I deeply and humbly apologize to anyone who was hurt by a story I posted a few days ago-which has been removed. My words were misunderstood and misconstrued by some. I never write anything, or do anything, with the intention of causing pain to another person. If you truly know me, then you know this to be true. I will be removing the Facebook connection to my blog. If you wish, you can subscribe to thepsychomother.com through WordPress.
Many years ago, as in about 45 years ago, my Mothah gave my father a Valentine. It was a pair of red, nylon boxer shorts. It was a joke. He never even had them on his body-not even once-because I, the one year old, snagged them and held on to them, well, for the better part of the next 45 years! I liked the way the nylon felt on my face when it got cold. If I set Britch (as in short for britches) to the side in my bed, I could grab him a few minutes later, and he felt so good to hold on to! Unfortunately, Britch’s friend, Nightie, did not make it. Nightie was one of Mothah’s hot pink, nylon nightgown’s that I also commandeered and took for my own. Sometimes, I would actually wear Britch and just carry Nightie around. Nightie disintegrated years and years ago-from so much love. I think she must have been made from nylon not as durable as Britch…because Britch lives! The other night, The Baby got into my bed because his Daddy was at a meeting. He had his Bunny and Penguin with him, and those are their names: Bunny and Penguin. They are (as if you wondered) a Bunny and a Penguin. Why complicate things? I think The Baby is very practical. Mini Me’s first teddy bear from Build-A-Bear was named Jim. Try to explain that one. Any way, we were chatting before going to sleep and I told The Baby all about Britch and Nightie. He stared at me with his eyes wide. You mean you actually slept with your father’s, um, I mean Poppy’s, underwear??? The Baby said to me. I chuckled. If you put it that way, I suppose it does sound a little…well….let’s just say strange and leave it at that. YES! I told him, and guess what? I still have him! The Baby’s eyes got wider as I jumped out of the bed. I only had to look in 3 drawers before I found Britch. See, I always know where Britch is. Just like The Middle Child always knows where Bippo is. Just like The Baby always knows where Bunny and Penguin are! I held him up for The Baby to look at. He was mystified. How, in God’s name, could his mother still have her security blanket? And furthermore, why in the hell was it a pair of nylon boxer shorts that are now unrecognizable as such? In fact, the only evidence at all that Britch was, at one time, britches of any sort, is the tag that says “Size 32”. I showed The Baby Britch’s paint stain. I got Britch in some wet, white paint at some point. It’s still there. Anyway, we finally went to sleep. The next day, I got up and made up the bed. That night, we got to go to see the Atlanta Braves play at their new stadium. We got home at midnight. I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, when I heard JC (who never turns down our bed) yell out: OH MY GOD! Is that BRITCH? I spit on the mirror-from laughing. I walked into our room and he was looking at me, eyebrows raised. YES, HELL, IT IS BRITCH! I said, WHAT OF IT? I snapped a quick pic of Britch in our bed. He was still looking at me. That is seriously fucked up, he said. It is not! I said, and explained the whole thing. Then, not really caring what he thought about it, I got into the bed and turned out my light. Whatever, I said, and I went to sleep with Britch in my clutches.
