For those of you who have been sitting around pondering the question “Why do guys in pickup trucks have dogs sitting next to them in the passenger seat?” I am happy to report I have the answer.

The reason is not, as was commonly believed, because dog is man’s best friend, but because the dogs — not the men — give off a macho image which, after all, is what driving a pickup truck is all about.

Most people think that men in trucks are engaged in noble pursuits like chopping down trees, mixing cement or lifting heavy machinery. What they are really doing is 1) driving aimlessly around because they have nothing better to do and 2) stopping off for coffee and schmoozing with other guys in pickup trucks, all of whom have dogs, too.

I recently came across a gaggle of guys at a high-class joint called Joe’s Eats, where the sign in the window read, “Breakfast special. Ham n’ eggs n’ java: $3.50.” I happened to stop at Joe’s Eats not because I was hungry, but because I was engaged in a typical female sport: asking directions — something no guy in a pickup truck would ever be caught dead doing. I had no GPS at the time.

I pulled over to a row of trucks, each with a dog inside, which would have attacked me if not for one of the guys shouting obscenities at them, which immediately turned the ferocious beasts into Jell-O.

“So, little lady, what seems to be the problem?” asked guy No. 1 who weighed close to 300 pounds and could probably lift a small Lexus over his shoulder.

For the record, I am little and I am a lady, but when this big brute said it, it sounded as if I were a totally incompetent member of society, whose only hope of survival rested in his hairy hands.

“I’ve been driving around for a half-hour I said. “It seems I’ve made a wrong turn.”

“Hey guys, the lady’s lost,” he screamed out to his cronies. They gathered en masse.

“Ya’ need directions, honey?” another chimed in.

“That would be helpful,” I said.

“Where ya’ headed?” the third one asked.

That was when the dogs started getting restless. One began flexing his canine muscles. Yes, he actually had muscles just like the guy who was wearing a T-shirt that had “Dirk Does It” written in bold letters on the front, and which, in the middle of December, was a very macho thing to wear considering the temperature was only in the low 40s.

I was so busy trying to figure out exactly what “Dirk Does” that for a moment I forgot why I had stopped off here, but Dirk’s dog jolted me back to reality with a growl that nearly catapulted me out of my shoes.

“I’m looking for Wisteria Road,” I said. That’s when the three guys huddled together in front of their trucks much like football players planning their next move.

“Hey Dirk, ya’ ever hear of Wisteria?” asked one.

“Beats me,” Dirk said, “How about you, Tony? You know Wisteria?”

“Ain’t Wisteria down by the marina?” Tony asked Buster, who was wearing a pair of construction boots that L.L. Bean would have killed to get into their holiday catalogue.

Buster didn’t know from Wisteria. Buster didn’t know from nothin’. All Buster did was grunt, while Dirk and Tony scratched their heads for a while, and then started scratching their butts while they tried figuring out exactly where Wisteria was.

It was then that another guy in a pickup truck pulled up and waved to the guys (guys in pickup trucks always know other guys in pickup trucks). “How’s it goin’ Luke?” they shouted.

“Same old, same old,” Luke said, while his companion, a cross between a pit bull and a lion, stuck his head out the window and, upon seeing me, curled his lip and snarled, which got all the other mutts a little excited.

“Looks like the boys are gettin’ hungry,” Luke said, and that’s when I realized not only do men in pickup trucks have dogs, but they consider these dogs to be their alter-egos — “boys” just like themselves.

So, there I was in the middle of the afternoon shooting the breeze with Dirk, Tony, Buster and Luke when a woman in combat boots came bolting through the door of Joe’s Eats. It was Joe’s mother, affectionately known around these parts as Granny Annie.

Granny Annie obviously held some clout, because the dogs cowered when she appeared. Granny Annie sauntered over to me and asked, “What’s a little lady like you doing the heck out in this neck of the woods?” When I told her I needed directions, she told me in one-minute flat how to get to Wisteria Road, which, as it turned out, was two lefts past her brother-in-law Mitch’s auto body shop.

Then, to show how nice these folks were, I was invited in for ham n’ eggs n’ java, and even though I wasn’t hungry, I joined the gang. I even got to pet “the boys” who were feeling particularly friendly since Granny Annie let them gnaw on ham bones.

As for me, I have a new-found respect for guys in pickup trucks and their dogs. Just the other day I saw a truck on my street that read “Willy’s Leaf Removal.” Except Willy wasn’t removing leaves. Willy wasn’t removing anything. What Willy was doing was hanging with another guy in a pickup truck from “Gus’s Gutter Cleaning.”

“Hi fellas,” I shouted from my car. “How’s it going?’

“How ya doin’ doll?” Willy and Gus shouted back. Their two respective dogs lunged forward ready to strike, but I showed them who was boss. I locked my car door, shut the windows and hot-footed it outta’ there real fast.

I’m a regular one of the guys now. I talk the talk and I walk the walk. Occasionally, I scratch my butt, too. I’m thinking of getting myself a nice little German shepherd to sit in the passenger seat of my Honda. If anyone gives me a hard time, Dirk, Tony, Buster and Luke told me to give them a call. All I need to do is feed them ham n’ eggs n’ java and they’ll come running down to my place in no time flat.

“The boys” can come, too.

Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views monthly in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at joodth@snet.net or at judithmarks-white.com.