Friday, August 2, 2013

Fandom Friday: Kady gets Stuck on a Truck

It's another edition of Fandom Fridays and you are going to be happy we asked Kady to participate. She is serious about her fandom and we are guessing it's one that you haven't heard of:

I initially had a hard time thinking of a fandom that I wanted to talk about. Most of my fandoms are books (Tom Mackee and the psycho Tara Finke are my OTP, thank you very much) and my other ones tend to be TV shows that aren't available to stream anywhere and I would never tell you to illegally download or watch something, so those are out too. Then it hit me. I could tell you all about my favorite thing ever.

Stuck on a Truck participants in
photo used w permission from here
My favorite thing ever is a contest called Stuck on a Truck that takes place every year at the Toad Suck Daze Festival in Toad Suck, Arkansas. The rules are very simple- 25 people put their hand on a brand new, shiny red Ford F150 and the last person to take his or her hand off gets to keep the truck. There are periodic scheduled breaks for bathroom use, drug testing and food, but for the most part it's just 25 people standing next to a truck. Talk about your man vs. self conflict. Stuck on a Truck doesn't sound very exciting on paper, but trust me, it is. Every March, when the first billboards go up, I get a rush of adrenaline that carries me straight through to the first weekend of May when the contest actually starts. My friends and I all rally around this one event- there are elaborate betting pools, we can recite the bios of return contestants and quickly learn all that we can about new ones. We crowd around computers to watch the choppy live feed and call each other every time there's a new development. This year a group of us live tweeted the entire weekend plus that the competition went on. You can read that feed here, if you're so inclined.

 But to really understand the joy and wonder that is Stuck on a Truck, an endurance sport that makes small children sing and grown men cry, you may need a little background info.

The Setting:

Toad Suck, Arkansas (yup, that's the real name of a town) is a very small town in central Arkansas. The obvious book to point to when talking about life in small town Arkansas is John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back (see our interview with the author here) Toad Suck is in a much more hopping part of Arkansas than Whaley's town of Lily, but the overall feeling, especially of the summer heat, definitely rings true. If you really want to get the flavor of small town life, check out any of Sarah Dessen's books set in Colby. Books like Someone Like You and Keeping the Moon capture the feeling of living in a place where everyone knows your business and you can't decide if you just want to get out or if you want to stay forever.

The Atmosphere:

I love state and town fairs. How do you properly capture the smell of fried everything on a stick? The press of the sticky sweaty hot crowds working their way through the vendor booths to find that perfect souvenir? The sight of kids running away from their parents and teens hanging out with their friends, just a little bit off to the side. The feeling of having the entire world in front of you and just absolutely owning the night? Two words my friends, country music. Sidenote: Did you know you can get amazing CDs from the library? You can! Start with American Saturday Night by Brad Paisley, ease into Alan Jackson's The Greatest Hits Collection and if you're feeling super adventurous Miranda Lambert's Revolution will bring out your fiesty side, which you'll definitely need...
Here's a little Alan Jackson to set the mood.
The Contest: 

Okay, now that you're in the right frame of mind, we can talk about the actual Stuck on a Truck contest. Could there possibly be a book about crowds of people watching a group of competitors face off in an emotionally taxing and physically brutal challenge? The Hunger Games, you say? Yes. Watching Stuck on a Truck makes me feel like a Capitol citizen every single year. Maybe no one gets killed during Stuck on a Truck, but once the hallucinations set in at around hour 64 it's like watching the Tracker Jackers go after your favorite contestants: horrifying and mesmerizing at the same time.

There's also The Long Walk by Stephen King when he was writing as Richard Bachman. In The Long Walk, a group of teenage boys voluntarily (key word: voluntary since Stuck on a Truck is also voluntary and competing in The Hunger Games is obviously not) sign up for a contest where they'll all begin walking across the country at the same time. When a boy's speed drops below 3 miles per hour he gets a warning and the third time he drops below 3 miles per hour he gets killed. The stories of individual contestants including two brothers and a boy searching for his father, spin out as the field dwindles and give you insight as to why anyone would sign up for the walk in the first place.

It may all seem a little dark from my description, but there's something truly magical about Stuck on a Truck and the perseverance of the human spirit. I hope to see all of you in the facebook group and twitter feeds for next year's competition and in the meantime, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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