Something that just hit my head .. comments yay or nay appreciated. Maybe I'd submit it somewhere with a little work. If Trucks were Boots ... A Thank you to Mom and Dad I had a good weekend.. Sitting around thinking about it made me think about how I got where I was and how many thank you’s I owed to how many people for getting me to where I am. I thought I’d start off by saying I’m not your typical western boot-wearing truck-driving person, but after a few moments thoughts I realized that maybe that’s just a stereotype. I’m not quite thirty, have a Ph.D., drive a lifted ’72 Blazer and wear cowboy boots. More than that, I’m happy to be who I am. I was born in Alberta, grew up in the suburbs and I live in Missouri now, working in a Biochemistry lab. If you had told me in high school how I’d turn out, I would have thought you were off your rocker, but I don’t think I’d change it if I could. I always thought I’d be a writer as a child. If you want to read about the importance of arginine to conifer germination, I can point you to some of my work, but I don’t think that was what I had in mind when I was thirteen. I am what I am because of a thousand little things that happened. I started wearing boots after I put my motorcycle on its side and tore up my knee and ankle. The (rather large) scar is still there. My first pair were my Dad’s old boots that were covered in dust and sorely in need of polish. I put six or eight pairs of new soles on those boots and they’re still in my closet. Somewhere along the line I learned to put Vibram soles on my everyday boots, but that took a while. One of those learning experiences I guess. The first time I remember working on cars was when I stayed home ‘sick’ from school and helped Dad put a new camshaft in a ’76 Nova. I remember that it was a 350 that had been swapped in and that the natural gas heater in the garage was set just a little too high for my liking, but it felt good after walking from the house in the sub-zero Alberta winter. That Nova was the first car that was ‘mine’. I wish I still had it in the closet like the old pair of boots. What got me thinking was a trip to buy a new pair of boots. I drove towards Kansas City with a student in the lab because she knew of a place off the interstate that she wanted to visit. That store was bigger than a lot of barns and I came home with a new pair of boots. Thanks Ashley. It was a fantastic day and driving the Blazer with the top down just set it off. After I got home I looked at the boots I had accumulated and started to laugh. How did a kid that grew up in the suburbs in Canada end up in the middle of Missouri driving 80 miles for a new pair of boots? I wish I could keep my old trucks like I kept all the boots. I looked through them and realized there were not two pair from the same maker. I have Zecuda and Boulet, Justin and Tony Lama, Texas, and a pair that I just can’t remember. Some of them haven’t been worn in a while. Some just get put on to go camping or change the oil and some have been worn every day for more than a year on end. I wish I could have kept those trucks like I kept the boots. I love my ’72 Blazer. Driving with the top down can just make my day. Of course, I had to sell the motorcycle to get it. Mom was happy to float me a loan to buy the Blazer on the condition that I sold the motorcycle (which she hated). I think I ended up on the better side of that deal. Thanks Mom. But what I was thinking was I wish I still had some of those vehicles. The 1984 Chevy S10 4x4 extended cab was great for driving 40 minutes (or more in the winter) to the University every day. Put a set of winter tires on there and I was Superman. It was one of the many ‘winter cars’ that I bought in the fall and sold in the spring, more often than not for more than I paid for them. Of course I couldn’t have done that if Mom and Dad didn’t have the policy that, “You take care of the grades, we’ll take care of the tuition”, even with working construction all summer. Thanks Mom and Dad. By graduate school I could take care of the tuition, had the Blazer and still needed a winter truck. I learned the hard way that mud tires and icy Alberta streets don’t mix. I picked up a rusty, ugly, orange ’84 Chev ½ ton 4x4 that I bought from a friend. That truck was ugly as sin, but never once let me down, even at –40 (F or C, you pick). That was a great truck. Thanks Kurt. Even the ’87 2wd shortbox, regular cab S10 I owned was a great little commuter. I bought it with a sticky lifter, ready to do an engine rebuild. Turned out that the previous owner had installed an exhaust manifold bolt that was too long and rubbed the lifter on the little 4 cylinder, so I got it for a steal. A couple afternoons in the fall in Mom and Dad’s garage and it ran like a champ. I wish I had that one sitting out on the back forty too. Before you start categorizing me, let me say that I owned more than just trucks and more than just Chevys. I had an old Ford Fairmont that was an ex-undercover car for the local police force, an Olds Firenza station wagon that I traded with my uncle for. I got a car that needed a starter and he got a back seat for a 66-77 Ford Bronco that I went searching for. I had a ’79 Malibu that was greener than green and an ’81 Citation that I delivered pizza in and a few more that I can’t recall. I pulled the engine in my brother’s ’84 Celica more times than I can count. Scott, if you’re reading this, I still think there are some 12 and 14mm sockets missing from my toolbox. It’s OK. They’re yours now. I had a ton of fun working on that car. Thanks Scott. Somewhere in there I developed an affinity for trucks and boots, got a couple of degrees, played some hockey, did some ski racing, stopped listening to Jane’s addiction, Ministry and the Chilli Peppers (the old stuff of course) and started tuning in the country station, got a tattoo and moved farther away from home and the Rockies than I thought I ever would. I still remember something my sister, Jenn, told me one day. She had been working in an office and mentioned to the girls that her older brother was a geneticist and was working towards his Ph.D. in Plant Biology. I was living with my sister and her husband at the time before I moved to the States. Thanks Jenn, for that and a thousand other things. I got back to the house one night when one of the ladies from the office was over, she told Jenn, out of my earshot that, " That's NOT what I pictured your brother like”. When Jenn told me it was funnier than hell to me and I wondered, “What am I supposed to look like?” So here I am, 28 and wondering how I got there. It was lessons that were hard to learn and those that I didn’t even know I was learning at the time. There are people that need thanking for things that don’t need to be shared, but if you read this, you know who you are. Hard or easy, it made me who I am and you deserve some of the credit (or, depending on your point of view, the blame, I suppose). So back to boots and trucks. Yes I wish that I still had all those old trucks, getting dusty, ready for whenever I wanted to pull them out and reminisce. But at the same time, I wish I could pick up a parts catalog and get the new sheetmetal .. or leather, for Dad’s old boots. They can still shine, even under the dust, but the abuse they took before I knew any better means that they’re probably beyond repairing to the point where I could wear them again. But still worth keeping. At least to me. I guess that’s life I suppose. Tom Hanks said as Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. Maybe that screenwriter was right. I’ve had my share of the caramels that I love and the nasty orange crème chocolates I could do without. But when I open the chocolate box now I use the map to find the ones that I like. I think I’d rather just guess at what the next 28 years hold. Maybe one day I’ll have that perfectly restored ’72 Blazer and I’ll step out of it wearing those $750 boots made from the tail of a Nile Crocodile that I drooled over at the store. Right now though, I’d settle for that blue ’76 Nova with the plaid seats, wherever it is, and the name of a guy within driving distance who can restore Dad’s old boots. Oh yeah, in case I didn’t make it clear enough … Thanks Mom and Dad.