Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Weekend

We have been celebrating here all weekend as Hope increased her independence. Our in-house RN just left a few minutes ago and each morning she comes by Hope is looking better and better. It’s kind of like the transformation of the scary too young and bad bleach job Kelly Bundy into the yikes Christina Applegate we have today and at the end of the Married With Children series (she’s definitely on the list). Unfortunately for Bud Bundy and me, he and I paralleled our paths from cute kids to “I sure hope he has a good personality and works hard.” By the way, I still hold the all-time record at Merritt Island High School for being told “I just want to be friends.” Hope’s vitals are great each time, she has less draining in her neck where the infection is (or was by now hopefully), she’s eating well, talking better, and slowly gaining more energy. We go back to Tampa on Tuesday so my I-4 break was short lived to let them see how amazing she’s doing.

Since her brother and Dad ratted me out that I do know how to do some household chores (oh I haven’t forgotten you two), Hope does seem to tire each time the laundry and dishwasher buzzers go off, children cry, dinner needs to be cooked, or it’s time to buy feminine products at the store. I used to be uncomfortable with buying such things until I saw a stand-up comic one time and he said he didn’t mind because it just screamed, “I have a girlfriend!” I hate to admit it but I kind of have enjoyed having the time and taking the time to cook again (the last 5 years cooking for me consisted of, “Hope how long should this go into the microwave?) and haven’t done much laundry since the adventurous days at home in MI when Kris, Scott, Kurt and I all lived together in high school at once. Back then our washer and dryer were in the garage next to a side door that lead to the side yard (makes sense, huh?). Anyway, if you left your laundry in the dryer before someone else wanted it your clothes were out in the side yard. Maybe that’s why all the girls just wanted to be friends, I was always half covered in grass. Yeah, that must be it.

Kurt’s oldest son Adam is coming to our place today for some swimming and playing with the boys. He’s 15 and against all of Mom and Dennis’ wishes for revenge (and lucky for Kurt) he’s nothing like his old man at the same age. He’s great with our younger boys that idolize him and we all have fun playing in the pool (Hope of course cannot do so right now, but she will hang out on the deck for a while like she did yesterday with just the boys and I). Last visit in December just after Christmas, for some reason Adam and I thought it would be cool to jump in the pool. We did it twice (like the first time was not painful enough) right after we watched Rocky VI. Since I’m 20 years his elder (but still think I’m 18 with the best fake ID of all time) I probably thought I was being a cool uncle and he felt like he was in the middle of scene in Cocoon when the old farts are doing cannonballs into the pool. At least we’re in the right place in FLA for such things.

The boys have been doing great. They helped me do some cooking, are helping out cleaning up here and there, and even helped with laundry a bit. They always help me do yardwork as they did yesterday, knowing that the quicker it’s done and the hotter and sweatier (that can’t be a word) we get the sooner we’re all in the pool. When we first got home earlier in the week our house looked like Bikini Bottom after Spongebob and Patrick thought that Sandy’s butterfly was an alien and they ramsacked the town. I think everyone should have a special friend like Patrick (I did have one ex-girlfriend not far off but I’ll leave it at that) but unfortunately it seemed like all of Kurt’s were like Patrick growing up. Let’s see if we can smoke this... I’ll never forget watching (and Scott will back me up on this one) a buddy of his sniffing sock strings and then would pull them through their nose and mouth back and forth like they were flossing (kids do not try this at home.) Really, I can’t make this stuff up!

I do have to mention my travels and observations last night to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona thanks to Spiros hooking us up with some sweet seats and field passes and to Hope’s mom for coming over to help out at home so I could go. First, this was my second all time NASCAR event and I know less then nothing about NASCAR except for my first trip’s experiences. Last time I remembered Dale Junior fans wearing (or unfortunately often not wearing) red #8 shirts. So I thought I’d fit in with my very red Duff (of the infamous Simpson’s beer Duff) shirt with camo shorts. Well nobody told me he changed to green and #88 but it was okay because I’m colorblind and everyone there is so drunk I’m not sure they could see the difference. NASCAR is the only sporting event I’ve been to where they allow you to bring your own coolers in still and if you don’t have 0.10 blood alcohol you’re not allowed to enter or leave. To their credit (and I can’t believe it hasn’t become a problem yet with throwing debris on the track) they still sell 16 ounce beer cans for only $5 where a football, baseball, or basketball game is $9 and up. Since it’s mandatory you drink it does seem fair. A few more observations:

1) They have better fan access then anything I’ve encountered. We were down on the field up to 30 minutes before the race checking out the track (the pitch on the track is unbelievable and you cannot tell unless you’re on it), pit row, garages, beer tents, beer stands, bars, kegs, beer carts, etc.
I was the only person without a baseball cap on (a huge fashion snafu for a NASCAR fan, much like wearing Jeff Gordon blue after Labor Day).

2) I got to watch the horrifying 9th inning last night on a big screen high-def TV in the back of one of the racer’s pit row oversized Kraftsmen tool boxes (yes it was built into it) as the Red Sox had bases loaded in the 9th with nobody out and down 2-1. They could not score against the hated Yankees and are now 6 back of the Rays (yes the evil Tampa Rays) in the loss column. Since it wasn’t the Braves not too many people seemed to care around us.

3) Don’t give race fans Sharpies! They were signing anything that didn’t move with pleasantries like “Dale f#@%ing rocks, love Susie” or “Kyle Busch should eat sh@# and die.”

4) We stood up for the first 12 laps of the race and I mean everyone did, all 189,000 Dale Junior fans, 11 Jeff Gordon fans, and the other 89 supporters. Spiros told me there’s 43 cars racing, and fans only seem to care about 5 or 6. Seems strange to me that there are not more fans of more drivers like other sports.

