Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sunrises, 41 Home Runs, Up North and Toronto

There was the most beautiful sunrise this morning as I walked to work. I walked out the door to the most gorgeous pink cloudy sky and as I made the five minute walk to work the sky brightened to orange and then onto yellow and I could see the rays of the sun just like the Japanese flag or a child's picture. It was not a bad way to start out the day!

I stayed up way too darn late last night watching the Home Run Derby here in Detroit at Comerica Park (aka Tiger Stadium). I wouldn't have felt obligated to stay up, but our very own Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez made it into the Final Round. It was damn near 11:30 before I got to bed. I finally dragged my sorry butt out of bed around 45 minutes after the alarm first went off.

I had a great week off, even if I still resent the fact that I was forced to take vacation time when I didn't want it. The cottage that we rented was perfect! Right on the lake, perfect firepit for bonfires which our very own Swiss Army guy built every night, a pontoon boat for lazing on the lake, and a trip into town where I found a $242 black dress for $48. Okay, I didn't find it, Julie found it on the clearance rack. After Spoozy tried it on, I decided to try it on and liked it. While standing in line to buy it, I realised that we had been complete goofballs and tried the damn thing on backwards. Out of line I got and went back to the fitting rooms to try it on correctly. It fit even better when put on front to front and back to back. I told Spoozy she could borrow it whenever she wanted (as long as I'm not going to the same event). Oh yeah, back to the bonfires - they were so huge and roaring that we were sitting at least five feet away and saying, "Oy vey, it's so hot." Okay, I was the only one saying Oy vey. I was very good and had only ONE 'smore made with my vegan marshmallows. I'm still trying hard to lose weight and went back to the gym yesterday after taking a much needed mental break.

BST and I left Up North on Wednesday morning and made very good time getting home (my goal is always to get home as fast as possible) and I had time to do two loads of laundry, go to the mall to find some new shorts as I tore the only pair in which I'm semi-comfortable up at the cottage, re-pack and watch a movie. Thursday morning was an early start to our (Mom's and my) trip to Toronto for the race. We got to the hotel where we've stayed for about five years only to find out that it's no longer a Quality Hotel, but a Holiday Inn (changed the day before). They told us that we couldn't check in, but in the end they let us. My mission this trip to TO was to find a yarn store. Last year we walked quite a distance to find out that the yarn store I had found on the Internet had changed into a bike repair shop. The previous years my mission was all about finding Chuck Taylors (I'm pretty sure I didn't win the contest, as I've heard nothing. DARN), as the only store I knew that sold tons of different colors was out in Ann Arbor and I hate driving/parking in Ann Arbor. The exchange rate these days is not favorable (as it has been in the past), so went yarn looking. Mom and I walked all over Toronto. I had a map and I had addresses, so off we went. It was a very long walk to the first store which was pretty sucky – basically just worsted weight yarns in a variety of whites, beiges and not very exciting colors. We were in there less than two minutes. It was on to the next store which was still further away. I had a huge ass blister by this point, but I wasn't going to give up my search. We found the next store and it was much nicer. It was called The Knit Café and it was a combination coffee shop and yarn store. I bought a very beautiful 70% kid, 30% silk yarn in a gorgeous blue. I'm going to make something for Mom out of it since she was such a trooper and walked so damn much just for me to check out the yarn store. The woman who owned the shop was very nice and pleasant, like most yarn store owners. We started the walk back and I was ready to give in and take public transportation, but my mother is nothing if not cheap. And even though I had two blisters by this time I was not going to insist, as I was bound and determined to keep up with my 63-year-old mother! Thank God I had my blister bandaids with me. If you ever have a blister on your foot, these things are the best ever and worth the price.

It was a very hot weekend in TO and I have come back to Michigan a bronzed goddess – well, as bronzed as a redhead gets. I even wore a white shirt yesterday to show off my bronzed goddessness. Today I'm wearing lilac. I so rarely tan that I have to take advantage. It'll fade by tomorrow. It was so hot and sunny that even though I slathered my exposed skin in SPF 45 and 50 sunblock 2-3 times a day I still got a little pink, but not anywhere near as bad as it could have been.

