not like I planned on risking my life that day. We were at the Houston
Grand Prix, on a weekend trip with our friends the Ogdens. Everything
was going great. True, we were in a scorching hot parking lot watching
deafeningly loud cars zoom by at perilous speeds, but I was actually
feeling a little Zen. After all, the only danger I thought I might
face was possibly running out of hand sanitizer in the unisex Porta-John.
And even that wasn't too worrisome since I'd long ago taught myself
how to open restroom doors with my wrists.
were there because my husband loves race cars. Specifically, the
American Le Mans series cars, which means Porsches, Lamborghinis
and other European machines sold at dealerships that don't have
giant, inflated gorillas on their roofs. For that reason alone,
the Houston Grand Prix is a bit more refined than most NASCAR races.
Nobody blasts Lynard Skynard, or wears bikini tops made from empty
Skoal tins. Hardly anyone's shirtless. And the race car drivers
have names like Jacques and Guy, not Stumpy and Rascal. But basically,
it's the same drill: you sweat, gnaw on a turkey leg, sweat some
more, then go home four hours later with a stomachache, a sunburn
and a 10% permanent hearing loss in both ears. Good times.
husband and I, the Ogdens, and both sets of our two sons under the
age of six, spent a few enjoyable hours watching the race, visiting
the various vendor booths and making unsuccessful attempts to stay
away from the $7 a bottle Miller Beer stands and the trashy hoes
giving away Pennzoil stickers. (I guess I shouldn't call those women
"hoes." I never actually saw money change hands.) Happy
the day was almost over, I was already fantasizing about what I
was going to do to our hotel room's naughty minibar, when we turned
the corner and entered the "Kid's Area." And that's when
things started to get dicey.
been friends with Sarah Ogden for a long time. She is a very lovely,
very refined woman. A composed woman. A gentle woman. A woman who,
I now know, completely loses her shit around big ass monster trucks.
Mere seconds after spotting the neon orange "Major Thrust"
truck of death in all its 10-foot high glory, Sarah slammed her
beer bottle to the ground, hysterically screamed "OHMYGODAMONSTERTRUCK!"
and maniacally charged across the parking lot in her high-heeled
wedge sandals, dragging all four boys behind her. By the time I
closed my dropped jaw and squeaked out "What the..?,"
she had already paid for their tickets, scaled the two-story ladder
into "Major Thrust," and had herself and all four boys
strapped into the rickety bucket seats in the truck's bed. I looked
around and hoped an Army recruiter hadn't seen her in action.
something had to be done, but because both husbands had wandered
off to the Catfish on a Stick booth, it was unfortunately up to
me to do it. I immediately stormed over to the truck, determined
to rescue my kids from what I was sure would soon turn into the
headline: "Tragedy Struck in Houston Today." There was
just no way I was going to let them do something this dangerous.
I don't even let them eat non-organic dairy products. I mean, isn't
real life scary enough without adding in things like skydiving and
bungee jumping? Besides, if I wanted to experience a death-defying
thrill, all I'd have to do is go to the day-after-Christmas sale
at Ross Dress For Less. That's risky.
in the considerable shadow of "Major Thrust", I started
to yell up to my boys that they needed to come down right this
instant. And then, I stopped. I saw their happy little faces
peering at me from skyscraper level and realized that maybe I was
being too overprotective. Maybe I was actually being a bad mother
by pushing my irrational fears onto them in an effort to keep them
safe. They were just having fun with their friends, after all. So
had the time come to stretch the apron strings a little further?
Like 10 feet further? I stood there in turmoil, my mind grappling
with this major life issue, until the owner of the truck said the
poignant words my own parents had taught me to always heed: "Get
in. You can ride for free." I took a deep breath and started
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