Are You a Real Man?
"What's this?" I asked when Andrew handed me a page he'd ripped out of a magazine.
"Just read it."
There was an ad featuring a quote from Henry David Thoreau in the headline: "'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined,'" I read aloud, then handed it back. "That's cool," I continued, pausing to choose my next words carefully. "So, um, you're into poetry now? Gosh, that'sjust great." I was already fearing the moment we'd run into a Four Wheeler reader and I'd be asked how manning-up Andrew was going as he walked alongside me sporting a pipe and cardigan with elbow patches, saying things like, "The Jeep-a thing of beauty is a joy forever."
"No," he replied. "I just thought it was maybe what Real Men do, follow their dreams. I think maybe I've lost sight of mine."
You see, there are aspects of his life that aren't exactly where he thought they'd be at this point, and he's been struggling over whether he should figure out how to get them back on track or simply let them go. Part of how he's doing that is by meeting and learning from Real Men, such as Ivan Stewart and the soldiers in the U.S. Army in our previous installments of "Are You a Real Man?" The goal is to help Andrew become a better man and live a better life based on the examples of how other Real Men live theirs.
You control the clutch, do not let the clutch control you. Both hands on the wheel unless you're actually switching gears.
But how exactly do we lose track of our dreams if they're that important to begin with? And does living life, with all its challenges, like just trying to pay the bills, sometimes make it necessary to let them go? I've joked about having a drawer full of my hopes and dreams, but is that because being in a drawer means they will never escape my grip, or because I don't need a reminder of what never will be?
It was either botulism or Thoreau that got Andrew and me trying to remember the age at which we'd first start dreaming, and whether that ended up shaping who we are today. I loved reading and writing as a kid, and would hole up for hours in my room tearing through book after book and writing story after story as my imagination ran wild, all the while my mom screaming for me to go outside and get some sun. Andrew was a voracious reader too, who also dreamed about what his life could be through other people's words. He ended up writing a short story in grammar school that he refers to now as "the first time I was published," since it appeared in a classroom-based book with other students' stories. Now we're both writers. And still pasty.
True, that means we're both living out a dream, but what about our other dreams? I mean, can you even get a dream back on track? And while we're at it, do you eventually become too old to dream?
I was in need of Botox or Botox Cosmetic from all the wrinkles these thoughts were causing.
We got to talking with Cappa about this subject, too. When they were really young, Andrew and Cappa would spend hours watching heavy equipment on job sites. They dreamed about what it would be like to drive something like that. An 18-wheeler, a dump truck, a bulldozer-the grown-ups who drove and operated those types of trucks were truly the coolest people ever, because they got to command big vehicles that were capable of doing all sorts of neat things, and these were the biggest vehicles in the world, as far as those young eyes were concerned.
And when Andrew was around 6 years old, he and his buddy Dent would play with Dent's 18-wheeler toy in the sandbox. One day he'd borrowed it, but then Dent moved to a different school and the two lost touch. Years later, the toy was discovered in a box that Andrew's parents were unpacking. Because he knew Dent had loved that truck as much as he did, Andrew took it to his house to return it. In fact, Andrew's mom told me he was so obsessed with toy trucks as a lad that his grandparents quickly realized the only way to spend quality time with their grandson was to crawl around on the floor with him as he played.
It was starting to make sense for this edition of Real Man to be about Andrew rediscovering that early dream of driving something big like a bulldozer or 18-wheeler. I mean, this is Four Wheeler and we're all about driving things, right? Plus it was something that spoke to him as a child. He's also told me that as an adult, he's often had to create his own paths. Maybe a bulldozer would make that a little easier.
If anyone was in full support of this idea, it was Cappa.
Cappa: "Come on, Andrew, you drive a Prius now. You've gotta get something on the other end of the spectrum."
Andrew: "Hey, if you can drive a Prius, you can drive anything."
Cappa: "Oh, really?"
In the blink of an eye, Andrew and I were standing in the dead center of five acres of dirt and mud, with the other end of the spectrum on either side of us: an excavator and a bulldozer.
We were in Las Vegas, home of Dig This (www.digthisvegas.com), which is billed as a "heavy-duty playground." During a 90-minute session, you can fulfill your dream of operating heavy equipment.
"I used to be a fencing contractor, and there was a lot of bulldozer work, because we used to clear roadways from forests and so on. Every now and then, and as a kid I did this too, I would stop and look at people operating heavy equipment; there was always a desire to operate," explained Ed Mumm, president of Dig This. "It wasn't until I built a house that I realized 'This is pretty cool,' because I was in an excavator and I had never operated an excavator before. After two hours of being on that machine I said, 'Wow! If I'm having this much fun, imagine all the people who don't get to do this.'"
It's interesting how people will pay to do for fun what others do daily as a way to make a hard living. It's also interesting that no one wants to pay to be a writer for 90 minutes.
Andrew's Dig This instructor was Travis Heeringa, who started him off in the excavator, the tool for "digging," even though he's been chomping at the bit since he was pint size to get inside a bulldozer, the one for "pushing." Travis first walked him through how to use the controls, then from a distance and via headset instructed him on not only the process of digging and filling a hole, but also through certain challenges, such as lifting,
transporting, and restacking three mondo tires. After successfully doing each task-including a slam dunk in a basketball-style game-Andrew then switched over to the long-lusted-after bulldozer, called a "finishing" dozer, which is used mainly for grooming; he spent time making a dirt pile that he then drove up and over, both forward and in reverse.