Thursday, July 30, 2015

#TBT – Ode to Rufus Sideswipe

(Editor’s note: It’s “Throwback Thursday” and we’re digging into the Land Line digital archive to bring you a 2009 column from Editor-in-Chief Sandi Soendker. Since its inception, our blog has been not only the spot for hard-hitting analysis and opining, but also a place where we have a little fun, like this exchange between columnists Dave Sweetman and Bill Hudgins’ fictional alter ego, Rufus Sideswipe.)

Truck writers are a nutty bunch. I got an email today from Rufus Sideswipe, the gearjammin’ imaginary pal of Land Line columnist Bill Hudgins. This email was a copy of a note sent to another Land Line columnist, Dave Sweetman.
Illustration by Mo Paul

Rufus, it seems, read Sweetman’s column in the October 2009 Land Line and liked it a lot. If you haven’t read it, it’s called “Blue Highways,” and I agree it’s one of Sweetman’s best. Good enough to bring a fictional character like Rufus “to life,” I guess.

Allow me to share this exchange. The fictional Rufus writes to Dave:

That was one fine journey back down the backroads in Land Line. That other writer fella, Bill Hudgins, what quotes me all the time – he says he read “Blue Highways” and “Travels With Charley” and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and did some roaming, too. But then he got sidetracked and stuck in one place with that Wilma of his. Thanks for the trip! – RS

Now considering that Bill wrote this in the guise of Rufus, I really like the “Wilma” touch – seeing as how Bill’s wife is WILDA, not Wilma.

In fact, I couldn’t resist shooting off a totally fictitious note to Rufus myself, claiming to have run into Hudge back before we were truck editors. I said I thought I saw him once, standing on the corner in Winslow, Ariz.

I copied Sweetman, who was quick with a reply to Rufus, copying me back, of course.

Awww, shucks! To get a word or three of kind encouragement from the well-traveled Rufus, is plum flatterin’ alright. Guess that means I have nine readers now, including my dear old Mom.

And I always did like that Hudge feller’s writing. Met him a time or two, but not in Winslow, or Show Low or Tupelo. We talked once about sharing a couple pulls on some Lem Motlow, till we found out it costs more than the GNP of BearWhizBeckistan. When the subject of who was buying came about, the subject pert near changed fast as greased lightnin’. A bottle of grape Nehi was affordable and had the same effect.

Again, many thanks for the kind words and for being a Land Line reader.

That Dave feller

This Rufus Sideswipe stuff is all in fun, of course. Hudge says he invented the character years ago. Did you know that many readers actually DO think he is real?

OOIDA Member Bob “Cowpoke” Martin of Lafayette, Ind., is one guy who doesn’t buy it, though. In fact, Hudgins’ literary leaping back and forth in and out of the Rufus character once prompted CP to e-mail me with the question “does Land Line have a random drug testing policy in place?”