“We are friends and I do like to pass the day with you in serious and inconsequential chatter. I wouldn’t mind washing up beside you, dusting beside you, reading the back half of the paper while you read the front. We are friends and I would miss you, do miss you and think of you very often.”
– Jeanette Winterson
I was introverted growing up. A loner, even. I didn’t seek the company of others; I didn’t need them to be content. I played soccer and acted in plays, group activities encouraged by my parents, but I was rarely happier than when alone with my Lego. I was quite happy to construct my own world, unsatisfied with the uncertain one around me.
As you can surely gather, I didn’t make friends easily, mainly because I didn’t understand what others were thinking. Others were confusing. At the time, I didn’t understand that my actions and words could impact other people’s emotions. I simply wasn’t born with that intuition. Is it any wonder I was picked on?
I moved schools frequently growing up; always ready to move to greener pastures. Unattached was I to anyone in particular. I just switched schools whenever I wanted to try a new program. I attended schools for French Immersion, the visual and performing arts, self-paced learning, before finally completing my grade school education at a more academic institution replete with kids as intent on post-secondary as I was. I never kept in contact with my friends from previous schools. I just happily moved on.
When I entered University, hopeful of finally meeting intellectual equals, I had only a handful of people I was even moderately close with, but by then I’d gotten better at meeting new people. I’d certainly done it enough. Meeting new people wasn’t that tough, I learned, it just required some persistence. This persistence would be key to befriending one girl in particular. She was a tough nut to crack, but I eventually broke through. This girl would soon become the best friend I ever had. In fact, she’s still my best friend.
Over the next 6 years, this girl would teach me many things, but arguably the most important was how and why my actions and words impact other people’s emotions. It wasn’t easy for me to understand, but she patiently and logically worked me through this complex and baffling facet of the human condition. This invaluable lesson is perhaps the greatest gift she’s ever given me, after her friendship, of course.
Perhaps the third greatest gift she’s given me has been even more friends. And she didn’t just come packaged with just any old friends, she brought me into what is quite easily the single most exceptional collection of human beings ever assembled. Thoughtful, intelligent, loving, modest, generous, and even rather attractive – every single one of them. Never mind that they’re all burgeoning lawyers, dentists, doctors, accountants, PhDs and engineers. That doesn’t even factor in, such is the radiance of their other qualities. And it’s not like there’s only 5 of them either, it’s closer to 25! It’s the size and caliber of social group my younger self would cower from, not feel blessed by. As we Jewish folk say at Passover, had this girl given me just one of these gifts, it would’ve been enough. In Hebrew, the word for this is Dayenu.
If she’d been my friend, Dayenu.
If she’d taught me to better understand people, Dayenu.
If she’d given me more friends, Dayenu.
But I got so much more. Through this one girl and this unbelievable group of friends, I’ve unfurled from my cocoon of introverted independence. With this emergence, I’ve also been granted the opportunity to share experiences I could’ve never imagined before.
One such experience was two weekends ago with the Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew.
There were eight of us in all (or about four times as many friends as I had in elementary school). Half of us in the 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, half in my friend’s Escape. Our destination: Banff for one last day of skiing.
As a highway cruiser to and from the Rockies, the Raptor was more than adequate, and that’s putting it mildly. The thumpin’ Sony sound system entertained us endlessly, the 411hp 6.2L ensured easy passing and good time, the BF Goodrich All-Terrain TA/KO 315/70-17 tires didn’t howl excessively, and only the firm off-road seats prevented a perfectly seamless journey. The observed highway mileage was 17L/100km overall, but I observed closer to 20 on the (uphill) way there and 13 on the (downhill) way home. As with the GMC Sierra I took to Banff a couple of months back, there was clearly a marked difference in fuel economy between the two trips, something I’ve never really noticed in all the times I’d driven to Banff in my own cars. Maybe it’s a truck thing?
Regardless, it was a weekend to remember. Not only because the 11.2″ front and 13.4″ rear suspension travel meant that we could drive and park anywhere we pleased, but also because the ski conditions, on account of this season’s record snowfall, were obscenely good. Despite temperatures well above zero, there wasn’t a tree root, rock, or icy patch to be found. Nothing but slushy fresh snow and a cloudless Spring sky. It was easily the second best ski day of my life and it was an absolute joy to spend it with such a wonderful group of friends. I had such an incredible time that I almost felt bad about it. As is so often the case when spending time with any or all of this crew, I found myself shaking my head in utter disbelief at my good fortune. Cruising around in the Raptor really didn’t help this.
Strangely, and this might be hard to believe, I occasionally found myself feeling a bit embarrassed in the mighty Raptor. How can this be? It’s so awesome, n’est pas? Exactly! It’s sometimes TOO awesome. For someone as young as myself, the swashbuckling Raptor can, at times, be simply too badass. There were occasions when I felt oh so cool jumping off the slatted fixed sidesteps, and other times when I felt the need to slouch away from it all sheepishly. It’s a lot of truck, and in Alberta, it screams of the type of success that we all know I didn’t deserve (unless you consider writing hundreds of thousands of words on a blog “deserving”). But no matter how I felt, sheepish or confident, the Raptor looked just plain sexy toodling around the mountain town. Nothing else came close. Not even a 997 Turbo on winters.
The Raptor is a joy. It feels proud, looks phenomenal, and it brought a smile to our faces every time we went for a ride. And isn’t that the point? I see enough Raptors around Edmonton to know that they’re rarely used for the type of high-speed off-roading they were built to endure. A $68,722 truck doesn’t have to make sense, but it does have to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and at least as fun as Lego is for an introvert. The Raptor is all of that and more.
Like the wonderful people I now call my friends, I’ll miss the Raptor, and think of it very often.
And that’s the Philosophy of Driving for this week, see you next Tuesday!
Disclaimer: Ford Canada provided the vehicle, insurance, and 110L of gas to make this review possible. For that, I thank them.
[Photo credits: author]