5) Anyway, we had great seats right where most of the wrecks occurred (and I’m told there were a lot last night) so I was happy. NASCAR does not translate well to TV, these guys are amazing staying inches away from each other at 190 MPH. It’s incredible to watch live, and if you need a good night sleep great on TV.

6) Going back to the first 12 laps, here’s my impression of the fans. They all hold up their beers as they come around to pass us, yell all at once with a blood curdling scream, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH (like I used to when Nature Boy Ric Flair was styling and profiling to the ring) and then wait, wait, drink, wait, wait, drink, wait, wait, drink, wait, wait, drink, and then hold up your beer again and WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!. Rinse, rather repeat 12 times and then go get some more beer. We all yelled too when the cars are roaring past you for what it must be like sitting behind a jet aircraft taking off (I’m sure they could hear our undying support).

7) We then went to the bathroom and they have kept the trough system in place instead of urinals, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! It’s one of those things where you try to act cool, only look down or straightforward (never, ever break that rule), don’t be close enough to touch an adjacent man even accidentally while unzipping while everyone pushes and shoves their way to the front. I found out quickly you can avoid the 100 person long line by going into the exit door. This blog is not only amusing but you can pick up great tips for peeing at NASCAR events.

8) I had my field pass and ticket in a plastic case around my neck and I had been walking around for hours with it in a pretty stiff wind (and this is the honest truth) it just happened to pop off into the trough. Out of instinct I reach down and grabbed it (it had not laid down yet but definitely hit bottom) so I quickly hiked up my shorts and went straight to a sink. Luckily no one else went near the sinks so I was able to wash it off and keep using it. What are the odds it jumps off in the hottest, no air moving, standing above the trough moment possible! That just doesn’t happen to other people, does it???

9) That reminds of one quick other pee-pee story (and I’ve got a million of them). I was at Bucs stadium once with Man-Marie at half-time when 65,000 of your closest friends all pee at once. I noticed that one line was moving faster then the others so I jumped into it. It was to the handicap stall and 3 guys were going in at a time. I thought, sink, toilet, hmmm? Well I was the third and had the honor of peeing into the trash can. This wasn’t the first game ever at Bucs stadium, don’t you think someone would realize to take the trash can out or put in a netted one (just a thought and another tip for Bucs management).

10) Two guys in the bathroom did not follow the most important rule of looking straightforward and not talking to your neighbor. One was a Gordon fan and the other was a Kyle Busch fan. They started yelling at each other with bad words I won’t repeat (I only hear them at home when Hope’s clothes aren’t folded properly or I don’t put enough lines in the rug after vacuuming) as they politely criticized and debated each other’s favorite driver’s racing abilities at the trough before the argument turned towards to some of their personal body parts size. They were about to fight when neither one seemed to be able to zip up quickly enough without spilling their beer.

11) We walked down the track level along the fence. The force of the wind and noise created by the cars racing by was unbelievable. My ear rung that was facing them and you could feel pebbles or something hitting you each time they blew by. They have police and security folks standing along the fence the entire race that must be hard of hearing by now. I could not take it for more then a few minutes. That must be what it’s like to get the seat next to the speakers at a Twisted Sister Concert (yes that’s right, huge Twisted Sister fan in the house). I love to rock out to the greatest hits CD with two songs on it (Cum on Feel the Noize and then the instrumental version of Cum on Feel the Noize).

12) Speaking of admissions, I’m a huge Neil Diamond fan and just recently became comfortable admitting it because Kurt was able to admit it too. We became fans watching the Jazz Singer when it rained at Acres of Wildlife in Maine when we were kids and I know the Martins will remember those times. Hope’s mantra has become “You don’t bring me flowers anymore” while mine is “Love on the rocks.” If you saw Neil in Saving Silverman (a cinema masterpiece with one of the best actors around in Jack Black and almost ready to make the list Amanda Peet) you would know Neil still has the acting bug. I think it’s great he took an almost 30 year hiatus from acting but so is Elvis and everyone knows Neil is bigger then Elvis. One last Neil thought, why does a Jewish singer make a Christmas album (these are the kind of things that make me stay up at night)?

It was a great night out, a break I really needed, and had the best fireworks show afterwards that I have ever seen. We know how to blow stuff up in the south! Earlier in the day I took the kids to see Kung Fu Panda, and I don’t care how old or young you are it’s a great movie. The kids love it and it brought be back a bit to my Bruce Lee and WWF days. We’re all celebrating at home Hope’s continued independence so that I become unimportant again like she likes it. Happy Independence weekend to ya’ll from the south.


Pam Anderson said...

We are so glad you are home and getting better. This has been a crazy ride for you and I hope things go a little more peacefully for you (which is kind of hard with 2 little boys and 1 big boy running the household!). So sorry about Jake's trouble around Tampa. If for any reason (good or bad) you have to go back to TGH, head over to Davis Island! There is gas, food and some shops over there. I'll e-mail your mom.
You are an amazing woman! Thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jessica Long said...

I am glad to hear about Hope's progress!! We missed you all at the Farm on the 4th. We thought of you often!! We hope we can get you all back north to visit for the next one...especially since Jake is starting to scare me with the NASCAR stuff. :-)

Jen said...

First: Pam Anderson signed your blog???!!

Second: Jake is hysterical. Please, please, Jake, start your own blog after Hope kicks you off hers.

Third: Love you Hope.

Jennifer said...

Hope, We are so glad to hear that you are home! Sarah turned us on to your blog and I LOVE it! Jake, you are an awesome blogger. Saved By The Bell and Friends are two of the best shows ever!

Our thoughts and prayers are with ALL of you!

Take care,
Jennifer and Joey