When someone younger than I am asks me what it is like to be a parent, my stock answer is “it hurts worse than anything I have ever done before”. I am talking about watching the milestones pass away, but I am also talking about the stuff nobody actually prepared me for. The stuff that feels like I literally have a dagger stuck into my heart and someone is standing there, twisting it around so that I feel the most pain I have ever felt-but it is not an evil pain. It’s a pain of love that is so very deep that even I, myself, would never have believed it possible for me to love another human being so much. It’s the watching my kid put her all into running for Student Council President in 5th grade, only to be beaten by someone who was ‘popular’ simply because it was, after all, just a popularity contest, and picking up the sobbing, heartbroken pieces afterward…It’s watching a kid go through that awful awkward phase-and wishing the phase would pass at a much faster pace…It’s knowing that my kid is having a hard time, socially, at school, and not being able to do a single thing about it…It’s about hearing my kid play guitar and realizing that I am responsible for that awesome talent….It’s about hearing my kid sing and getting chill bumps….It’s about wanting my kid to win, well, at everything, but knowing they cannot and, more importantly, should not. It’s about trying to prepare my kid for college, and knowing that they are going to eventually end up somewhere they shouldn’t be, drunk. It’s about taking my kid to college for the first time, and crying my eyes out as I drive out of town–audibly sobbing so loudly that it frightens my other children and they don’t know what to do….It’s about walking in that door after dropping my firstborn off at college, and knowing that he is gone…pretty much for good, and going into his room for a good cry and sleeping with one of his blanket’s for about 8 months… It’s about taking my firstborn to college for the second time…and setting him up in a house instead of the dorm. God! I had forgotten what it was like to set up housekeeping from scratch (not that I’ve ever had it so rough-thanks to Mothah), but I will say one thing: Thank GOD for grandparents! Mini Me did not possess a single fork to his name! I will also give great props to Amazon Prime Now. I couldn’t have done it without them. I did have to laugh when one of Mini Me’s friends said she could not believe that she was ‘experiencing this’, meaning watching me order shit on my phone and have it arrive at the house in an hour! I did not feel so very old. I felt so motherly, wiping out the kitchen cabinets and mopping the floors. I wanted to do for him what my mother had done for me-many times-and I did it. When we drove away that time, another piece of my heart stayed in Nashville…again. It’s about worrying about what my kid is actually doing at said off-campus housing! Oh MY God! Is he going to class? He better be! I am not paying for him just to live in Nashville! Oh MY God! Has he gotten someone to buy him beer? Of course he has. Oh MY God! Is he keeping his house as clean as it was when I left him there? Of course not. Oh MY God! Is he sleeping? Of course not. It’s about knowing he is probably doing some of the same things you were at that age, and knowing that like your mother, you can’t do a damn thing about it except hope that he is smarter than you were. While you have one already out of the nest, chances are, there may be others at home….This is when it’s about wishing my kid would come out of her room…It’s also about being so proud of my kid’s report card-wishing I had been so dedicated….It’s about watching my kid at his first piano recital-in his J. Crew Factory suit, looking like the bomb-diggity and acing his piece….It’s also about watching the Middle Child and The Baby hurt each other’s feelings…It’s about going out to the pool to relax and knowing that you will, indeed, have to get in the icy cold water and play with The Baby…It’s about watching The Baby beg The Middle Child to get in and play with us, and watching her refuse. I mouthed to her, “Pretty soon he won’t care”…. but I don’t think she got it. I think she thought I meant he would forget about it. I meant that in a few years, he won’t give a shit what she is doing. I said to The Baby, pretty soon, you won’t want to be out here with me! He said, I will always want to be out here with you, Mom. I had to put my sunglasses on then–so he wouldn’t see me cry. I know that it’s totally normal and natural for him to grow out of me….And I thought about Mini Me. He has been gone 2 weeks and I am starting to miss him. Have I failed him? Did I get off the float and play “Bolley Ball” with him? I hope that I did. It’s about watching my kids on stage–performing together–and knowing that they are, without a doubt: The. Most. Important. Accomplishments. Of. My. Life. I can also say that if I had known how much being a parent would hurt, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. There are some things that life does not prepare anyone for–for just reason.
I first visited France in the summer when I was 23 years old. I fell in love with Paris and vowed to move there and forget about the U.S. forever. I just returned from my second visit to France. I am 46 years old. I was traveling with 9 of the people I love most, on a trip of a life time, that was spectacular, amazing, and for me-very, very bittersweet. I rarely use that word: bittersweet. It seems somehow connected to the word regret, and I try to stay out of that. I decided that I was going to enjoy watching my children discover the wonders of Paris and there were things that I was going to do-even if I had to do them by myself. One of those things was that I had to get back to visit my old friend Jim. It had been 23 years, after all. The 20th arrondissement was a long way from our loft house on Avenue de Clichy- a metro switch and about 14 stops. Finally, on our last day, after a trip of a lifetime (that you will be reading more about in small segments), JC, Mini Me, The Middle Child, The Baby, and my cousin Clint went with me to Père Lachaise.
