If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.'
So here's how it all went down.
Mike's company sponsors a car that races at the Evergreen Speedway out in Monroe. It's basically amateur NASCAR wannabes who drive beat up cars around different track configurations. We could get tickets for half price and since half of our family is five years old and under, they would be free. So....awesomeness. I mean, it's not like I have a better way to spend a Saturday night, like, you know, READING or something.
"It will be fun," Mike said. "The kids will love it."
Sure it will. What's not to love?
So we loaded up our crew into our giant, really cool 15 passenger van and made the trek out to Monroe.
As we emerged from our van, and got into the line of people waiting to buy tickets, instantly one thing was made very clear. We were hands down the best dressed people in town. And if you know us, and have seen what we look like collectively on any given day, that's saying a LOT. We don't exactly dress with an air of sophistication.
The air was filled with a sweet aroma of excitement and anticipation. Wait...WAIT...
No, no it was not. The aroma was grilled onions, beer and BO.
Shorty-shorts exposed massive amounts of cellulite, and butt-cracks and cleavage tattoos abounded in nearly every visable direction. And yes, I can speak on this as I have some of my own postpartum flab that I don't believe I should subject the general public to. You're welcome. And butt cracks aren't exactly scarce around here either. At any point in time a child can come traipsing by, over-sized diaper proudly hanging half off, pulling the wearer's pants far below a level deemed socially acceptable.
One woman breast fed her baby while standing up, without a cover. Okay, so that's not so bad, and I have to say: If you're gonna whip it out in public and leave it hanging out the top of your wife-beater, nursing is the ONLY acceptable reason to do so. Unless your child is old enough to be drinking milk out of a glass. In which case, you may want to consider not nursing while standing in a line to buy tickets.
So we took our place to wait between an old man who was decked out with camouflage in the shape of miniature deer, and a very loud woman who had only 3 teeth, whose grown daughter, Billy Sue, proceeded to pop pimples on her exposed, tattooed shoulders, then have her fiancé help her get the ones she missed. Their excited cursing informed me that this might just be a regular pastime. Mike looked at me with a smile, completely oblivious, and I snorted. And laughed silently. Hysterically. How could I not laugh?!?
Actually appearing REFINED in comparison. (Snicker)
Eventually we made it to the ticket booth where we forked over our dollars and had the word ENJOY cattle-branded into the backs of our hands. Even now, days later, I still bear the scar from this. We presented our freshly purchased tickets to a young woman who had bangs that LITERALLY stood up 4.5 inches off her head, and made our way past the now growing crowd of excited yokels and up to a section of bleachers that was slightly removed from the rest of the group so our little boys would have some room to move around if they got antsy.
And the first-round cars drove out.
The first races were qualifying races, which were interesting to watch, and "our" car, number 22, qualified easily. The boys loved it! This would be great!
At one point they pulled all the cars onto the track and let all the patrons come down and meet the drivers and see the cars. Mike took the kids down onto the track to meet the mascot, a skinny dude in an over-sized raccoon head who answered to the name "Racey Raccoon" (clever!) and sit in a few race cars while I stayed up in the bleachers with the baby and watched a Kettle Corn vendor pop very large amounts of corn in a giant vat, and tried not to see a very large, tattooed couple making-out a few rows ahead of me. I chatted with a few people who were nearby. Everyone seemed friendly and kind. These folks were completely genuine. This was a group of down-to-earth, loving patriots who would give you the very shirt off their backs should the need arise. (If they had been wearing shirts, that is.)
Mike bought a giant bag of Kettle Corn for all of us to stick our germy hands in, (Mmmmm,....Delicious!) and everyone returned to their seats so the blessed event could ensue. We watched a man in front of us who could barely walk, spend 20 minutes to climb up 800 stairs to sit up at the tipy-top top of the grandstands. The whole time we yelled inside our heads "Good GOD man! Sit down right where you are! DO it! Stop the insanity!" And just when my cynicism and snark was reaching a whole new level, a man came out, grabbed the microphone from the announcer, and prayed. OUT LOUD! GLORY BE! He asked God to protect the drivers and keep everyone safe. Well, Amen to that.
We stood up patriotically, hands over our hearts, watching the emblem of our great nation flap in the breeze, and a woman in a very sparkly silver tank top crooned out her (loosely melodious) interpretation of "The Star Spangled Banner." Aaahhhh. America.
The green flag waved, and the LOUDEST MOVING VEHICLES ON THE FACE OF THIS GREEN EARTH took off driving in a circular motion, over and over and over. And if you know me at all, you KNOW how much I LOVE really. loud. noises. It's right up there on the top of my list. Right above "eating food made by young children with runny noses" and "licking the shopping-cart-handle germs."
Amidst the cacophany, the announcer blurted out incoherent words of some sort, that couldn't possibly be understood by any human person. The kids plugged their ears and I wrapped Milo's head in a burp cloth and prayed he wouldn't have everlasting hearing damage. I held my hands over his ears, put my head down next to his and prayed. The entire time. "Dear sweet Jesus, just get me through this."
Mike looked over at me and said something while grinning. Who the heck knows what it was. I can't read lips that well. Especially when my eyes are squinted from grimacing. So I smiled sweetly and nodded and told myself, "You're not really in Hell."
And that's how it was.
For several hours. Good Lord.
People laughed and drank, and enjoyed the revelry, and small children danced and played right up next to the fence that lined the speedway. Cars lost their bumpers and limped off the track.
My boys ate Kettle Corn off the dirty bleachers with their mouths (because their hands were being held over their ears) and I watched as our 22 car, which had a clear lead with only five laps to go, stalled out and wouldn't start after a red flag stopped every vehicle on the track. A bummer for sure. We left shortly after that. Because God heard my prayers.
After one more race of cars (that could rival several jet engines in decibels) drove around in a "circle eight" and very nearly t-boned one another at every pass, we finally headed home.
I will spare you the details about how we are so classy that we ate our dinner at a small, crudely painted burger shack, located in the middle of nowhere, right next to the highway. I'll also spare you the details about how the picnic tables we used were covered in highway dust and bird droppings. You're welcome for that too.
And that, my friends is how we spent our Red-Neck, low-budget, Saturday night family time.
So Mike read this and said "Fine. I'll go to the races again, without YOU."
Now that's a deal. Where do I sign?
I'll use that time to go to the local WALMART.
Because it's guaranteed to be empty.
I'm just joking around about all of this, by the way. It was some of the best memories we've ever made. We are going again next year. But I'm bringing earplugs. And some camo.
And about a gallon of Purell.