I have a problem, which is that I have recently become a truck guy. This was not really a logical extension of any choice I’ve made up to this point in my life: I live in a large metropolitan area with a vast, if criminally mismanaged, public transit system. I didn’t drive as a teenager, and I’ve lived in several cities more car-friendly than this one without ever owning a vehicle myself. I don’t objectively believe idiots like me should be allowed to clog up city streets and pump harmful exhaust into the air just because driving is fun. But the person I live with and date needs to haul big hunks of metal across the city on a regular basis, and we often visit friends who live 500-odd miles up the East Coast, some of whom have built their homes at the end of dirt roads. For the record, I am aware that these are not particularly good reasons to saddle yourself with several years of consumer debt; I’m just relaying to you what we were telling ourselves at the time. Whatever. The heart wants what it wants.
The arrangement we made with the bank to finance a used Toyota Tacoma will probably be among the most long-term commitment I ever make. I will owe money for the truck for longer than I’ve ever managed to maintain a romantic relationship. I half-expect to buried in it. But the truck is the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever owned, and I have become one of those people who is constantly talking about “running out to the truck” to get something and “taking the truck up to Maine,” as if the fact that the vehicle has an access cab and a six-foot bed means it’s an insult to call it a car, even though that’s exactly what it is. I love it so much I would probably sleep in it if it weren’t so cold. When my friends come over I cosplay as a Long Island dad and take them outside and open the doors and point out all of its “features.” I recently told my partner that when we break up I am taking it, even if it’s technically half his and even if he, a guy who builds physical objects for a living, has far better uses for it than a person like me who just makes blogs. A few weeks ago, I took the truck—which I have named Wylene—up a tiny mountain path. The thing has a special mode where it literally off-road drives itself. It’s absurd.
But like all massive purchases that demand love and identification based on the sheer psychological weight of knowing how much you will have to pay, forever, my affection for Wylene means I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make Wylene stronger and more attractive. I’ve begun to spend a lot of time on Tacoma-specific websites and forums watching videos of (mostly) dudes building complex in-bed storage systems and welding together top racks. (Though, for the record, I will never ever call the truck a Taco.) In any case, this is sort of a diary of shit that I’ve bought, but it’s mostly a diary of shit I have wanted to buy in my extended pickup-specific fever dream. None of it is particularly viable in the near future, but I guess it’s nice to dream?
Probably the most realistic purchase, considering that I have just signed away the vast majority of my disposable income, are these Carhartt seat covers, which are pretty much exclusively for our short-haired but endlessly shedding dog. In trucks, as in clothing, I have made the ill-considered decision to go all black while also living with an animal who constantly emits clouds of white fur. A trailer hitch something like this is also in this category, especially since we’ve predictably become something of an in-house towing company for all our friends and family. (Things we have carted around recently: two apartment’s worth of furniture, a steel fireplace, the soundboard of a piano, an ancient chest freezer. We tried a boat, but it didn’t fit, hence the need for a trailer.)
I used to think I’d have the time and inclination to go full airbush—what I really want is a nice low-key boxy line down Wylene’s side, maybe with a little taper at the end. But I’ve come to believe I could be satisfied, at least on a temporary basis, by vinyl racing stripes like these. The minor threat style here is pretty classy, for a racing stripe I am absolutely insisting we affix to the truck over my long-suffering boyfriend’s protest. I’m thinking either gray or dusty blue.
Speaking of completely unnecessary cosmetic improvements: After thinking about it for a bit, I’ve decided the three-inch lift would be the ideal added height for Wylene. Does she need it, given her regular duties? Absolutely not. But I definitely know exactly how much the kit costs. I follow these people on Instagram who are doing the whole “van life” thing with a vehicle that’s newer but similar to mine, and while I have very little patience for their choreographed meanderings through America’s various landscapes I have to admit their truck, which is lifted three inches, looks fucking sick:
The model I have is a two-door with an access cab, so there are little flip-down seats in the back. Underneath the seats are two small storage boxes, and I’ve seen some pretty cool projects where people convert them into proper coolers to keep ice and snacks. (This is a project I am also planning to do.) The problem is that the dog can’t really sit on a tiny seat like that, and he’s usually our only passenger. Right now we’ve just got a piece of plywood covered by a moving blanket balancing back there, but I like these seat deletes on Goose Gear, which look somewhat slicker and mean the dog and all our random shit and probably some cold drinks can all cohabitate back there.
It upsets me to have to mention it, but a truck cap is necessary for the ideal scenario in which I would throw a small mattress in the bed for last-minute excursions and lazy cold-weather camping. It’s been nearly impossible (for me) to find a decent one used, and the really nice ones—LEER, for example—have all kinds of cool window options, which would mean that if I couldn’t pay my rent I could always just comfortably move into Wylene. I know people who have made their own, but I’m not sure if we could pull together something that was load-bearing. And unfortunately, all the good prefab shit costs like two grand.
This has been “Shit I Bought,” comprised of shit we actually bought. No company compelled us to write about it for any reason. We bought it all, for better and often for worse, with our own money and of our own free will.