Can you be a man without a tow hitch?

PHOTO: Tony Webster, Flickr CC
Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

I know what you’re thinking. You see my picture here and you’re saying there’s the very image of a man’s man. A paragon of virility and masculine strength. Hey, guilty as charged. But I’ve got a confession to make.

I am one of a surprisingly large number of Minnesota men who carry a shameful secret they never speak of. Something so mortifying that most of us won’t even admit it to our closest friends. But to make life better for others, to speak truth to an issue that affects tens of thousands of rural men every year, I am willing to reveal this indignity. Here it is.

I don’t have a tow hitch.

That’s right. If you look under the bumper on my vehicle there’s just … nothing there. Just air. 

Now you might be saying, hey, so you don’t have a two-inch receiver hitch. So you can’t tow a camper. But you can at least hook up a small trailer with your inch-and-a-quarter hitch, right?

Let me stop you right there. I don’t even have an inch-and-a-quarter hitch. No hitch. At all.

To repeat, not having a tow hitch means I can’t pull anything. I can’t pull a trailer, a camper or even attach one of those little bike racks.

So, if I want to bring in my lawnmower for service I have to (sigh) ask my father-in-law to use his pickup truck. If I go to a garage sale and decide buy a dresser, I have to fold the seats down on my minivan to take it home. If I need lumber I have to pay the store $50 to deliver it to my house.

That’s $50 I could have spent on even more lumber.

Now, I don’t normally buy lumber. One-hundred percent of the lumber I’ve bought in the last five years has been for middle school science projects. But in Northern Minnesota an explanation like that sounds the same as a bad case of tinnitus.

(Buzzing sound) What? WHAT? But what if you need lumber? For a deck? Or a shed?

I don’t have a tow hitch. 

That means we have to get several more items out of the way.

How do I haul my snowmobiles? I don’t have snowmobiles.

How do I move my ice house? I don’t have an ice house. Not even a portable. I do own a plastic bucket that fits in the back of the Toyota. But, to be clear, I’ve neither sat on it to catch fish, nor have I placed fish inside it.

What do I do when I want to use an entire flat bed trailer to haul one bin of trash to the dump? Well, I don’t do that.

This brings us to the final question. Aaron, you could just pay $300 and you’d have a receiver tube and ball hitch suitable for all of the uses described so far.

Yes, that’s true. But that’s not what a tow hitch really costs. You get the hitch, then you have to get a trailer. You get the trailer you need the registration. Might as well get a side-by-side to go on that trailer. More registration fees. Oh, and now you need a ramp.

By this time you realize that the trailer you bought is just too small. So you need a bigger trailer. But you can’t pull a trailer like that with an SUV. So you’ve got to get a truck. Then you can think about a camper. A big one if you want to take the whole family.

I’ve seen this happen before with others. Once I saw the whole thing end with a Mack Truck pulling a fifth wheel that cost more than my first house.

No, $300 can go to a lot of other worthy causes. Shoes for the children. Side salads. Haircuts. Milk. Those are not exciting purchases, but they are sensible.

My name is Aaron Brown. I don’t have a tow hitch. And that’s OK.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, May 12, 2019 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune and is based on a monologue performed in an April 13, 2019 broadcast of the Great Northern Radio Show.


  1. Scott S Dahlquist says

    It’s all right I have a tow hitch but I don’t own an air compressor.

  2. Veda H Zuponcic says

    Very cute! My parents were born and raised in Aurora. No guns, no car for years, no boat– ever, no shack on the lake. But, a Steinway B piano. What can I say? Takes all kinds.

  3. what do you put in your bucket? i had a good bucket. lost it to fire. really miss that bucket. hard to replace a good bucket.

  4. I haul everything in my minivan. Lumber, trees, straw bales, lawn mowers, and even farm animals (including my kids).

  5. It’s a LOT cheaper to rent a truck for the weekend…and rent the camper…

    I also do not own a tow hitch. Turns out I can fit my snowblower and/or lawnmower in the SUV with the 3rd row folded down. I guess the only thing that makes it an SUV is the roof rack rails and the AWD (don’t get me started), but otherwise I prefer to call it the “lift-kit mini-van”.

    This is a worthy discussion Aaron, the Minnesota “Going Up North” lifestyle certainly can prevent many a upper-middle class family from reaching the upper-class through needless vehicle costs. I do enjoy your thought experiments.

  6. Jennifer Erickson says

    My question is: how do you own a Toyota in Northern MN?

  7. David Kannas says

    No tow hitch? The horror. I didn’t take a tow hitch seriously until my wife and I traded our motor home for a small travel trailer. That required that we buy a tow vehicle to pull it. The tow vehicle required a hitch to pull the trailer. It also needed a brake controller. Then there were the side mirror extensions. The list goes on. Would I have been less a manly man had I not bought the trailer that required the hitch? I ponder that question now that you brought it up.

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