I have had a thing for The Doors, and particularly Jim Morrison, since I was a young teenager. Of course I never had the opportunity to see them perform live- Jim died when I was almost a year old. I have read a few of the books about The Doors… Jim’s poetry…done a little research….you know, the things an obsessive teenager does when they are infatuated with celebrity… There was a very long period of time (and yes, I do still wonder) that I believed that Jim did not actually die in Paris-that perhaps he did manage to fake his own death and run off somewhere to live the rest of his life in peace. 23 years ago, my visit to the grave of Jim Morrison was up there with seeing the Eiffel Tower for me…maybe even higher. When I came home from France that first time, I said that ‘when I die, I want my ashes taken to Paris and put on Jim Morrison’s grave’. Everybody thought I was nuts. I’m telling you–my thing for Jim was huge. It has never really waned-just filed away as I grew older. Notice that I did not say ‘as I grew up‘…
Père Lachaise is enormous. The website says that there are up to 1,000,000 people buried there and there are over 5,000 trees. It really is a beautiful cemetery-the most beautiful one I have ever seen.
Many important people are buried there–Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, Molière, Marcel Marceau, Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf, just to name a few. The graves are very close together and it would take days to see every one. There is a map to help visitors find people they are looking for, but even still, one can get lost easily! I started to recognize the area when we started getting close-mostly because it is flat. My heart sank when I saw that there was a police barricade around Jim’s grave (and others). There went my chance to recreate my photo. There was also a small crowd of people. The fleeting thought of jumping the barricade crossed my mind, but I shooed it away, reminding myself that I am insane…. LOL 😉 JC looked at me. He knew how important this was to me–ridiculous though it may have been. He started to try to figure out how we could be there when the place opened first thing the next morning, I could jump the barricade, he could take the picture, then we could get back to our place in time to leave for the airport. I thought about that for a few minutes but the whole idea seemed destined to fall apart–we would never have time to come all that way in the morning when we were trying to leave! Then, Clint (my cousin who is 2 weeks older than I am, and who is more like a brother to me) said, any true Jim Morrison fan would jump that barricade….Mini Me said, I’m doing it. And he did. Right there. In front of the little group of people who were standing there.
JC said, why don’t you just let that be your ’23 years later’ photo? I stood there-wheels spinning in my head…We did not need to come all the way back down here the next day, and, I was not getting any younger. My ballroom days are over, baby…Night is drawing near…. Here we were in Paris. Finally. 23 years later. The time to hesitate is through….no time to wallow in the mire…try now we can only lose… Jim would have jumped that barricade, no doubt. Then, I heard somebody whisper (I’m pretty sure it was Clint 😉 …BREAK ON THROUGH…. and that was all it took.
Five to one, baby…One in five…No one here gets out alive, now….You get yours, baby…I’ll get mine…Gonna make it, baby…If we try…..
If there is one thing that I can encourage my kids to do, it is to spend time in France. Go to school there. Move there. Do it. Make it happen. Who knows? Maybe I will do it someday. If not, I still want my ashes taken to Paris and put on Jim Morrison’s grave– I’m still nuts. And I no longer care what ‘everybody’ thinks 😉
I was washing my face last night when The Baby walked (a little sulkily) into the bathroom, but obviously with some news he needed to share with me. I asked him what was up. He announced to me that one of Mini Me’s favorite musician’s had died, and he asked me if I already knew that information. I told him I did. He stood there for a minute and we looked at each other. Then, with complete and total veneration for his musician-big-brother (and said big brother’s sadness over the loss of Chris Cornell), as well as a little bit of rockstar-little-brother-EGO, The Baby says to me: Yeah. I’m pretty sure it was the guy from Radiogarden.
