Monday, June 11, 2007
Starz 'Do It With The Lights On'
The NASCAR race this past Sunday was delayed by rain. I spent my time waiting for the track to dry watching The Wild, Wild West on DVD. I think things got started around 4:30 in Pocono when my mother informed me that I WILL be at her church come six o’clock.
My mother knows that I don’t even show up for Mother’s Day, so why should I be there Sunday night?
I was told that my Grandfather’s gospel group were singing that night. Most of the family will be there… Including me. Or else!
So at around 5:35, I left the house a little better dressed than usual for church. I had visions of me bursting into flames when my shadow crossed the threshold. Deep inside, I felt like someone would know me for the sin-loving bastard that I am… Point their fingers at me and scream like a banshee to warn the others of the unclean infidel.
I saw the friendly face of my brother-in-law Richard and somehow I knew he could sneak me in under the guise of a fellow Baptist. In order to pass myself off as “one of them”, I closed my mind and entered the church. I just had to remember to have no tolerance when it came to “opposing” religions, beliefs, or viewpoints.
While driving there, I listened to the race on the radio. The first thing I asked my sister Tina was… “How long do these types of shindigs last?”
She told me that the Sunday evening service typically lasts about an hour. That was perfectly acceptable to me because the boys were racing at Pocono and that’s generally a boring race. But I was itching to get back to it… My guy Robby Gordon was carving up the field in his number 7 Jim Beam Ford Fusion.
My Grandfather’s group finally got up to sing. I had seen him sing in another gospel group, but that was close to 30 years ago. He was probably the oldest member (near 83 years old) with at least that same amount of years ahead of his peers. There was probably lint in his navel older than the rest of the group. They were all dressed in matching color-coordinated clothing. They were wearing red, white, and blue pullover golf shirts with black pants. The only female in the group was wearing a matching dress (Baptist don’t cotton to women wearing pants in church). At first glance, you would think that they were a bowling team instead of a singing group.
My mother got up to the pulpit to introduce the group and she started telling the congregation that she was related to just about all of them. That meant they were related to me too. And other than my Grandfather, I only remember meeting one of them.
My mother can be a bit of an insufferable person when in front of a crowd… And last night was no exception. She said something about them being great… Because they were related to her. There was some polite laughter as I leaned up to my sister Tina’s ear and whispered, “Where’s a sniper when you need one?”
The group sounded good as they sang to prerecorded music. My Grandfather would occasionally speak between songs with tears in his eyes and his voice trembling. I found that quite odd…
My Grandfather Pence was not a man to mess with growing up. When he said things like “no” or “stop”… I did so. Because the threat of violence was real. It would be swift. It would be painful. And I never forgot those facts. He was one of the meanest grownups that I ever had to deal with. So yeah… It was a little odd seeing him tearful and emotional.
I wasn’t wearing a watch and I left my cell phone in the truck. Richard asked Tina the question that was brewing in my head… What was the time?
It was right about 7 o’clock and we both knew that we could see the end of the race if only we could get out of the Lord’s house pronto. They told the congregation that they were going to do one more song and that sentence was the sweetest thing I had heard during the entire service.
Bring it on! Sing that song! Say a closing prayer and lets hit the bricks, baby!
They closed with the last song that was one of the worst songs I had ever heard. It was called “American Christian” and it was nothing but the type of rightwing propaganda that Baptists feed upon. The group finally wrapped things up and started to walk out of the pulpit. That’s when my Aunt Linda piped up and requested an encore.
Oh… Jesus Chrysler Dodge! I could have easily leaned forward to smack the back of her head. And believe me, I wanted to at that point because I knew laps were ticking off in Pocono.
Finally, I got out of there once I made the obligatory rounds of telling kinfolk that I enjoyed it (I did) and wished them a safe trip back to West Virginia. I made my way back to Roxy so fast that they had to call out the fire department to put out my tracks.
I put the key into the ignition and started listening to the race broadcast on a competing radio station. It was raining again in Pocono. The race had been red flagged with the hopes of starting up again. They gave the full field’s running order and the whole time I was thinking… “Where’s my boy? Where’s Robby Gordon? He was making good ground to the front. Why wasn’t he in the top 20?”
My heart sank when I heard that he was in 41st place and down 3 laps.
Was God punishing me for my attitude about being at church? How could this be?
The race never got restarted and I found out today from Jeff Corbett that my Gordon cut a tire that destroyed the fender of the number 7 Jim Beam Ford Fusion.
Yeah… That sucks. And to top it off… The rain shortened race was won by Jeff Gordon. Jeez!