Perhaps I Doth Protest Too Much


Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 26, 2018, 1:48 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

It’s not as bad as it once was, but it’s as bad once as it ever was.

Let me explain my Toby Keith paraphrasal. (I don’t think it’s a word, but I’m being an inventor.)

Once upon a time – it was twenty years, actually – my job was writing about automobile racing. NASCAR. Swimming pools. Movie stars. Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.

I don’t know why The Beverly Hillbillies is pertinent. It just seems natural.

When I covered NASCAR, this was the beginning of football season. Such were the demands of stock car racing. When I started making a living writing about racing, I didn’t stop liking other sports. It’s quite possible I grew to love them more.

About the only college game I’d see was what ESPN had for me in the motel on Saturday night. I didn’t care who was playing. I just wanted to see a good game. Florida State played a lot of of blowouts in those days. I still don’t like the Seminoles.


When I got home from Homestead, a placed named to suggest the people went home to there, I was ready for some footbaaaallll. I was ready to party hearty. I loved the bowl games. It didn’t matter if it was Akron vs. North Texas in the Fresno Valley Watermelon Producers Bowl.

I don’t pine nearly as badly for it nowadays. I’ve got a season chock full of unsuccessful high school football behind me. The only team I watched that is still playing is Union County, which is sort of fitting because the Yellow Jackets defeated Clinton 62-7 in the lowest night for my friends in low places.

But it was sort of nice to know I could see the second half of the Carolina Panthers’ game on Sunday. All year long, I’ve been checking the score during commercials of NASCAR races. I didn’t mind missing out on Sonic and KFC commercials, particularly the ones currently being aired.

Naturally, the Panthers lost. Three in a row now.

The college game is my preference, though. On the weekend I would have been back from Homestead had I not been deemed by circumstance out of date, over the hill and outdated by common consent, I found the football mostly unsatisfying. A bigger bunch of mismatches than the ones played at noon on Saturday, seldom have I seen.

I enjoyed most the games played on Friday night – Oklahoma-West Virginia in something of a stock car race and Washington-Washington State in something of a blizzard – but I’d have rather watched Vincent Price in The Pit and the Pendulum than Michigan-Ohio State, where James Joseph Harbaugh charged into the Horseshoe like unto Gen. George Armstrong Custer the Little Bighorn.

In vain, I searched for competition. It was certainly not to be found in Wake Forest at Duke, where demonic Deacons routed oddly Blue Devils in a game of the nether reaches.


I also enjoyed South Carolina at Clemson. The Tigers won with relative ease, as is their wont, but the Gamecocks gave it their best. South Carolina’s players are getting better, but there still aren’t enough of them, particularly on defense.

That game was about the best that could be expected, and next week the conference championships feature such tortoises and hares as Pittsburgh-Clemson, Northwestern-Ohio State and Utah-Washington. That leaves Texas-Oklahoma and Georgia-Alabama to anticipate with relish (or mustard). I’ll watch the others just in the off chance of miracles, but I imagine I might get some reading done, too.

As is the case in NASCAR, not everything can be a classic, lest classics cease to exist.


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(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

Just out is my eighth novel, a political crime thriller called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

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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