(Yes, I whispered Soundgarden 😉 )
I did not want to go to the Colonel’s birthday party. In fact, I was kinda mad about it. It was a weeknight, for God’s sake. I’m old now. I don’t hang with the big dogs anymore. Hell, I can’t hang with the big dogs anymore. I had been tired all week. Our new pain-in-the-ass puppy had been driving me Crazy-yes, with a capital C and our new routine of getting up at 4:00am was not sitting well with me. I was going to be proctoring Georgia Milestone testing all morning at work on Tuesday, and I could not be one second late-something that was becoming a challenge. Our weekend had been fun but hectic, with a house full of family and commitments. I needed a weekend to recover from the weekend. “Going out” is no longer relaxing for me. The major problem is that I cannot stand crowds, and this one was going to be huge- the show sold out in minutes. I just don’t like to be surrounded by people. I’ve never really liked it, but it has definitely worsened with age. I started to tell JC I did not want to go, but I did not want to disappoint him. I knew he had been looking forward to this for a while. He assured me that it would all be over by 11:00pm and we would be home by midnight. I bucked up and went. I was a little taken aback at how close our seats were. Row L, Right Orchestra is only 12 rows back. I was on the aisle and JC was right next to me. I was shocked at how well I could see. Most people would have been thrilled to be so close to the stage. Not me. I felt closed in. That night, it felt like I was going into a pit of quicksand. I knew that the later it got, more people from the back would make their way down to the front and fill in any open spaces that happened to be there, and there was nothing the ushers could do about it. Everyone was chanting “Bruuuuuuce” the way they always do for The Colonel. Most of Widespread Panic was there-JB, Jimmy Herring, Dave Schools, and Duane Trucks. John Fishman of Phish. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Peter Buck of REM. Oliver Wood. Tinsley Ellis. Warren Haynes. Chuck Leavell. Kevn Kinney….I am sure I am leaving lots of important people out. The kid who played Zack in School of Rock on Broadway- Brandon Niederauer – was there (The Middle Child and I saw that show with Mothah last summer when we were in NYC). When Leftover Salmon came out and played “Working on a Building”, the entire place was bouncing and rocking like I have never seen before. Those guys reminded me of The Country Bears. I started to feel a little uneasy. The guys that shared our row with us left their seats at least 800 times. I guess they were going to get beer, and subsequently, going to use the restroom. It was worse than being in a car with a bunch of little girls drinking juice boxes on a road trip. It got so annoying that I started to tell them that next time, they needed to make sure they got themselves aisle seats. I got beer spilled all over my feet three times–twice by the people behind us, and once by someone coming down the aisle, who tripped. I was not pleased, as you might imagine. I was wearing sandals. I expect more out of people at the Fox. At 11:00pm, there was no end in sight, and I turned into über bitch. Of course, it was JC’s fault that the show was not over! Who else could possibly be responsible?! I lit right into him: YOU SAID IT WAS OVER AT 11:00! I HAVE TO PROCTOR MILESTONES IN THE MORNING! I HAVE TO GO HOME! JC looked at me like I had lost my ever loving mind. (I had. For the millionth time, at least) I did not even have my phone or my purse in the Fox. Apparently an email had gone out before the show-saying they were going to measure bags at the door and there was a size limit. I am not sure what they thought somebody might bring in there. That crowd, my crowd, (I’ve been part of that crowd since 1988-I think I can call it mine), really doesn’t strike me as the gun-toting type, and if they were worried about drugs…well, I doubt anybody would have taken any huge quantity of anything into a show-but hey-whatever. Lucky for me, we rode with friends-and one told me of this email while we were still at the car. Also lucky for me, I had my trusty tape measure in my big, giant bag. I measured said bag, and sure enough, it was about 5 inches over the limit (and no, I do not carry a gun or large quantities of drugs in case you are wondering) so I left it in the