Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bull balls, fangs, what’s next?

In “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” the late sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein has a scene in which his human hero is trying to teach a computer about jokes, especially practical jokes. Most practical jokes, he says, are at best a “once funny.” Repeat performances not only lose whatever humor they held, but also tend to make the target a tad irked.

“Once funny” is what I think about fangs on truck grills. They were funny, even several times. As they caught on, they ceased to be funny. At best, they were funny the way that jumping out from behind a door in a dark room is funny – and the intent on the motoring public was very much the same.

Oh sure, a lot of folks thought hanging those fangs on their trucks’ snouts said, “Lookee here, I’m a rough and tough truckin’ dude, the last of the real individualists.” Not so unique, though, seeing as how those tusks became as common as Beatle hairdos did.

Anyway, I digress. The fang thing seems to have run its course; it became so widespread that people quit paying attention to it. But the other day, I saw what could be the start of another trend, although this one will be expensive to mimic and thus, one hopes, less widespread.

I was cruising down the highway when a truck approaching on the other side caught my eye. It was dark, but it was obvious he had a pretty sizable sun shade over his windshield. The marker lights – a double row on each side – were set in about a 30-degree angle, creating a shallow V.

The effect was of glowing, glaring yellow eyebrows over the darkened windshield. Combined with the other lights on the rig, it composed a kind of angry face. My thoughts went like this: “Wow, cool, I’ve never seen that before.” “Wow, that’s like, a face.” “Whoa, that would scare the bygosh out of me if it was coming up behind late at night.”

Within the limits imposed by the DOT, I could easily see a new generation of truck show folks breaking away from the vertical-horizontal orientation of lights to create some really interesting patterns on bright metal and elsewhere. Bob and Shelley Brinker a few years back made a step in this direction with decorative yellow eyes on their “Dragon On” truck. But folks, let’s keep it somewhat upbeat, OK? There are enough Godzillas behind America’s wheels as it is – and I mean all kinds of wheels. Don’t try to tell the motoring public that truckers are monsters.

Follow-up to my post:

A Virginia legislator has the balls to say vehicles shouldn't. Read it here.

The lawmaker says they are not only obscene but also distracting to other drivers, and thus a safety hazard. If his bill becomes law, it would impost a $250 fine for ball baring.