Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I Might Be A Redneck

Okay, so here's the weekend report I've been promising since the weekend itself. You do realize that I don't expect anyone to be sitting around waiting for me, right? The very thought that I might have any "readers" at all makes me laugh. That said, I do appreciate those of you who return again and again...you are precious in my eyes. :-)

Anyhoo. I've got a post to write. Here goes...

I'm inclined to start at the end of the race, such as it was. Wow! What a finish! I've never seen anything like it. Gas? Who needs it? This race was won on fumes...no, it was actually won by coasting the last half lap. The fumes were gone, the engines vapor locked. 2nd place went to the next car to coast in 17 seconds later. 3rd? Same.

Jimmie Johnson ("our" favorite...I'm just following my husband's lead on this), who had been steadily increasing his lead for nearly 60 laps without a caution flag, knew he would run out of gas if he didn't make a pit stop. He stopped for a splash of fuel with 5 laps left to go and...ahem, got a speeding ticket on pit row (it's NASCAR, people...speeding happens...are you kidding me?!). And then, he too ran out of gas on the last lap. The penalty resulted in a 14th place finish after all of his hard work and narrow misses. Good grief! This was a huge disappointment for my husband who so badly wanted to see Jimmie win. Jimmie was driving so much better than anybody else on the track all day, plus he's a good guy (unlike the ultimate winner, the hot-headed Tony Stewart). There was mass confusion at the end of the race. Nobody (except those with track scanners) knew what was going on or who won the race. There was no gas left for the customary burning rubber spin around the track. The winner had to be pushed into the winner's circle. The whole thing was about as anti-climatic as it gets. The weird part about all of this to me was that others in the crowd didn't seem nearly as visibly disturbed by it all as I was. I was flabbergasted that a race of this magnitude could end with all of the top contenders coasting across the finish line. It all came down to pit stop strategy. Pfftt. Apparently, this is not uncommon? I don't know. Maybe it's not even about the race. More on that in a minute.

In the beginning, it was exciting.

It started with a fly-by of 3 F-18 Hornets. Am I the only one who immediately gets tears in my eyes when these incredible planes fly by? Really. I don't know what it is, but it's very emotional for me. And then there was the invocation, in Jesus' name no less, before a 100,000 or so people. Nice. And then, I will admit to getting sucked into the thrill of the battle cry, "GENTLEMEN! START. YOUR. ENGINES!" And then the incredible roar of the engines, as the green flag was dropped. But really, after that, there was one caution flag after another and it seemed like we would never see lap #267. Jimmie was having a difficult time making any progress with all of the "bunching" (a term I learned from Jen; bunching ruins The Amazing Race, imho). Essentially, the field was levelled every other lap. This went on for about the first 100 or so laps. Bunching ruins NASCAR. None of the crashes were spectacular, just irritating. It was at this point where I wondered how many days it would take to finish the race. It was at this point that I thought about getting out my book. But I didn't. I played along. I was a good sport, I think. I didn't cry when I went to sit down and my seat was up, sending me to the ground (we had to stand up every time a caution lap ended, to watch the race start over again...there was more standing up and sitting down than at a Catholic mass). I didn't cry when I climbed over the seats to get back to my own without stepping on people and the seat flipped up causing a severe toe injury (in case you are wondering, one should not wear Birkenstocks to a NASCAR race either). I didn't cry when the temperatures rose to record October highs, causing near heat stroke when combined with the concrete bowl effect. I did not even cry about Jimmie losing, although I wanted to for my husband's sake...poor guy.

So, if it's not about the race, then what? I believe it's all about the marketing. Let me just say...what a racket! I have never seen such an unapologetic, aggressive marketing racket in my life. It starts on the way in, bumper to bumper traffic and tailgaters flying flags as far as the eye can see. It's like a festival of numbers, each driver a spokesman for a Fortune 500 company and identified by his number. There is no end to the flags and tents and people. Before entering the stadium, we were accosted by vendors hawking t-shirts, hats, trinkets and wampum.

Shameless Plug for Jimmie

Once inside, we were faced with a choice of dying of heat stroke or paying $3.00 per bottle for water. We spent $27 on water alone (you can't bring in your own). The highlight of the day was the Fried Bologna sandwich...mmm...but combine sodium laced bologna with 90 degree heat and my ankles were pretty swollen by the end of the day. I heard, but have not verified, that the concessions (including product sales) bring in more money than the ticket sales. I don't doubt that. I am now the proud owner of a pink camouflage Jimmie Johnson hat, #48. I could have bought the exact same hat with the #38 on it instead, for $20 less. I must be a Redneck. ;-)

After the race, we took our hosts out to dinner to thank them for inviting us. When we got home, we were exhausted from the heat and the sunburns and went straight to bed.


Where was I?