car, along with my iPhone 6 plus big ass phone that would not fit in my pocket! BUT…unlucky for me, this meant that I could not call myself an Uber and get the hell out of there! I was Screwed. With a Capital S. When I am Screwed, it makes me even MADDER because it means things are completely out of my control–as if they were in my control to begin with BWAHAHAHAHA 😉 I looked like a two year old having a fit and I knew it and I did not care. I literally stomped my foot and crossed my arms. I finally came to the realization that I was stuck and I was just going to have to deal with that fact. I had certainly been out later than this and made it to work on time the next day. Colonel Bruce launched into “I’m So Glad”–his signature ‘last song’, and JC leaned over and said this is the last song. At the end, we headed up the aisle to the lobby. The thought of trying to beat that mob of people out the doors of the Fox was terrifying to me. We should have known that they were not finished when the mob did not follow us. We checked the monitors in the lobby, and it appeared that the crew was taking down the stage, so we headed to the car. Still, there was no mass exit behind us. It was eerily quiet. We were at the car for about 5 minutes when the ambulance came screaming down Peachtree. This is not an unusual sight for that part of town at that time of night, though I did wonder if someone had overdosed inside the Fox. About 5 minutes later, we walked back up to the street from the car to wait on our friends. People were finally starting to trickle down Peachtree. When we saw our friends, we found out that I’m Glad had not been the last song. They had gone into Turn on Your Lovelight and The Colonel had collapsed on stage. The other musicians played over him for a few minutes-thinking he was joking around. He had a propensity for doing things like that. When they finally realized he wasn’t kidding, they turned him over and he had wet himself. The ambulance we had seen was for him. I knew instantly that the Colonel was gone. He died right there, surrounded by all of the people who loved him–at the most fantastic birthday party anyone could ever imagine. Of course it was not announced that way. The next morning, we read that they were able to regain a pulse before taking him to Crawford Long, where he died a few hours later. I will never believe that. I believe that The Colonel died on stage at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.
I first started seeing Colonel Bruce in Athens, Georgia at The Georgia Theatre when I was 18 years old. He was a fixture in Athens at the time–with his band, The Aquarium Rescue Unit. Colonel Bruce would come out in his Colonel’s jacket with all of the buttons. The music was funky and we loved it….Strange Voices. Basically Frightened. The first time I saw Derek Trucks play, Derek was about 14 years old and he played with Colonel Bruce at The Georgia Theatre!
I keep hearing people say that they cannot believe that Colonel Bruce died the way that he did….or that he is gone…..This is a man who could guess your birthday after talking to you for just a few minutes! This musical genius who helped some of the finest musicians the world knows today….I know he is missed by so many. He made such an impression on so many people. The first time Mini Me met The Colonel, it was at Shorty’s Pizza in Tucker. JC introduced them and told The Colonel that Mini Me played guitar. The Colonel looked at Mini Me and yelled out “YES!YESYES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!” and then turned around and that was it! LOL. That was The Colonel. Of course he went the way he did! He wouldn’t have gone any other way! It makes total sense! It was the perfect ending for him. We should all be so lucky.
It’s Testing Time at school. Georgia Milestones. Honestly, I have not really given much thought to testing until now–now that I am smack dab in the middle of it, proctoring a classroom and seeing how it all goes down. My school has it down to fine art–like a well oiled machine (for the most part). Our principal has mad skills in organization. Of course things have gotten, well, a little…um…testy…here and there, but that’s to be expected. Testing is stressful for everyone!
These kids don’t have a clue how good they have it. They are taking their tests on computers! We, oh MY GOD, WE had to use PENCILS!!! Pencils and SCANTRON SHEETS!