We met some great people in our grandstands – some of whom we've talked to briefly in previous years, but we actually introduced ourselves this year. This one group (Bob, Jo, Bob's Cousin Dave) has been in front of us for a number of years and we were talking about my penchant for cheering for every driver as they go by in the driver parade. I told them that I had contemplated staying down below in order not to blow out their eardrums, but Jo said, "No, I've been looking forward to it. I'm all geared up." The best part was that this new woman was sitting in the rows between us and she was having a heart attack hearing that I yell. She was dreading it like you would not believe. The driver parade at the Toronto race is the best because they all get their own trucks so I have time to yell and cheer for every driver. In Cleveland this year they packed 3-4 to a truck and went by so fast I barely had time to figure out who was in the damn truck much less cheer them on. That annoyed me.

And the absolutely best part of the driver parade is that I was actually yelling loudly this year and they all heard me and looked up. I got a thumbs up from a number of the drivers. Some years my throat gives out and I don't make enough noise for every single driver.

I started doing this in 1996. I was there with my friends Brian, Mark, Pierre and Pierre's friend Ray. I had just met Jeff Krosnoff two weeks previously in Cleveland and got his autograph on my racing shirt. He had been exceptionally nice with a ridiculously shy fan and I became a big fan that day. This is when I started my tradition of cheering for every driver. Jeff ended up in an incredibly hideous and fatal crash that day and I was beyond distraught. They didn't announce anything at the track (they were trying to find his family first), although we waited quite a while after they had red-flagged (i.e., stopped) the race. It had been near the end of the race and there was no way the safety team was going to be able to get the mess cleaned up in time to race to the finish. I've since learned that whenever the announcer doesn't say, "So-and-So Driver is fine." Pretty quickly that So-and-So Driver is not fine.

We waited and waited and waited and finally decided to head home. The guys waited while I used the Ladies' Room (the only temporary street circuit that supplies real toilets and sinks with running water) and while in there a woman came in and said, "I shouldn't have come today. Every time I go to a race somebody dies." I just stood there and fought back tears, and finally turned to her and stammered out, "You don't know that for a fact, do you?" "Yeah, I was standing in that turn, I saw the accident. He's dead." I let some tears fall, but didn't want to appear to be a freak, so I held back, but when I got to the guys, they looked at me and I said gulping through my tears, "A woman in the rest room said that he's dead." And then I just started crying. The guys all that panicky look on their faces that men get when women start to cry, especially women who are not their wives. It's the only part of that day that makes me a smile a little bit. They all tried to calm me down and told me that the woman didn't know and we should wait for the formal announcement. I cried all the way to Brian's house on the bus. Once we got to Brian's house we buttonholed his wife Linda to find out what she knew, but she knew no more than we did. I had plans to have dinner with Pierre that night, and we had a very nice time and I was able to forget briefly that we might have lost Jeff. By the time I got back to Brian and Linda's, the news had been announced and it was official – the woman in the washroom was right. To me, turn three at Toronto will always be evil and I can't view that turn w/o seeing Jeff's car flying into the air and hitting that fucking goddamn tree which was outside the safety fencing. My dear friend Pierre knew it had really affected me, and he said to me sometime that week that Jeff had died knowing that he had a fan (he had come from the Japanese Formula 3000 series, so he was an unknown commodity in his home country and as a result got no cheers except from me) because he heard me yell his name during the driver parade and had looked up and acknowledged me. Pierre said I should take comfort in that. Did it help? Yes, I'm afraid it did. I think about Jeff every time I go to Toronto and I don't care how badly it annoys the people in front of me, I'm going to cheer for every single driver because they're all out there doing the same dangerous job and they all deserve recognition for their abilities – even the Speraficos and not just the Paul Tracys and Jimmy Vassers of the world.

And as Max Papis said on the podium that fateful day before he knew Jeff had left this cold cruel world, "Go, Jeff, Go." You are remembered…


Post a Comment

<< Home