Sunday, February 27, 2005

COLUMN: NASCAR

Say it ain't so.

It turns out that your humble columnist is not the strapping hulk of intellect and sophistication that you've assumed. It turns out that I am not the upwardly mobile, well-read embodiment of class that I've assumed. It turns out that I'm going to face a snide sneer from the red wine drinking, art appreciating, highly cultured masses.

It turns out that I... (shudder)... like NASCAR. A lot.

So that's it for me, then. No longer shall I be welcomed with open arms into deep philosophical discussions about the essence of human existence. No longer will I need to know that a soft Neufchatel is best served with a medium-bodied Vins de Pays d'Oc. Now I simply need to know that a brat is best served with a can of MGD, or, for the truly exotic moments in life, I need merely unscrew me a bottle of Boone's. Hoo-ey, them's good eatin'.

I am well on my way to true redneck-dom. Somebody hand me a Toby Keith CD and PBR me ASAP, I might as well get it over with now.

As I've mentioned before, I spend my weekend nights DJ'ing at a club in the District. On a good night, I'll make it home by sunup. This means that while you responsible people are off doing whatever responsible people do on a Sunday morning, I'm snoring away until the crack of noon or so. Then I get up, crawl to the living room, and flick on the TV. But what to watch? Meet the Press? C-Span? Educational programming? Noooo, not when I can watch cars drive around an oval for 3 hours.

All it took was a few races last year to get hooked. Now NASCAR is my own weekly crack habit, and I couldn't begin to tell you why. I know nothing about cars, other than where the key goes and who to pay to fix them when they break. I like to consider myself an environmentalist, yet here I am endorsing a sport that wastes gas and rubber while pointlessly polluting the air, the roads, and anyone within earshot.

The only reason I'm addicted to NASCAR is because it's a 180 mph soap opera... with gnarly wrecks. You've got the quintessential good guy (Dale Jr.,) and the quintessential bad guy (Tony Stewart.) You've got the old warhorses at the end of their reign (Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin, both in their final full seasons of racing.) You've got the reckless, hell-raising new guys (Kasey Kahne and Casey Mears) trying to steal the show. You've got smart guys who you want to pummel (2004 cup champ Kurt Busch,) and dumb guys who you equally want to pummel (Elliott Sadler and his stupid Cajun accent.) And, most importantly, you've got your guy to root for (for me, it's the #48 car of Jimmie Johnson, robbed from the 2004 cup and destined to win 2005.)

Until now, only my closest friends knew about my NASCAR fetish. The other night at a trivia contest, my team and I were surprised with a category on NASCAR -- and even more surprised when I nailed all the answers. "Uh, I saw something on SportsCenter," was all I could say.

Whew, that was close.

To me, NASCAR represents everything I hate about beer-swillin', flag-wavin', butt-kickin' America. NASCAR is a red state sport, and I'm a blue state kinda guy. Let's face it - the drivers I root for probably would have beat me up in high school. Yet, none of this can stop the hairs on the back of my neck from rising whenever Darrell Waltrip ("D.W." to us fans) yells "Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!" to kick off my Sunday.

So I guess this is the start of my decline. I'm steppin' out of the closet with my undersized t-shirt and my beer helmet primed. By this time next year, I'll be chewin' my Skoal in a double-wide with a 3-legged dog I'll name "Nugent." Or maybe I'll still be my cynical self who simply disappears from view for a few hours every weekend. All I know is that this Sunday, when the 2005 NASCAR season kicks off in full with the Daytona 500, I will NOT be available for brunch.

Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!

19 comments:

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