Cheryl Walker · Tuesday February 15, 2005
Back in the days before I was a NASCAR fan, I held a job with The Mental Health Association in my county. Now that statement is not meant to be a comparison of the state of my own mental health since becoming reborn as a NASCAR fan. As a matter of fact, I know it to be true that I am a much happier and well-adjusted person than in my days of ignorance about all things that go fast. If you overlook unimportant and petty things like how I presently schedule my weekends, choose my clothes, how I decorate my home, and how much money I spend on things like vanity plates and window decals for my car, why I am the same Cheryl I always was, only better.
One of the things that the administrators of the M.H.A. believed in was having well-trained employees, and one of the ways they accomplished that was to send their workers to lots of conferences dealing with various mental health issues. I went to several of them in my state and a few out-of-state. Not only was I becoming more knowledgeable, but I was learning about the fine art of packing as well.
Those who travel a lot know that there is a lot more to packing than throwing some stuff in a suitcase and heading out the door. You have to choose your outfits taking weather into consideration; and, especially if you are a female, you have to concern yourself with such things as accompanying shoes, jewelry, curling irons, makeup, and unmentionables of all sorts. And after accumulating all of those things on the bed, comes the stage of packing that requires the most skill: figuring out how to put it all into the suitcase so the clothes aren’t mangled and the zipper can close. There are those that can struggle with this step for years, and never really ever get it right.
I am going through the process right now, as my son, Joshua, and I are headed to Daytona International Speedway to enjoy ‘The Great American Race’, and all of the events leading up to it. We will be in the sometimes-sunny, sometimes-windblown state of Florida for a full week, and that’s a lot of clothes (especially considering that Florida in February can sometimes be sunny and warm; and sometimes chilly and wet. Instead of 7 outfits, it’s 7 ‘warm’ outfits and 7 ‘chilly’ outfits).
Now that I am packing as a NASCAR fan as well, there is even more to consider. Do we have binoculars, as Daytona is a wee bit bigger than other tracks we have been at, such as Bristol? Did we remember to pack Joshua’s favorite Bobby Labonte ball cap? How about our leather coats that are rapidly filling up with scribbled signatures of the drivers that we love? Are we remembering the scheduled list of events that we copied off the internet, so that we don’t miss one millisecond of racing, practice, or qualifying? What about the earplugs, as sometimes the roar of the engines gets to be too much for Joshua? How about some facial tissues, in the event either a sentimental or personal favorite driver grabs the Daytona trophy, and dissolves me to tears?
And the one thing that cannot be forgotten, that is of paramount importance to all NASCAR fans everywhere: the black Sharpies®. We have them in my purse, our luggage, the camera case, and in Joshua’s fanny pack. We could forget to change out of our jammies, we could have our underwear on outside of our clothes, but you can bet your favorite NASCAR memento that we’ll have a Sharpie on us somewhere!
Before I go to try smashing some more racing t-shirts into my suitcase, let me say one thing: I wish all of you could be with us when Daytona International Speedway comes into view for Joshua for the first time. I know that his face will shine with bright rainbow auras, just as mine did a year ago when I got to see it for the first time. This is a moment that not every NASCAR fan gets to experience, but one that every fan understands. It’s as close to earthly Heavenly Gates as there could be.
I’d get a picture of that moment for you, but I’m sure I will be unable to handle a camera right then. I am sure I will be in something of a hypnotic state myself.
Today on the Frontstretch!
Making the Grade: Nextel Cup Budweiser Shootout
Frontstretch 2005 Preview: 7th – Ryan Newman
Frontstretch 2005 Preview: 8th-Kasey Kahne
Numbers Game – Bud Shootout
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