And the instructions for the damn Scantron sheets were heinous!!! The teacher had to read them EVERY time we started a new section! Carefully fill in the bubble. Do not darken outside the bubble. Be sure to darken the bubble completely or the Scantron reader will not be able to read your answer. Make sure that you are on the same line with your question…..OMG. If you managed to get off line, you were totally screwed. These kids are only taking a section or two, two days a week! We, oh MY GOD, WE tested ALL DAY!!! Our little hands were cramped up and exhausted from filling in all of those damned BUBBLES! These kids get to…wait for it… EAT a snack between sections! YES, a SNACK!!! Now here is where I just really take offense. Back in the day, nobody gave rat’s ass whether WE needed a SNACK or not! There we were-little, tiny students….YES, we were a lot smaller than students are today! I know this to be true because I found a dress that I wore all the time in 5th grade and I held it up to The Baby about two months ago. It was way too small for him and he is in 3rd Grade. Granted, he is slightly tall for his age, but only slightly. Where was I??? Oh yes, there we were-little, tiny students, testing all day, filling in Scantron bubbles in hot classrooms (because back in the day a lot of schools did not have AC) SANS SNACK until lunchtime. Now, what kind of sadistic world were we living in?! It’s all coming back now–like PTSD…the abuse we suffered during ITBS Week. I may have to seek therapy…..Don’t come crying to me about how hard your baby has it for GA Milestones… 😉
I have heard some call it The Armageddon of the Highways, in jest, and others are serious when they say it. One thing is for certain: Atlantans only thought traffic was bad before March 30, that fateful day that I-85 caught fire and part of it burned down. The week after Spring Break, we had some more road problems. Torrential rains, hail-thunder-bolt-and-lightning-very-very-frightning-flash-flooding caused some roads to be closed down near where I live. This was Northlake Parkway:
THEN, I-20 buckled, due to an underground gas leak.
I was half expecting to see this guy come up through the concrete: A major intersection in my neighborhood was recently closed for about 5 weeks while the county fixed a water main. This sign appeared on Easter Sunday: This is the main road that we all use to get in and out of the neighborhood! This sign was a joke, of course, and the intersection was actually open, but some of us were beginning to feel like it was going to be closed forever. This week, a sinkhole on 5th Street was reported:
Now, this traffic thingy does not affect me all that much, say, unless, I have to go to one of my many doctors, who are spread out all over the city. While I thought I had taken care of all that over Spring Break, alas, I should have known that something else would inevitably come up and I would not only have to miss more work, but also have to drive through the clusterfuck that is now the Buford Highway Connector. I was right, of course. The Middle Child had a doctor’s appointment yesterday-deep in the heart of the fake Buckhead (I can say fake Buckhead, having grown up in Madison, Georgia, the next-door-neighbor to the original Buckhead, the one that keeps Buckhead in Atlanta from ever becoming it’s own city). We left our house in more than plenty of time, as I have a real hang-up about being late. I used Waze-even though my favorite voices (Morgan Freeman and Madea) are no longer available, damn it (If they are available, I cannot figure out how to use them-which would not be surprising in the least). They made it much more tolerable to drive anywhere. While Waze totally rocks, sometimes, there is just nothing it can do-especially here-and yesterday was one of those unfortunate times.
Everywhere I turned, there was a stopped line of traffic. I felt like I was in a corn maze…or better yet, at the Overlook Hotel…with Jack Torrance chasing me…..When we finally made it to what looked to be free and open road on I-75, we were blocked by 18 wheelers on either side, and an elderly woman doing 55 in a Camry in front of us. Not missing a beat, The Middle Child and I burst out into song, simultaneously, with a moving rendition of Ludacris’ “MOVE BITCH GET OUT DA WAY, GET OUT DA WAY”… I am getting a bit teary just thinking about it now (from laughing). I was finally able to pass the Camry and made up 2 minutes of our lost time before I exited onto Moore’s Mill Road and got hung up in traffic, yet again. Needless to say, we did make it, and only 4 minutes late. I have ONE GIANT COMPLAINT: PEOPLE OF ATLANTA!!!! STOP BLOCKING INTERSECTIONS!!!!! YOU ARE CAUSING THE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS!!!!! Our ride home was also heinous. Today I ordered groceries. I have had to lay down some ground rules. Nobody is allowed to do anything (except go to school) that involves me driving more than a two mile radius from home. All doctor and hair appointments (these fall under Necessary) must be mid-morning or on the weekend. If you must stay at school late, you must Uber home. Last, but not least, we will not be leaving the city on Fridays after 3:00AM. And a word of advice to anyone even considering coming to Atlanta: DON’T. For the love of GOD, stay out of here. I am thinking we may need to change Atlanta’s name to “Hotel California, Georgia”. You may be able to get in, but you can never leave. Good luck.
