This month I am celebrating my truck's Sweet 16. The Toyota Tacoma PreRunner that I bought all those years ago was my first brand-spanking new automobile. Over the years, I had a Chevy Chevette (many asking "what is that?"), a Plymouth Valiant (again with a "what?"), a Chevy pick-up truck, a Ford pick-up, a Chevy El Camino ("what?"), a Ford pick-up, a GMC S-15 pick-up ("what?"), a Ford Ranger pick-up ("what?"), and finally, the fuel-injected love of my life. See, I kissed a lot of frogs.
The first evening I drove the truck off the dealership lot, I visited one of my close friends to show off my new baby. When I arrived at his house, he said "I have something for you." He handed me a Beanie Baby. Blast from the past, right? This small stuffed animal was a white floppy dog with big black ears and a big black nose. My friend told me, "His name is Earl. Keep him on your visor, and you'll never have an accident." I laughed partly because my Dad's middle name is Earl, and also because the idea seemed silly. But I did it nonetheless.
And if I'm anything, I'm a believer. I believe in Astrology. I believe in God and Jesus. I believe in the teaching of Buddha. I believe in things like serendipity and telepathy. And I'm a believer in Earl. I've driven my truck for 15 years now. It looks like new, thanks to covered parking at work and at home. And thanks to Earl, who has kept me between the lines, has prevented scratches and dings from the body of the truck, and has kept me company on long drives from my home in Houston back to my hometown in Louisiana. He has listened to me sing off-key on long commutes home in the evening. He has watched over me on the freeways with all the bronc-busting drivers on the Texas freeways. So I say a prayer of thanks tonight for St. Earl: my buddy, my protector, my truck's best friend.