Roundabout Trips and Uphill Battles

[cb_profit_poster Speak1]Clinton, S.C., Friday, August 30, 2013, 10:41 a.m.

It’s probably not a good omen that I’m writing this blog while “Return of the Pink Panther” is playing on television. Chief Inspector Dreyfuss’s eyelashes are wiggling involuntarily even as I, uh, write. Jacques Clouseau is wearing what appears to be a red velvet blazer, which now seems about as appropriate as wearing a red velvet pound cake. The movie was released in 1975. That Peter Sellers. What an actor.

Alex wil be calling the shots this weekend.

Alex wil be calling the shots this weekend.

It may also not be a good omen for tonight’s high school football game. Clinton is opening its season at Gaffney, which is not only one of South Carolina’s larger schools but the reigning state champion. I’m taking a circuitous route to Gaffney’s “Reservation” – its nickname is Indians – by first driving south to pick up 10-year-old Alex, who is either my great or grand nephew and it doesn’t really matter because he is both great and grand, in Columbia (OK, Cayce). I have no idea how one gets from Columbia to Gaffney, but I’m confident that Siri is omniscient.

And Alex likes talking to her on my iPhone.

The Red Devils are not only coming off a rough season. Gaffney is not only state champion. Clinton High is now the state’s smallest Class AAA school. Gaffney is about 2-1/2 times larger, though, thankfully, it can only use 11 of its students at a time.

My optimism is more guarded than usual. What Morris Udall once said about running for president seems appropriate for a team dubbed “Red Devils”: “We’ll fight till hell freezes over, then lay siege on the ice.”

Then again, Udall lost.

My hometown school and alma mater has won eight state championships over the years, the most recent four years ago. It’s time to bring back the tradition, but tonight I’ll be content with respectability. If a miracle happens, I’ll let you know.

10:54 a.m.

Al Pearce stopped by on the way to Atlanta. Al covers NASCAR for Autoweek and worked for the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, as well, when I first started covering the sport for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Among the reasons we immediately became friends is the fact that Al graduated from Presbyterian College here in Clinton. He has been writing about NASCAR longer than most everyone still around. Not near enough of you are familiar with his work.

Usually Al and I have lunch, and he spends some time stopping by the old alma mater en route to races at Atlanta or Talladega. As usual, it was at Steamers, on the square, and it seemed as if about half the town stopped by to say hello. He bought lunch. I gave him a T-shirt.

The Blue Hose were in roughly the same boat last night as Clinton High is going to be sailing tonight. Presbyterian scored first but fell, 31-7, at Wake Forest, marking the closest it has ever come to an NCAA FBS school.

My alma mater, Furman, opens tomorrow at Gardner-Webb, and Alex and I might go. It’s his call. The Paladins are on television locally. If we watch it on TV, we can also watch Georgia-Clemson. Alex seems to like the Tigers, so I’ll let him do what he wants. Boiling Springs (N.C.) isn’t much farther away than Gaffney, so we’ll head back up the road if he says so.

11:06 a.m.

Last night was overkill right off the bat. I spent the evening switching from Carolina-Carolina (North at South, latter winning) to the Boston Red Sox (Orioles salvaged the third game at Fenway) to, uh, Utah State-Utah (Utes, i.e., the latter, won), Indiana State-Indiana (latter), UNLV-Minnesota (latter), Ole Miss-Vanderbilt (former) and Rutgers-Fresno State (former was winning when I finally went to bed well after 1 a.m., but latter won, I just discovered, 52-51).

I was (still am, actually) wearing a Vanderbilt shirt, thus sealing the Commodores’ fate.

By the way, I watched not one play of the Carolina Panthers’ exhibition victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. I just don’t care about pro football until it’s real, which means that, at the moment, I’m notably ignorant of what’s going on, but there’s plenty of time to catch up.

Tonight the White Sox are in Boston. Florida Atlanta is at Miami, Texas Tech at SMU and North Dakota State is at Kansas State. Western Michigan is at Michigan State and Central Michigan at Michigan. I’m sure there are others, some of which may not even be on TV.

Clinton High, Alex and I will be at Gaffney.

11:19 a.m.

Oh, Atlanta. Hear me calling. I’m coming back to you one fine day.

Bad Company, I believe.

I won’t be coming back to Atlanta (Motor Speedway) this year. I should be back from taking Alex home in plenty of time to watch NASCAR’s penultimate regular-season race on Sunday night.

For the first time in about 15 years, I didn’t check into the Best Western in Griffin, Ga. It was one of the special places at which I stayed over and over because I didn’t have to book the room online. I just checked out and made sure they knew I’d be back next time.

At last, I lied, but I called them to say sorry.

I won’t be enjoying the prime rib and strawberry shortcake at Manhattan’s. I won’t be spending an evening at my buddy Rick Minter’s farm. One year I met my nephew and watched Georgia Tech play Clemson at Bobby Dodd Stadium, which is one of my favorite college-football venues. Ray was at Clemson then. He later went on to grad school at Alabama. He and wife Jessica are expecting their first child at year’s end.

Oh, yeah. Ray actually has a job. Imagine that.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Any old nag can start, but it takes a thoroughbred to finish. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. This is the time of year when high-school kids muse about slogans on locker-room walls. That’s the origin of the title of my second novel, The Intangibles, which will be published in late October. If you’d like to order a signed copy of my first novel, The Audacity of Dope, see the instructions here at montedutton.com under “merchandise.” Oh, and thanks for your support.

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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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5 Responses to Roundabout Trips and Uphill Battles

  1. Rick Minter says:

    No music at the farm this year. No cookout either. That used to be the most fun part of the race weekend for me.

  2. Wasn’t Udall part of that Ledbetter bunch Jerry Clower always talked about? Let’s see… Marcel, Raynel, Newgene, Uncle Versie, and … Udall? Ehh, maybe not.

  3. Monte says:

    Nah. Mo and Stewie were bros, though.

  4. Tony Geinzer says:

    I wonder if Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Future is Up in the air?

  5. Monte says:

    At one a year, I doubt it. I don’t think NASCAR will abandon the market.

Comments are closed.