When Brooke told me she was pregnant, I considered this crazy thought for a long, stressful 24 hours: sell the TJ, cash out. Put the backseat in, give it a good wax job, and prepare to send it off with a college girl who likes it since it’s red and convertible. The horror. For a last hurrah I’d have to tell her, “Be sure to change the snorkel fluid once every 3000 miles.”
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I settled into the idea, though, but didn’t dare think or talk about it while driving my Jeep. She wouldn’t like that. She’d come up with hundreds of reasons, mostly nostalgic, why I should keep her.
“Maybe I can get a Commander,” I thought while mowing the grass. Yes, I could picture it: tricking out an XK and doing it right the first time: rock sliders, 33” BFGs on a set of AEV wheels, hidden winch, rear tire carrier, remote reservoir shocks, plenty of auxiliary lighting connected to a dual battery system that would also power a 45-quart freezer/fridge. Outfit an on-board water tank for showering, too. I’d be the coolest dad around with a sweetly modded Jeep Commander that was well used in the Mexican deserts and the trails of the southwest. We could pack in a whole litter of adventure kids and live for weeks. Tug a Chaser Adventure Trailer behind it and set off on a land cruise to the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. A pair of double kayaks could fit on top, and mountain bikes on the trailer.
I shared my thoughts with my wife, who just had to remind me, “Awwww, Mark. You can’t get rid of that Jeep. We honeymooned in it remember? Camped at Joshua Tree, went to Yosemite and Zion. And all those times we went rock climbing around Arizona, kayaking in Mexico. Plus you’ve put so much work into it. You can’t get rid of it now. Keep it. You love that Jeep.”
One thing she didn’t mention, yet something of which I was very aware: my two Jeep-owning best friends would have killed me if I put it up for sale. Hang me upside down by my toes and beat me with a rusty winch cable.
Then, on the way to work one morning, air drumming along with my MP3 player plugged into my ears, I heard someone yelling at me.
I turned to my right and spied an air conditioning service truck in the next lane over and a young man practically hanging out the driver’s window waving his hat at me. What did I do, forget to screw on the gas cap again? “Dude!” He shouted and bounced his head up and down, laughing with joy. “That Jeep looks insane, bro! Sweet job!” He was serious and shaking his thumbs-up wildly.
He cracked me up, and I had no choice. I laughed aloud and waved at him, and responded, “Thanks, bro.” I was thanking him for the wake up call really, not for complimenting the ride.