Yesterday, my cousin (who is more like a brother to me than a cousin) Clint and I went to Road ATL to watch my brother, Eli, race motorcycles. Clint drove up from Madison, to my house, which is actually in Atlanta, and we drove from my house to Road ATL. I find it somewhat ironic that Road ATL is on the Winder Highway, in Braselton, GA, 40 miles away from my house, which is in Atlanta. I was not exactly sure what I should wear to the race. I mean, I knew I could wear shorts. I opted for a striped, sleeveless, $15 dress from Old Navy, and threw on my running shoes. The Middle Child said it looked terrible. Clint said he hated it, too. It wasn’t the dress-it was the shoes with the dress. OKAY, OKAY, fine, I said. I went and put on my old, black, flat, glitter sandals with the ankle straps. I felt overdressed. JC said, It’s a spectator sport. There will be lots of people there who are dressed up. You will be fine. Here are your dressed-up spectators, Honey:
Thank God, Clint and I did a drive-by before we actually parked and got out. We split the scene and found the nearest Target so we could buy me some flip-flops and us some chairs (We did not find those bleacher thingies until after we went to Target. LMAO) Also, we went through the busiest Chick-Fil-A drive thru of all-time. It was so busy, it had to have it’s own traffic director. Unfortunately for you, I did not think to get a picture of that. We got back to Road ATL, ate our lunch, and Eli told us where we should go to watch the race. So, we went. We took Safety with us. The dog. Safety is Eli’s dog. The bikes are really, really loud. We were almost at the very end of the track, and we could hear them coming literally-a mile away. Okay, well, it probably was not actually a mile. It sounds like a really loud swarm of bees at first, then it is unmistakable–at least to me, but I grew up around motorcycles. They would go by so fast, that it was hard for us to find Eli at first. We knew what his bike looked like:
And we knew that he was #418. His helmet is black. His suit is black and white. None of that information narrows it down very much. Several in his group have similar colors, even though I don’t think anybody else had that exact same combination LOL. They are all going so fast, that it’s hard to see their numbers until they get right up on you–and, you are not allowed to get that close to the track. My 46.5 year old glasses-wearing eyes could barely see the numbers at all…until it was too late! I started taking pictures of everyone, knowing that eventually, I’d get him in at least one! (These are all him) (I think) 😉
They race in groups by experience. Eli is in the Advanced Group. The groups race for 20 minutes at a time and go once an hour. We decided just to stay where we were and not go back and forth to the Main Paddock. I had water for Safety (the dog, remember?) The next race was at 3:00. We were waiting for them to start when we saw 3 ambulances with their lights on, coming down the track. That was very unnerving. I looked at my watch. 3:02. I figured that was not enough time for Eli’s group to have even started. It was someone from the previous group, and we heard later that it was bad. We had positioned ourselves, our chairs, water, and Safety down at the very bottom of those stands. This was quite a hike and really good lunge exercise. I ended up having to go up these damn things 4 times–to get random shit out of the car. For this second round, we had set up a little farther down-so that we could see the bikes ‘do the S curve’ before they went up ‘Wheelie Hill’- a hill that lots of them did wheelies on because when they come out of the S and start up the hill, accelerating their speed, it’s on the engine and gravity. The motorcycle’s engine supplies more torque through the drive train to the rear wheel than the gravitational torque….click/boom: WHEELIE! I saw more wheelies yesterday than I have ever seen in my life, and it was au naturel…nobody was showing off. We somehow totally missed Eli’s 3:05 (post ambulance) round. In all of our intent searching for him, we never saw him go by. LMAO. In our defense, there was a lady there, photographing the whole thing for a friend. Her friend had texted her that his group, The Novice Group, had to stop mid-session, due to the big accident. She thought that his group had come back out at 3:05. Somehow, ‘black helmet, #418, white wheels, red bike’ were all just too much for me to look for at the same time, while the bikes were all going 180mph. Finally, at about 3:55, his group came out and we spotted him 😉 That was when we got our best pics. It was also when they got the red flag and had to go in early. The red flag means somebody has had an accident. We knew it was not Eli, because we actually got pics of him holding his arm up (to signify that he had seen the red flag) and going in. Now, at the time, we did not know what all of this meant, so we just sat back down and hung out. About 15 minutes later, I got this text:
