Dear 4×4 Driver

The great outdoors really was until you came along. Now it’s just the outdoors. The part that made it great ended abruptly when I was sideswiped by your forweeldrarv’s wing mirror on what I had always thought was a hiking trail.

I played with cars when I was a kid. I would spend hours pretending to drive up steep banks, down the rockery, through mud pools and across the sandpit. But then I grew up and discovered that all I really needed was a car to get me from one point to another. Maybe you played with dolls when you were young, because you carry on as if you have just discovered cars. Don’t you think you are a bit old to be showing off your new toy?

When it comes to holidays and weekends, you feel compelled to get higher, deeper and further than anyone else. Being the nature lover that you are, it’s surprising that the notion of hiking never crosses your mind. But why walk when you can drive, right? After all, that’s why you bought an off-road vehicle. So you can smash your way through the bush scaring the animals and stinking up the air with diesel fumes, or wheelspinning through the coastal dunes using endangered lizards for traction.

You feel like a pioneering adventurer as you head off to conquer dangerous, uncharted territory (first left past N1 City). Move over, Mike Horn. The sad truth is that an overweight alcoholic with emphysema could do what you do. All it really takes are hands strong enough to grip the steering wheel and legs long enough to reach the pedals.

Given that all the latest models have air suspension, power steering, adaptive gearboxes, downhill descent control, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, light sensitive headlights, onboard trip computers, climate control and special holders for your sunglasses, you would have to be a blind quadriplegic not to master the coarse art of bundu-bashing.

More often than not, though, your notion of a remote area is the Pick n Pay in the next suburb. Even then, you rely on your dashboard-mounted GPS to get you there.

Your topatha range forweeldrarv hasn’t been off the tar since you bought it. So what are those jerry cans doing on your roof? Are you expecting a major fuel crisis on your way to work? And that spade lashed to the side? Of course. To bury the corpse of anyone who might accidentally scratch your bodywork.

The point of owning a fuel-slurping monstrosity is that once you are in the driver’s seat, everyone has to look up to you. Back on earth, you’re so short that people think you must have escaped from the circus.

Having a forbahfor also allows you to park on pavements, even when there is ample parking off the pavement. This gives you a tremendous thrill because you feel that you are doing something unconventional, if not downright illegal. You devil, you.

When you pull up behind me at a robot, all I can see is a giant chrome bull bar filling my back window. Your bull bar, of course, is cleverly designed to break every bone in my body should you decide that I am taking too long on the pedestrian crossing. At least after that I won’t feel much pain when I get strained through your tennis court-size radiator grill.

Once a year you go to a neighbouring country (Namibia is a firm favourite because the old colony is still pretty safe and everyone speaks Afrikaans) and when you get back you cry around the braai about the poor state of the roads/campsites/facilities and how the natives have got so cheeky and what a pity it is that FW de Klerk caved in and gave the country to the terrorists.

But hey, at least you got a chance to drive up and down Dune 7 and do power slides across the gravel plains outside Swakop. When you leave, you look back at your tracks with pride knowing that they will still be there for hundreds of years to come.

Your favourite local destination is St Lucia in December. There, you are among hundreds of people just like you, all swilling brandy and coke and sneaking off down the beach in your forbahfors to find the best spot in which to get rat-assed and kill fish in large numbers.

Even though tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk was once the leader of your favourite political party, you wouldn’t give him a piece of wors if he crawled into your campsite dying of hunger.

Marthinus is a double-dealing backstabbing two-faced traitor because he refused to overturn the ban on beach driving imposed by that interfering Indian fellow, Valli Moosa, who wouldn’t know his camshaft from his sump.

Anyway, now that South Africa’s beaches are open to all races, it’s no longer safe to drive on them. That’s why you go to Mozambique. Your kind helped Renamo destroy the country’s infrastructure, so it’s no big deal if you ruin their beaches as well.

The day you walked onto the salesroom floor and picked out a shiny new forbahfor (with built-in right-of-way) was the day that you started losing your friends. So you joined a forbahfor club and found a whole lot of new friends who never made snide remarks about your wanton destruction of the environment and hardly ever turned slack-jawed and glassy-eyed when you started raving about your ABS with EBD and two-speed low-range transfer case with centre diff that distributes torque evenly.

At the club, everyone treats you with respect because they know your car has just cost you half a mil. Outside the club, everyone thinks you’re a pretentious urban cowboy with more rands than sense.

Your image is Camel Man but your role model is George W Bush, a man dispossessed of the mental capacity to fully understand the consequences of global warming. You and George see nothing wrong with owning a “recreational” vehicle that will emit over 100 tons of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. You don’t live on a low-lying island so why should you care if the polar ice caps melt?

The main thing is that you feel like a Real Man when you hoist yourself up into the driver’s seat. You feel powerful. Masculine. At times like these, you almost forget that you have an embarrassingly small willy.

Actually, a lot of the time you aren’t even a man. You are a woman in your late thirties with long blonde hair and designer sunglasses who double-parks and then (after touching up your lipstick) sashays into the chemist to pick up your 85-year-old husband’s weekly dose of Viagra. You got him to buy you a BMW X5 because Trixibelle is such a special little doggie that she deserves her very own electronically controlled leather seat.

You are a Stupid Underdeveloped Vulgarian (SUV).

Yours truly,

Ben Trovato

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