Oh yes, this honkytonk bar on Saturday night, to see The Original Low Riders, a derivative of this band. I will admit that I didn't know what I was going to hear, but as soon as I heard them play, I recognized many of their songs (Cisco Kid, the Low Rider song...think Cheech and Chong) and enjoyed them a lot. I enjoyed the place nearly as much as the music. The Knucklehead Saloon defines "funky kitsch." It is a dive bar to beat all dive bars, located practically on the train tracks in one of the worst parts of town and it is built out of found parts (travel trailers, garage doors, outhouses, corrugated sheet metal, asbestos tiles, old cabooses, etc.) It is populated by a most eclectic mix of people, running the gamut from local residents who meander around the perimeter not wanting to pay to get in, to the governor of Kansas, to the rich white ladies of Johnson County, KS who normally wouldn't be caught dead on the Missouri side of the state line, especially in a place like this. But the place comes alive at night and the music keeps everyone coming back for more. The best part is that the trains run by about every 15-20 minutes and blow their horns mid-song. There was something very surreal about the whole experience (and I was stone cold sober ;-).

Which leads me to the last part of my post, which was the first part of my weekend. Getting high. And I mean, really high. Eight stories high. On scaffolding. Here's a picture.

Yet Another Flattering Self-Portrait

Look at the reflection in the window and you can see a nearby 4-story building below us. At first, I agreed to help my husband because he gave his employee the day off and really needed to finish just "one small part." He said all he needed from me was an extra set of hands. Little did I know that the extra set of hands needed to join him on the scaffold in order to push the button that makes it go up and down. Without me, he would have had to push one side, then walk down the plank and push the button on other side...needless to say, this increases the risk factor of working on scaffolding considerably. We arrived on site and I looked up at the dangling scaffold (which rocked side to side like a small boat on the ocean...it was anything but stable).

Impending Doom

I followed MBH up to the roof where he checked all of the cables and clamps to ensure our safety and then went back down to the ground. Once on the scaffold, every body twitch resulted in movement of the plank on which we were standing. I grabbed the railing for dear life, anchored myself with that hook you see (the image that keeps coming back is of me dangling from that there hook in the event the cables fail) and pushed the button to begin our ascent. I did not look back and I did not look down. I just held on for dear life and pushed the button in concert with my husband, trying not to get out of sink causing a severe list to one side or the other. Once we arrived at the top story, I got to work painting and took my mind off of the fact that we were just minutes away from becoming easy prey for the evening news, dangling in mid-air by those hooks, waiting for the fire department to arrive. In the end, we managed to paint eight stories worth of window frames and my husband was very pleased with my work. He said I'm ready to become a righteous painter. Maybe now I can give up my accounting gig. ;-)

And while all of the above was going on, two tons of work sat in my briefcase at home and not a lick of it got done. We have another big deadline fast approaching on 10/15 and I am ill prepared to take it on.

But that's the weekend wrap-up, finally. Any questions?

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At 5:34 AM, October 04, 2006, Blogger Rach said...

No questions but there is no way you'd catch me up there hehe!

At 7:14 AM, October 04, 2006, Blogger beth said...

1) You have at least one dedicated reader who hopes for something new, oh, hourly? :) (Yes, I need something productive to do with myself at work, why do you ask?)

2) Holy cow! Totally with Rach on never, no way no how, going up on scaffolding. You're a very brave and wonderful wife.

3) Does YBH now get to help you with all that tax work? ;)

4) NASCAR? NASCAR???? Surely you know the only real car racing is formula...surely you know this, right?

At 6:05 PM, October 04, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

Well, I enjoyed your stories immensely; they were worth waiting for.

Now, let me see if I've got the math straight:

1) #48 - #38 = $20
2) Thus, $2.00 per 1 number increment
3) Thus, you paid -- um, carry the one -- $96 for a pink JJ gimme cap?
4) Cool.
5) Or am I extrapolating inappropriately? I've been known to do that.

OK, at least with Birkenstocks, swollen ankles aren't the same problem they'd have been had you been wearing ropers, right?

I notice that you didn't wear your pink JJ hat to go paint. Is that a union rule or something? ;-)

At 10:38 PM, October 04, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Rach, as long as I didn't look down, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. Seriously. I've always had this nervous twitch, really. ;-)

Beth, I'm sorry to disappoint you on the hourly updates. I think we both need different jobs, but different reasons, both equally frustrating.

And sadly, I did not even know what "formula car" racing was without Googling, but now that I see them, I know that these are the cars that all the "stock car" folks sneer at. Why is that?

Eric, you're good, but I'm not that certified. I'd never spend $96 on a cap. If I told you that I could have bought 5 38s for the price of 1 48, and 48 cost $20 more than 38, how much does 48 cost? And how much wood does a woodchuck chuck? ;-)

At 10:52 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my question is what the heck do you think you are doing up there on that scaffolding. you are just asking for it, there missy...ok all done.

At 12:15 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Susie, you know you're just jealous. ;-)

Oh, and Eric, about the swollen ankles and ropers...I think my problems would have been different had I worn ropers with my capri pants. I probably would have been locked up in solitary by the fashion police, but without the fried bologna sandwich, and without the hot sun. Almost makes me want to buy a pair of ropers just to try out the look. Maybe Rach would like to model for us the ropers-with-capris look. ;-)


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