(Those pics are some I had sent Eli after the first round we saw) So we gathered up all of our shit, and Safety, and we headed back up those big, bleacher thingies one last time. I decided my knees did not have it in me, so we walked all the way over to the edge and walked up the ramp–luckily, I think Safety knew he was going back to Eli, and was excited about that, so he pulled me up. When we got to the landing at the top, we heard another group start up. As we were almost to my car, Safety stopped dead in his tracks–like he was not going to move. He knew. Or at least he thought Eli was coming back out on the track! “Come on, Safe!” I said, “He’s not coming back out-that’s another group. Daddy’s done! Let’s go!” He walked on and got in the backseat of my car. When we got to the Main Paddock, I got him out of the car, and he walked me, very briskly, back to Eli! Safety knew exactly where he was!
I see now why Eli loves racing so much. I felt free, just being at the racetrack. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be driving that bike. I don’t really want to try that. I think I might feel like everybody else was chasing me-and that wouldn’t be fun for me. I used to ride a Honda Trail Bike (motorcycle) on the farm (a lot, not just once) growing up–and I loved it. It was very freeing. We did dangerous shit like that when we were young. We actually lived to tell about it too. Imagine that. My adrenaline was rushing, just watching them. I must add my Ricky Bobby commentary (even though I am well aware that Ricky Bobby raced cars, not motorcycles) Talladega Nights remains one of my favorite movies of all time…..It was a beautiful day at Road ATL….for those who like to go FAST…..we did not have our cougar, Karen, with us, but we did have our Labradoodle, Safety….. These men are the best there is. Plain and Simple. They wake up in the morning and they piss excellence….Maybe Eli and Elliott (the guy he rides with) ought to consider changing their names to El Diablo and The Magic Man… 😉 I’m just sayin’ ….will you at least consider saying ‘Shake and Bake’? You know, like before you start the race? LOLOL Please? 🙂
I HAD SO MUCH FUN!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK! Back to this place where the rubber meets the road. I hope it’s soon. Next time, though, I’m wearing shorts.
After I finished this post, I remembered an integral part that I had inadvertently left out. I thought about just leaving well enough alone, but alas, I cannot 😉 And, actually, it’s two integral parts. While we were watching another group race, I saw somebody lay their bike down hard in the S curve. The guy flipped (his body) four times, and landed in the gravel. I gasped and jumped up out of my chair. The hair was standing up on my arms. The guy just got up and walked away. The suits that they all wear do exactly what they are supposed to do: protect them.
During the round that we missed Eli–when we kept thinking that he was not out there (and he actually was LOL), it crossed my mind that perhaps those three ambulances we had seen had been for him! Nobody that he was with knew me. I thought that maybe, just maybe, somebody had seen me, in my black and white convict-ish striped dress, and new flip-flops (that I tripped over more than once) taking Safety off with me. Lots of people seemed to know Safety. And maybe, just maybe, somebody would have the wherewithal to come and look for me-if something had happened. Nobody ever did, and then, of course, I got that text from Eli….so, you know. Anyway, on the way home, I shared that little psycho tidbit of information with Clint 😉 I think it was probably one of those things that you think but should just not share 😉 Clint burst out laughing. He said, Jennifah! I can see it now. Next time we are here, you are gonna be handing out business cards to all those people down at the Main Paddock! You’ll be saying, “Here’s my information, please call me if something happens!” My VistaPrint order should be here in about a week, El Diablo 😉