you took a break when reading it.

  9. I weep for you.

    And I raise my can o' domestic beer in your honor. (Even though you're Ford and I'm Chevy; you're Miller Lite and I'm a Bud gal; you're Wally, I'm Tarjay....)I can look past it, bdb!

  10. There's nothing like your first car. If my 1968 Valiant could talk, I'd be ruined. I also weep for you (but at least you have the memories). I LOL at your sum bitch Fairmont. I had a car catch fire on me too.

  11. My first was a 74 Impala. Wicked ride. By the time I got it it was already 7 years old and I ended up wrecking it on all four sides, hahaha. I love my GMC Sierra 4x4 now. Crappy mileage but you just can't beat a V8.

  12. Wow you guys and your cars!!! LOL. I've had 4 of my own cars and 6 work cars. Oh sure I know what make they were - but there it ends. I drive 'em, hubby looks after 'em. End of car affair!


  13. Hahaha. You and I didn't grow up so differently! :-)

  14. "Because really. What's sexier than a pint-sized, economically challenged girl in a 2-wheel-drive grandpa truck?" <-Another great Dawnism.

    I've never driven one but have been a Ranger passenger. It doesn't seem right that they will be no longer.


  15. I still miss my '69 Cornbinder, which I got after the Ford caught fire with a bed full of cow shit. It took four direct hits, including one by a man driving away in a stolen car after he murdered its owner, and barely got rumpled. Finally an off-duty cop T-boned it at an intersection. It still looked the same (the cop's itty bitty pickup shortened right up), but it never moved again. Sob.

  16. You, Ms. itty bitty red neck, tail gate dancer, are my hero.

  17. R.J. - Aw...let the babies jump around the bed.
    Linda - One can only hope!!
    Kerbi - sounds like delirium to me. :)
    Ron - It is the rare Ranger that runs like a champ. Mine ran like crap. But I loved it so.
    Eva - I was something alright ;)
    Dawn - I bet you was HAWT in your Gremlin! haha. All the boys be checkin' your style.
    Pennwasser - "an ill-advised post-midnight run to the Outer Banks." That is a post, right there. Also? Camaros and boobs go hand in hand. Heh heh. Hands...boobs...that's what she said.
    MTM - Thank you, dear friend. You and I are different, but very much alike also, and I love it!!
    Heidi - If ANY of our first cars could talk, we'd ALL be ruined, I'm sure. :)
    Nix - Impala! All the girls be checkin' your style!!
    Marlia - I know. Guess I have a little "man" in me. (That's what she said.);)
    Poetry - Indeed!
    Jen - I love it. Glad somebody else has a red neck under their business suit.
    Robyn - I am full of Dawn-isms. And stuff.
    Murr - Your comment was so full of shit that I had to go check out your blog. Great stuff!!
    Gene Pool - As you are mine, my dear. :)

  18. You are one bad Mama-Jamma. Love your priorities, skillz, and taste in dance floors. I would spray paint the underside of a bridge with you anytime.

  19. There’s an old cliché, “You are what you drive.” Corvette? Mid-life crisis; Chrysler Town & Country? Soccer mom; Lexus? Menopause. Sadly I'm the Town & Country, and my kids don't even play soccer. I'd feel cooler with a truck.

  20. Congratulations, Dawn!!!

    And the Ford Ranger? Oh, Dawn. We coulda partied...


  21. Like the song says, ":You can set my truck on fire, and roll it down a hill
    But I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe DeVille!"

  22. Great column!! :D
    Seeing that you and I share a deep love for (THE) Neil, I say we start a letter-writing campaign to beg him to come to C-Town and play. Neither he nor I are getting any younger; I want to hit that concert before I go into my walker years.

  23. My first few modes of transpo were trucks and I was Bad ASS in them. Took them places they never should have been and back too! Even convinced a boyfriend or two to buy trucks instead of the cars they thought were hot...

    Trucks- only space for one other person, I'm not running a shuttle service!
    Muddy crap? Throw it in the back.
    Little weight over the rear end- just means you can break it loose on a dirt road and slide it around the corners... Whheeeeeeeeeeeeee

  24. Iris - *shakes up spray paint can* Let's roll!!
    Lisa - You're still rollin' in cool. You can't stop the Lisa cool.
    Pearl - To party with you? I shall go buy another Ranger right now. :)
    Gale - Let's do it - get Neil here! However, you realize that I do one hell of a Neil Young impression. Save you cash and pass me the mike.
    One Bad - You are my kind of Pixie.

  25. They see me rollin'. Hellz yeah we see you rollin. And we adore you for it.

    Long live the umm...big truck thing that makes you more bad ass than I can ever hope to be.

  26. Oh Vixen. Gurrrlll, my mud-racin' friend :) , you'd fit right in with me and the Ranger.

  27. Funny you should say that....
    On Tuesday, I will be posting "Cars." This will pretty much take my comment here and dress it up with a little more commentary and some pictures (including one of me with my shirt off).
    Still, exposure of my bare sunken chest notwithstanding, you should check it out.
    Plus, I give you FULL CREDIT for inspiring this post. Including a link back to Lighten Up!

  28. I don't think you'd see a dance floor when you looked at my tail gate. Unless it's one for midgets(or is it little people?).
    It has a topper.
    I came over from Penwasser Place.

    welcome to me

    yummy stuff

  29. Wow Al was not kidding with his long drawn out bad ass you were indeed.

  30. See what I mean? I took a look at my comment and said, "Hey, that could make a post all on its own. Plus, it's already been written so all I have to do is throw in a few pictures. Bonus!"

  31. Not to fear. In two years Ford will come back with the New Ford Ranger. It will have different stripes.

  32. Yes, my first car was a truck, and it was fantastic. Never caught fire even once.
    Now I think that is a shame as it would probably be fun to own a Fire Truck

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