Wednesday, February 04, 2009

w.o.k. wednesday: pit crews and hugs

When I was a teenager, my older brother built and raced a little stock Datsun. I went to Sears Point track a few times to watch him, and I remember two things vividly: 1) the absolutely insane decibel level of the engines at full throttle, and 2) the perfectly synchronized teams of men and women in the "pits" - worker bees who were ready to tune up, repair and/or patch the exhausted race cars when they pulled off the track between laps.

Now that I'm all growed up, I'm firmly convinced that the Man Upstairs knows when each of us needs a skilled team to keep our engines running and our tires inflated while traveling over the particularly rough/dangerous patches of life's highway. And while we still may get dinged and dented in the process, our pit crews are there to help see us through.

My current crew is top notch. It's made up of women and men who have "been there, done that" where my current circumstances are concerned and who aren't afraid to share the secrets of what got them through. They'll talk with me, laugh with me, cry with me, listen to me b*tch, tell me when to get over myself, cook with me - and, most importantly, tell clean jokes when appropriate and dirty jokes when required.

Then there are the young'uns, who may not know they're part of my pit crew but who inspire me and make me laugh every day regardless: Every once in a while I'll have lunch at my kids' school, and there will inevitably be half a dozen or so kids who will run up and give me hugs. Did I do this as a kid? And, if so, did I have any clue how much I probably boosted the visiting mom's day? It's a shame that society has gotten to the point where adults have to be so careful these days with hugging those kids back, lest it be deemed inappropriate. I remember an uncle who used to visit us from Hawaii when I was little. He always brought a box of chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts, and he always scooped me up in a major hug that squeezed the breath right out of me as soon as he walked in the front door. He was a bear of a man, and he gave true bear hugs.

Some folks don't know they're in my pit crew, but they are. They're in the car with me, like Shakira and Jill. And they're on the screen, like Rowan and Keira (Have you seen The Duchess? - it's awesome).

So, here's a shout-out to my crew. You know who you are, Ladies and Gents, and I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you. You're all definitely at the top of my Whiskers-on-Kittens list.


  1. Have I told this story already? Stop me if I have. Our youngest had a little stuffed dog that gradually became more loved over the months. One night she vomited all over the critter and was heart-broken. Her mother said she would make the dog better but threw it in the dumpster. Next day she bought another one, identical to the old one and on presenting it to the girl said "Look, I washed Snoopy and she came out almost new." The girl looked at it and excitedly said,"And Snoopy has her eyes back too." A born-again velveteen dog.

  2. Ken, this story is EVERY bit as good as the one about the dog that brings the neighbor's pet rabbit (dead and covered in dirt) to its owner. Horrified, the dog's owner takes the rabbit's body, gives it a bath, blow dries it and then sneaks it next door and puts it back in its hutch late that night so the neighbors won't suspect what happened. The next morning the dog's owner sees his neighbor out by the hutch, shaking his head. "Everything okay?" the dog's owner asks. "Well, I think so," replies the owner. "But it's the strangest thing. Our rabbit died last week, and we buried it here in the yard. I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this to the kids."

  3. I think your story is better. It's a good thing I am the complete master of my sphincters, at least so far. By the way, one thing I learned on visiting my mother in the nursing home: if you pray, always ask for continence. This gift makes a big difference.

  4. I will remember that tip during evening prayers tonight, Ken.