Bent Words

Bent Words

May 11, 2010

Jamison Glen Stachel.

If you were to visit my parental unit's abode, you'd find his initials etched upon the wooden walls of the closet in my old room. He was the subject of one of my biggest childhood crushes.

Thirteen years old. My best friend and I hitched a ride every Friday night to Fort Atkinson. Destination -- skating rink. However, it wasn't as innocent as all that. Melinda and I would drop our roller skates into one of the golf cart rentals next door and cavort about the city in search of... something. We were little hooligans, to be sure. I can recall stealing silk boxer shorts from Shopko (where I would later garner my first job), loitering at the local grocery store where a few of our friends worked and walking the circuit (our pre-cruising days) downtown. We met a million people and built up our calf muscles doing so. But that was more Melinda's gig.

Me, I just wanted to roller skate. And that's where we always ended up. At the rink.

I used to be pretty good. At the Skatin' Place in Janesville, I took lessons. From about eight-years-old until I hit puberty. But lessons were expensive and the 'rents never cared much for carting me around on the weekends. It was easier to drop us off early on a Friday night, hand us a few bucks and drive away on the pretense we had a ride home from Melinda's folks. The ride home rarely panned out and thus we hitch hiked a lot. Stupid, I know, but some how we came out of it without incident.

Jamison, 16 or so, was one of the Dee Jays at the rink. Tall, rather muscular, nice car and the biggest flirt. Ever.

He with his speed skates and me with my (braces and glasses!) ability to keep up, we tore that place apart. He let me pick out songs from the Dee Jay booth and we raced about, doing the two-step, in sink. I practiced the spins and jumps I used to be so good at and he played slow songs, winking as I went by, in order to make me blush.

Man, do I miss those days...

Lucky for me, it's a small world and today I found myself blushing like a thirteen-year-old all over again.

While Jericho was at lunch and I was watching the parts counter, Jamison walked right through the front door of our shop. He spoke to one of the salesmen and they headed over to the dirt bikes, walking directly past the parts counter.

Knowing immediately who he was, I bee-lined it over to the sales department and quickly related the above story to my co-workers.

"He kinda looks like a douche," said Justin.

*dramatic eye roll*

"Well, what of his looks -- I just think it's an absolute trip to see someone I haven't laid eyes on in over fifteen years!"

"Maybe you should run to the bathroom and brush your hair," said Justin with a smile.

"Nah, he won't remember me. I had glasses and braces and some sort of failed attempt at a perm back then..."

I meandered back to my post at the counter and, from across the showroom, Justin hit the air with a thumbs up and a booming voice;


That's right about when Jamison rounded the corner, looked me straight in the eye and said,

"No way. Laura?! I was just telling Rick how hot the parts girl was and it's... it's... You!"

Still 'smooth.'

We hugged. We reminisced. He told me about all the bikes he owns and then asked me out to lunch. I told him I couldn't.

"But you know where I work."

The weirdest part of all this is that I literally have his picture sitting on my computer desk at home. I was going through an album of old photos last week after having a dream about skating (which I often have) and there was a picture of him at 17, blowing me a kiss from the sound booth at the rink.

Funny little world this is...


It rains.

Kinda like the last five sequential Superbike weekends at Road America.

Now, don't get me wrong, racing is always more interesting in the rain but it takes a lot of beer to make one care less for the incessant wetness penetrating down to the very core of your being when it lasts for the majority of a 36 hour period. Plus, when you're camping, it's hard to sleep while it's raining. Whether it falls down upon the plastic canvas roof of a tent or on the metal of a van's roof, you hear it. Every single drop. Especially when it's raining in the form of a solid. I'm talking hail, people. The size of popcorn. (Elkhart Lake is its own little ecosystem. From hell.) And if you happen to have a leaky tent, you get to experience firsthand the wonder of what it would be like to sleep outside during a monsoon. On a river. Because your tent has been filled with two inches of water and you're floating on your air mattress.

Your shoes and socks are soaked and caked with mud. You're cold because, unless it's 97 degrees outside, rain is mostly cold. Your beer bottle is even colder and so your wet, wrinkly hands are numb. All your clothes are soaking wet because, while in a drunken stupor from the night before, you forgot to put your bag in your car. You can't see a damned thing while you're riding a scooter at 30mph round the track you would normally know like the back of your hand and every awning erected in the place is completely full of wet, sweaty drunk people who got there before you.

It's miserable.

And I miss it.

Last year was the first year I've missed in ten. I had the hookup, too, with free tickets and a camping buddy who drags his wife to see the races, rain or shine, every year. Race gas, beer and brats on hand. All the three food groups.

This year, I don't have tickets or any damned money (stupid medical bills). I was supposed to work the Suzuki tent but I'm pretty sure that fell through. I was supposed to get tickets from a buddy who works the emergency crew but he hasn't returned any of my sixteen phone calls. I was suppose to have a line through Timmay Schmidty from Helmet House but he can't even get me a damned Shoei helmet bag for my Arai (punk).

So here I am. Sans tickets. Watching the rain hold steady. Wishing I could just be a part of it.

Camping may suck for the most part in any other situation but there's nothing like a big bore 7am alarm clock. You can't sleep through speed. There's nothing that can compare to having the inside line on the handicap (i.e. large) showers which are now overlooked by everyone but the regulars for the newer, portable (i.e. tiny) showers. (Which, incidentally, accommodate two people nicely. Right, Shane?) And when will I ever get the opportunity again to utilize my race gas filled scooter solely for the purpose of running to the "good bathrooms" which are hardly thirty yards away when I really need to go? When else do I get to do that?!

How can you trade a day of banging on your buddy's trailer when he's too hung over to watch the races for a re-run you'll see on TV?

You can't.

Because there's nothing like an RA burger. There's nothing like an invasion of possible sunshine when you've forgotten your sunscreen or the scramble you have to make with the threat of a storm -- the gravel roost from your buddy's rear wheel as you race back to camp. There's nothing like the deafening sound of superbikes roaring by -- Zemke waving and wheeling as he rolls through 6, 7 and 8. There's nothing like the chaos of the kids, making their presence known throughout the night with fireworks and tomfoolery.

The only reconciliation I have for my sadness is that I won't have a partner in crime to partake in the events with anyway.

And it's always so much more fun to have a sidekick.

Right, Shane?

Written at 5:25 p.m.