Men only have one thing on the brain...
After almost 18 years of writing about different kinds of vehicles, I have literally driven thousands, in various conditions. From places like Nürburgring race course in Germany, the Namib Desert, and deep water in Moremi to the biting cold of Iceland (there is a reason they don’t call it “Sunland”). Eventually you start to know things about vehicles. Not a lot, but at least a bit more than the average guy who goes to buy cigarettes and bread in his slip-slops. It’s always nice to chat to people who want to know things. But guess what? Sometimes I simply don’t want to talk about cars. The worst is at a braai at someone’s place. Contrary to what many people might believe, I’m interested not only in 4x4s or vehicles. I also like to hunt, I enjoy good wine, cooking, dogs, Seinfeld, good movies, rugby, Formula One, rock music, and most types of cheeses (except gouda, which is basically a yellow-coloured eraser sold as food). I don’t know if it’s the pressure of playing host but sometimes someone will introduce me with “This is Jaco, he drives cars and writes about it!” before turning around and making a beeline for the fridge. And before I can counter with “Uhm, cars are only a part of my job. I also help with the planning of travel stories and with the briefing of our guys going on trips so we feature only the best articles in Drive Out”, most guys get this kind of glint in their eyes. It’s difficult to describe the expression but it’s a mix between excitement, confusion and loathing. Excitement because most guys like cars, confusion because the guy doesn’t know how to start the conversation, and loathing because he thinks I spend my days driving expensive new cars and my nights sipping martinis in exotic hotels and gallivanting around the world. By now I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. Then I feign a smile and quickly change the topic to something like: “So, and what do you do?” But it’s usually too late because the typical answer is something along the lines of: “I work my butt off to pay off my car. Which car do you think is the fastest/ best looking/best value for money?” You really can’t win, can you?
It’s also not long before a guy who’s five or so drinks strong saunters round and asks you: “So, what do you think of the new Haahlaksh?” My natural reaction, which my wife has taught me to mostly suppress, is to answer with something like: “What model Hilux? The 2.8 GD-6 or the 4-litre V6-petrol? The manual or automatic? Or what about the smaller 2.4 GD-6? Or are you interested in its ground clearance? Or do you want to know if it really passed the ‘moose test’ or if Toyota is just paying me a helluva lot of money to lie, even though South African Hiluxes don’t have the same suspension package as that of the Swedish models and so the Swedish results are not applicable to our local models?” But I play it cool and say: “Yeah, it’s really great”, give the guy a thumbs up, and walk to the cooler box. You can see the guy’s eyes light up and you realise he’s already bought the new Hilux and that he actually just wanted confirmation that he made the right decision. Almost like a woman asking her husband: “My butt doesn’t look big in these pants, right?” Shortly after another guy asks you: “So what do you think of the new Navara?” “Jeez my friend,” I’ll answer, “that thing is awesome!” and I’ll give him a high five. Ten minutes later someone else asks what I think of the Ranger and then it’s time for: “Wow, now that is a bakkie and a half!”
And so it continues until everyone is happy because they’ve heard what they wanted to hear. Then I can excuse myself and join the ladies to talk about interesting things. Like the correct way to roast a chicken, and, if you’re lucky, even about whether Malcolm Marx is South Africa’s best choice for hooker. Because unfortunately the cliché is true: Most guys have only one thing on the brain. And that’s a lekker set of wheels.