Friday, March 23, 2012


Vicky and I embraced our inner redneck (rednecks?) and went to watch qualifying at the Auto Club Speedway for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. It is still bizarre to many people – least of which is myself – that I’ve embraced (and then some) Vicky’s love of NASCAR. But I have and so Vicky wasn’t exactly twisting my arm to get me out there.

We made it to the track in time and hustled up to the stands… and hustled up the stands… and up the stands… and up… and up…

By the time we reached our seats, I could touch Mars. We were high up.

Having been there before – yes, I’ve been to a hoe-down or two – I knew what to expect. I had my ear-plugs against the engine noise. I was familiar with how the cars would be scored, what to look for, and about how fast they should run. But… the vertigo and nausea were entirely new to me. I realized it right away, as I looked straight down at the cars, far out into the distance to follow them, and them closer to read the signs… and it was all making me sick.

Once upon a time, I would have shut it down and said, “That’s it. I don’t like this. Let’s go.” But I knew how much Vicky had been looking forward to this and I didn’t want to disappoint her. Anyway, qualifying would take only a couple of hours… of vertigo and nausea…

Fortunately, I made it. I watched my favorite driver (Juan Pablo) qualify fairly well – not great – and enjoyed the efforts that came in faster than him. We left through the sea of fat, white people smoking way too much – so, there are some parts of NASCAR I’m still not used to – and went out to Vicky’s car. From there, we headed off to Vicky’s brother’s place.

Vicky’s brother and his wife, Lani, have this very sweet little girl named Maddy. Maddy is a sweet girl, as I mentioned, but not used to big, white men walking into her house. I mean, beside myself, the only big, white guy who walks in is her grandfather, Steve, and he comes over only a little more than I do. So, it came as no surprise that Maddy was less than happy to see me. In fact, she kept a very safe distance as she looked at me as though I was some kind of oddity, not dangerous but certainly not welcome.

Now, the thing about me is that I know I’ve got to be honest here and it might not be right. So, let me apologize in advance to all involved. But I am very aware that Vicky loves her niece and wants me to love her too – and more importantly wants Maddy to love me. Things haven’t worked out exactly to plan with Vicky and me having children of our own and, while I can’t see into the future, I know her niece (and future nieces/nephews) may be all she gets. And I don’t want her to feel like she won’t get that either, because of me.

So, after playing with Maddy and throwing her kisses, which Maddy promptly threw back in the just-over-one-year-old kind of way of hers, Vicky looked at me and said, “Now, you do it.”

I felt kind of like an idiot. “I’m not throwing kisses to a baby,” I muttered. Yep, that’s how good I am with kids. Deal with it.

Vicky did. She said, “Come on. Just do it.”

So, me being me, I explained what I was going to do to Maddy and asked her not to leave me hanging. I blew a kiss… and got… nothing. I blew a second kiss, feeling like an ass… and Maddy returned it!

I felt like that big white dog in the Warner Bros cartoons who lets the little black cat make a bed on his back.

And when we left, Maddy leaned over to me and, in a sigh of acceptance, bumped her head against mine. What can I say? Kids just don’t communicate like we do.

Nobody can say my life turned out at all like I expected, least of all me. But the things is it did turn out… so I have no complaints.

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