Men only have one thing on the brain...

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

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.

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