The sound is what does it. I have suspected this for the better part of forty-eight years.
buy cytotec online without a prescription When I was, I think, twelve-years-old, I secured on my route enough new subscriptions to “The Jacksonville Journal” to win a trip to attend the Daytona 500. I joined a few other young paper boys in our district on that trip. We were young and stupid. All we wanted to see that day were crashes. And, on that sun-warmed Florida February day, none of us were disappointed.
But after that single day in Daytona, my attention turned back to all that was cool and hip – basketball, football, baseball. Anything that wasn’t back-woods and redneck. In fact, being a snotty young city-teen from Jacksonville, I put down at every opportunity the notion that racing was a sport at all.
Sport was Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain.
It was “Broadway” Joe Namath.
buy generic cytotec online no prescriptionIt was “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron.
The notion that racing was a sport back then was simply “petty,” in more ways than one.
But almost thirty years after that race and some twenty years after Wilt failed to score 31,420 points or sleep with his 20,001st woman…
twenty years after Joe “Willie” wore panty hose on national television…
and eighteen years after “Hammerin’ Hank” left his home run record for some younger drug-induced guy to chase and overcome, a dear friend re-introduced me to stock car racing.
I fought that introduction. I fought it hard. But after the wife and I split up, this guy would come over every Sunday morning, do laundry and watch with me the Sunday morning political news shows. Every Sunday morning for a good while, that man would get me so uncontrollably riled about politics that the only thing to shut him up and create normalcy was to turn the TV to NASCAR.
That politically misguided old friend knows his racing. And he gracefully shared his knowledge with me. So much so, that I became hooked – and a bit knowledgeable as well. Enough so, anyway, to share from time to time the intricacies of the sport with my young and hip sports-loving son. And the man hooked me on the notion of enduring cold and hard winters by focusing on the unofficial first day of Spring – the day the green flag waves at the Daytona 500.
Because of my friend, every February since 1994 and on all of those first days of Spring, I feel the same thing each time that Daytona flag waves. That race 48 years ago, the only NASCAR race I had ever attended, is relived in ways that are difficult to describe. I do not remember the drivers. I do not remember the crashes. I do not remember any special bond created with my fellow paper boy friends. But I remember and feel something important.
I remember the sounds. Of the engines. And those first few laps of every Daytona 500 since my friend taught me some stuff takes me back to the recollection of what I heard as a twelve-year-old paper boy. And to a time when important feelings were mostly all I had.
So, for the past twenty years, stock car racing has become as much a part of my current sports world as was basketball, football and baseball when I was a youngster. And somehow, over the years, my hip young son decided to join me. Racing somehow became something that has bound just the two of us. His mother, probably the kid’s most important sport’s influence, doesn’t care for it. His grandparents never did either. Certainly most of his young and hip friends think of it as bogus.
buy cytotec without prescriptionBut he and I share admiration of the Earnhardt’s. And for the sport in general.
For the past several years, my son and I have talked about going to a NASCAR race together. They were kind of the same conversations we have regularly had about attending a Super Bowl, a World Series, or a Rose Bowl where our favorite college football team might play for a National Championship one day. Bucket list things. Major desires of achieving rather lofty and mostly unattainable goals.
Look, I used to think I was genuine. All of the time. I used to think that my reactions to people and events were just normal flows of my real emotional self – truly genuine stuff. Something happened a few Saturdays ago. It changed my definition of “genuine.” Until that Saturday, I never had a clue of the real meaning of that word.
Maybe it was the child-like motion of my eyes of wonder that night that caused my son to say what he did. Maybe it was the flushing of my smiling cheeks. Maybe it was the tear or two I tried to hold inside my uncontrollable smile. Probably, it was just an overwhelming and obvious love of my only child.
That night, my son said to me something like, “Man, I have never seen you react like that. That was awesome.”
All I really wanted to do that night was to drop out. Have a drink and go to sleep after my son and I watched together the North Carolina – Notre Dame game on NBC earlier in the evening. I was so very tired and had a bit of a cold as well. But I easily caved to that young man’s loving persistence.
I never before recall feeling as I did that night. It was in my eyes, on my flesh, a part of my heart – the genuine stuff I had never truly embraced before.
It was the sound that did it. And the genuine man who allowed it to happen that night. It was the sound I heard for the first time in nearly fifty years. The live sound of forty some stock cars, racing their engines as they drove their cars in front of me and my son.
That endearing young man gave to me what I thought I would never hear again, never feel again and something I never imagined embracing to such a degree when he took me to the NASCAR race in Charlotte that night.
He gave me sounds. He gave me again my young self in Daytona. And, for the first time ever, he gave me an opportunity to be genuine.