The Ecphorizer

Bill Harvey

Issue #48 (August 1985)

Fads, my friend, are an extremely interesting phenomenon. Fads come and fads go. Some cause considerable stir, make somebody wealthy, and are never heard from again. Examples of ones that made a splash and vanished are mood rings, the pet rock, and happy faces.

[quoteright]Who would ever have believed that selling rocks in a small box would have made a man a millionaire? Or that people would stick little round yellow stickers to nearly every surface in existence?

Examples of fads that made a big splash and then stuck around are the frisbee and skateboards.

Some people apparently feel that it's necessary to embrace every fad that comes down the pike in order to be socially acceptable. This facet of human behavior is precisely what has caused people in the fashion industry to alternately purchase Rolls-Royce automobiles, and take the gas pipe. Trying to foretell what will grab the fancy of people as opposed to what will be totally ignored is extremely taxing. Ann's favorite color, the one she feels that she looks best in, is green. I've had a particularly rough time finding anything in that color during the past year. Apparently, some Guru of the Girdle has decreed that green is "out" and purple is "in." Ann hates purple.

Most of the things that I've talked about so far are relatively inexpensive. Clothing can, indeed, be expensive, and I've heard of people paying upwards of $300 for a skateboard, but as a rule, fads are cheap. During my recent travels, I've noticed a fad that's NOT cheap, and I can't for the life of me understand the thinking behind this particular fad. Apparently, this thing started out small, and escalated. That's the case with most fads, but this one has not only grown in popularity, it's grown in size.

Okay, okay, I'll get to the point.

The fad of which I speak is small pick-up trucks (mostly) with huge (and I mean HUGE) wheels on them. I say mostly, because I have seen a few cars with this goiter-of-the-tires. One of the cars that I've seen is a nearly perfectly restored '60 Chevy that would be a near collector's item, were it not for the five-foot diameter wheels on the thing. And, the six shock absorbers per wheel.

I've seen these things zipping down the freeway, sounding for all the world like a swarm of angry bees, and on occasion I've seen one parked, and have been able to approach for a closer look. While standing there, with my chin on a level with the running board (I'm 6'2"), it occurred to me why nearly all of them are little pick-ups. Unless you climb directly out of a second floor window into the cabs of these little trucks, you need a ladder to get in and out. What better place to store said ladder than in the back of the pick-up?

I suspect that these things evolved from things like jeeps and four- wheel drive Land Rovers and the such, and I can see where somewhat oversize wheels would be an advantage in covering rough terrain, but some of the examples of this particular motor vehicle that I've seen would have absolutely no trouble driving to Catalina. The tires are large enough to float the thing.

If the trend continues, I can foresee a few complications.

First of all, these things are custom, hand built. That means expensive. An additional expense to be foreseen is the cost of a special (probably Jordache) parachute to be used during emergency exits.

It may well be necessary to mount a jump seat on the hood so that a friend can sit out there and look down to alert the driver as to the color of traffic lights.

It's entirely possible that the FAA will require that drivers of these vehicles alert the nearest control tower when they're in the vicinity of any airport. For two reasons. First, so that they won't be picked up on radar as a UFO, and secondly so that aircraft in the immediate vicinity can avoid them. They'll probably also have to mount strobe lights on the top of the cab, just as  buildings and water towers do now.

How can a man with one of these things expect to get a date with a lady? How do you get her in and out? I have trouble visualizing a lady in her best party dress, squirming feet first out the door of one of these things, and dropping to the pavement below. Perhaps, a fold-up escalator?

The wheelbase of these things will obviously have to get much longer. I've personally seen some of them where the back wheels almost touch the front wheels.

I'm a firm believer in form follows function, and I feel that everything on this earth does, or should, serve some purpose. Even pet rocks brought a smile to many people. There is one of these things that has gained some fame, so much so that it has a name. "Bigfoot." I believe that it's a full size pick-up, and the wheels appear to be about 8 feet in diameter. It appears occasionally in car shows, where it is used to run over other cars. Not much of a purpose in life, but at least it does something. I've not been able to learn of any other use, other than running to the store, for the others. I also don't know what they're called.

I've decided that for my purposes, I'm going to refer to them as "dress- up trucks."

This, solely because Ann told me that they remind her of little girls clomping around in their mothers' high heels. 

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