The kids get a break this week.
Courtney of Baking in my Bathing Suit suggested I extend an invitation to the grown-up world for Go Ask Daddy. A handful of readers submitted questions, so there was enough to set the girls’ questions back on the shelf for today.
Mimi of Messy Mimi’s Meanderings asked me to tell the story of when I broke big-league news at a small-town paper.
I covered racing for the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record. It was my second job out of college. A racing writer at a tiny paper doesn’t make enough to pay country club dues. Hell, it barely pays enough to buy a club sandwich. In the country.
I waited tables at a greasy sandwich shack called Ham’s.
Two or three NASCAR teams’ headquarters were nearby, and the fellas liked to come in for a Steam Engine sandwich and sweet tea for lunch. The guys from Bill Elliott’s shop popped in late in the lunch shift one afternoon.
“Late lunch today,” I said. “We’ve been working all morning trying to get this special seat ready for Bill to take to Talladega!” one good old boy said. Bill Elliott had missed a few weeks of racing with a broken femur. They’d expected him to miss several more races.
In the restaurant biz, the only thing tougher than getting barbecue sauce stains out of your apron: convincing your boss (and co-workers) to let you out early without doing your side work.
He did, and they did. In the era before the Internet, we couldn’t break the story online. The only way to get credit – steal it, really, from Tom Higgins and the Charlotte Observer juggernaut – would be to send the story to the Associated Press.
They’d have to credit not me, but the Hickory Daily Record for the report.
That was good enough.
The Hickory Daily Record reports that Bill Elliott will race at Talladega on Sunday, thanks for a specially crafted safety seat to protect his fractured femur …
Here’s what y’all asked:
From Court, of Baking in my Bathing Suit:
1. When you were 5 what did you want to be when you grew up? (Other than a stormtrooper)
and You’re spot on about the stormtrooper!
As a kindergartener, I thought I’d be a cartoonist. I loved to draw Woody Woodpecker, choosing the second-tier character over anything Disney spit out. I drew lots of animal characters, all funny. I drew a cartoon strip once called Yodon and PeePee.
No copies exist of this strip. It came years before I ever fantasized about becoming an NFL quarterback or married to Blair from The Facts of Life.
Honestly, I probably wanted to be Woody Woodpecker. But that’s for another post.
2. If money was no object, what would the one place you’d like to see the most? Who would you take with you?
I’d love to go to Madrid. I’d want to take a train across Spain, visiting soccer clubs and sampling food and discussing the fine points of blogging and grilled cheese con las mujeres. Or Maybe New York City. I’d wear my Rockies cap.
Stateside, maybe I’d go to the Underground Gardens in Fresno (and get a tri tip sandwich, too). Or even San Francisco, to watch a baseball game and wear my Rockies cap. I might get bludgeoned, but I might also make it out for a sourdough burger.
I’d bring my girls, of course. Or Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights if the girls are too busy. (Sorry, coach.)
From Joey, of Big Teeth Clouds:
3. Do you have any advice for returning to the blog world after a long break?
Yes. Just write. Don’t waste time explaining why, or where you were, or don’t you dare apologize, even if you’ve told a racing breaking news story and it reads kinda boring. No, step right in and write and use that energy you’ve kept under wraps.
Or, write a guest post on my blog. Get back in the game right here. We’ll bring you back in style. That first step is a mean one, but you have to put your shoulder into it, write back with a vengeance like you’re a Death Star that won’t actually get blown apart.
From Beth of I Didn’t have My Glasses On …
4. Why does the bottle/can return always jam every time I am there trying to return?
It doesn’t, really. It just feels like it does. Like when you say “every time I look at the clock, it’s 11:11!” No, it isn’t. You just remember when you look and it is 11:11. You don’t remember when you look and it’s 9:25, 12:15, or 1:20.
Like, it feels like they always run out of supreme pizza when I get to the buffet at CiCi’s. Or the cop in front of the elementary school near my house – you know, the bald dude – always stops my car to let traffic out.
For that matter, if there’s a long line and I’m in it, the people who don’t want to be bothered to walk around the end of the line always pick the spot right in front of me to break through. Of course, that doesn’t happen all the time either, but you get the point.
We feel as if the world is out to get us sometimes, and although I’m convinced the universe does have a sick sense of humor – look at what it did to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indians at about this time last year – I don’t think it has it out for us.
I think we sometimes turn the odds against us, like when we complain that every time we drive on Memorial Day weekend, we get pulled over. It must be the universe (or at least police force) conspiring, right?
Maybe it’s because we were speeding or because we jam the cans in wrong.
Anyway, I want you to think about the times things went right. When the cans did what you wanted them to, or maybe even the kids. Or the time at the restaurant you got to hold one of your boss’ kids while he fell asleep on your shoulder before you had kids.
Because that’s the moment you really knew you wanted to become a dad. Tangibly.
I don’t believe in predetermination but I wonder if maybe the universe does mess with your can. Wait, not that can. I wonder if the universe makes my car slow to second gear or causes the Nuggets to miss the playoffs because something bigger is at play.
Because jammed cans and chatty NASCAR mechanics lead to other things, you know?